by Dara Tucker
Since mid-February, Venezuela has been rattled by protests over a variety of issues within the country. Basic civil rights like freedom of press and assembly, as well as safety and food security, are being threatened, according to bbc.com. However, these protests have largely flown under the radar in the U.S., demonstrating just how largely Americans are taking their own rights for granted.
These problems need more attention in places, such as the U.S., which have the power to make a significant impact. Another important concern of the Venezuelan people is widespread press censorship; according to Reporters Without Borders’ 2011-2012 edition of the Press Freedom Index, Venezuela ranked 117th out of 179 countries for press freedom. In fact, the Venezuelan government censored coverage of the ongoing protests and expelled foreign journalists from the country, including a CNN crew, according to huffingtonpost.com.
Americans are fortunate to have the right to a free press, thanks to the First Amendment, unlike Venezuelans. However, the relative lack of coverage of the events in Venezuela by American media shows that Americans are not fully exercising this right. Instead, the press concentrates on news like Kim Kardashian’s scandal when there are much more important issues to be talked about.
Additionally, many of the protests in Venezuela have resulted in violence. According to cnn.com, at least 23 people have been killed and 200 injured throughout the last month of protests. Americans have the freedom to assemble peacefully under the First Amendment, but Venezuelans’ own right to protest has been undermined.
When Americans essentially ignore the events in Venezuela, it demonstrates that they do not fully understand just how lucky they are to have these rights. If one day the rights laid out for Americans in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were taken away, Americans would not even notice until they tried to exercise them. We live in a country where numerous freedoms are honored and protected. The people of Venezuela are not as fortunate.
American politicians have condemned Venezuela’s actions, but there is still more work to be done. If the American media can focus more on important issues such as those in Venezuela, then our First Amendment rights will be used to their fullest extent.