On Sunday, August 26th, Sam Stelnicki held her first Current Events Conversation in the Glass Classroom of Smith-Steeb. In this event, we discussed the current situation in the Venezuelan Economic Crisis. The ongoing crisis has several implications not only for Venezuela but for surrounding countries such and Brazil and Colombia and for the region as a whole. In the event, we discussed the factors that led to the crisis, focusing on the country’s economy. Some of the main issues that we covered were the hyper-inflation, the excessive spending during the oil boom, and how the South American nation’s dependency on oil exports have affected the economic crisis.
After the event, I felt like I definitely had a better understanding of the origins of the crisis. I have a fairly limited experience learning about the crisis in both high school and in college. In most classes in which the Venezuelan Crisis is covered, we only really go over the political causes and consequences of the event, but it was interesting to see the event from a more economic side. IN terms of any type of professional gains, I hope to work with Latin American Issues to some degree, whether domestically or abroad, and a better understanding of this major crisis definitely would aid me in terms of better understanding the region as a whole.
Being that I am an International Studies and Spanish double major, this discussion on Latin American affairs is very relevant to my coursework in several of the classes I have taken. International Studies 4242, titled Incomplete Democracies: The (Un)Rule of Law in Latin America, has the most relevance in this case. The class is focused on corruption, violence, and the rule of law in Latin America. We often discuss issues of police violence, the war on drugs, and the problems in judicial systems of several Latin American countries. In fact, we have discussed Venezuela multiple times within the class regarding political corruption and the excessive use of police force directed at protesters. While the discussion focused mostly on the economic side of the situation in Venezuela, it was interesting to see the crisis from a different perspective than has been presented to me in classes that I have taken that have covered this topic.
Overall, I thought that the event was informative and was a good opener to Sam’s event series. I did feel that it started a bumpy because it was the first of the series and I’m sure many of the people that attended were either shy or did not know how to enter the discussion. However, as the event went on, we became more comfortable asking questions or expressing our opinions to the group. Some small debate even occurred on certain issues. I definitely feel that this event was a good early event because it provided a space for the second and first-year students to interact, which does not happen often. I plan on going to some of the future Current Event Discussions in the future.