Nicolás Rubio 01 (MBA) and 99 (B.S. international
business) returned to his native Venezuela last year and went to work
as a corporate banking manager for Bank of the Caribbean. The South
American nation the worlds fifth largest oil exporter
has experienced significant political and economic turmoil in recent
months, leading to the ouster of President Hugo Chavez, his subsequent
return and massive anti-government protests. The situation was the subject
of an e-mail Rubio sent to RIT President Simone.
To provide some perspective,
Rubio allowed us to publish that letter and the following update.
To readers of The University
speaking, the country is completely divided. We sometimes fear
the worst, a civil war."
Rubio '01 and '99
On April 11, hundreds of
thousands of demonstrators came out to rally against government policies
and to ask the president of Venezuela to resign. The rally began peacefully,
but toward the end of their journey, seventeen demonstrators were assassinated
and more than 100 were injured in downtown Caracas within blocks of
the presidential palace.
After that, a chain of very
confusing events occurred including the unofficial resignation
of the president, the installation of a provisional government, and
the presidents return to power two days later.
Today, Venezuela faces the
biggest political crisis in its contemporary history: an unhealthy economy
and perhaps the deepest social division ever. I truly do not know what
might happen between today and when you read this.
When I was asked to write
an essay about events in my country, I decided that the best way to
communicate my message was to publish the e-mail I wrote back in March.
Dear President Simone:
As you might know, Venezuela
is going through a very difficult political and economic crisis that
results in a huge social problem. The government made some decisions
aimed at avoiding a total economic meltdown, but the consequences are
affecting us greatly, especially because of the lack of fiscal responsibility
and a sound economic program, and the absence of modern leadership.
Politically speaking, the country is completely divided. We sometimes
fear the worst, a civil war.
In February, our currency
depreciated 20 percent in a single day. Since then, it has been going
up and down like crazy. Interest rates went up to 100 percent and are
still above 60 percent. The tricky part is that neither the government
nor private companies will be able to increase salaries soon to compensate
for the inflationary effects that the devaluation will surely have on
prices, and this is the part that really makes everybody worried.
Naturally, these scenarios
make our job at the bank even more difficult, but so far, we have been
able to handle it all right. We know that companies cannot afford these
very high interest rates in the long run, and the liquidity problem
that the financial system faces will not stop until Venezuela becomes
a safe place to invest.
Honestly, it is not only
the way the government runs stuff around here, but also the way a lot
of people in Venezuela think. It really does not matter how much money
is available in a country: What matters is how people think and act.
If people do not invest and/or save and just waste the money they have
in things that do not produce any long-term benefit, we are just wasting
our time. People should understand that creating wealth is the only
way to minimize and finally overcome poverty, and that is through hard
work not by the government giving away stuff.
Venezuela has had tons of
petro-dollars throughout the last 50 years, and today 80 percent of
our people are poor and many of them have no chance of finding a better
future. Underdevelopment is in peoples minds, and we have to change
that mentality if we want to get anywhere as a society. This takes a
great commitment from everybody because the only way that we can change
things is through education, and of course responsible business decisions.
On my way to work every day,
I see poverty, and I realize how lucky I have been. I feel I have a
great responsibility because of the opportunities I have had so far
in life, and I try to do my best on my job. I have a lot of ideas, but
I know I am young and need to learn more before I can actually help
produce a real change.
Nicolás Rubio 01
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