VIDEO: Venezuelan student compares life under socialism to 'James Bond movie'
- Campus Reform recently interviewed Venezuelan international student Leonardo Mora as part of a series on how coronavirus is affecting students across the country.
- In addition to discussing the virus’ impact on his campus, Mora discussed how socialism affected his home country.
Like many Americans, college students across the country are facing employment uncertainty because of the coronavirus pandemic.
As part of a new Campus Reform video series highlighting these students, Digital Reporter Eduardo Neret spoke with Leonardo Mora, an international student from Venezuela who studies at Doane University.
Mora told Campus Reform that as an international student, he is only allowed to work on-campus. With Doane closing campus because of the pandemic, Mora is now temporarily without work. He also spoke about life under socialism in his home country, comparing it to a "James Bond movie."
“You have very limited options on where you can work,” Mora explained. “So most of the jobs you are offered are mostly reliable on the student body.”
Mora explained that before the coronavirus, he worked three jobs on campus which included a position as a resident assistant, a job in the student affairs office, and a job on a student events team.
“After the coronavirus, we got the notice, all RAs, that we were going to be laid off because we were not needed anymore throughout the semester,” Mora said. “From one day to another we didn’t have a job.”
Mora said the situation is “concerning” and affects how he can financially support himself and his family. He also added that he hasn’t gotten “any information” on what his status as a foreign student could be going forward because of the coronavirus. He said he can’t return to Venezuela for financial and safety reasons.
“I looked up a ticket back home. It’s like, it jumped up from $2,700 to $3,900...plane tickets are just getting way too expensive,” he added.
Neret then asked Mora to weigh in on how socialism has changed his home country.
“Hugo Chavez took over private resources in the country...private industries, private land, and basically making the government his own,” Mora explained. “When Maduro took power, it was a completely different spectrum...you could see hyperinflation just taking place, unemployment, insecurity just spiking up, scarce resources.”
Mora shared the hardships of being unable to find cancer treatment for his grandfather and having to import it from nearby Colombia.
“We couldn’t have the resources to find the cancer treatment,” he said. “We had to bring it all over from Colombia and when we got it, my grandpa was already gone basically. He died the day after.”
He also shared how unsafe Venezuela has become, in part because of economic insecurity. Mora stated he and his family were kidnapped in 2015 by a gang.
“When people don’t get enough jobs or resources are scarce, people start robber [sic], being a robber,” Mora explained. “I was kidnapped in 2015 by bandits, gangs along with my family. Thank God I got alive, but it was a process of how Maduro just took over power.”
“That’s why I'm here basically. My father wanted me to study in the United States because I had the opportunity to do so.”
Mora told Campus Reform one reason he has not been back to Venezuela since 2018 is because of these safety concerns. He compared the insecurity to a “James Bond movie.”
“It’s not safe,” he reiterated. “You’re exposing yourself way too much if you go outside. Even coming from the airport. If they see you getting out...with a suitcase, people may follow you from the airport. It’s a whole James Bond movie trying to get away from the bad guys.”
On how he feels when he sees younger Americans supporting socialism and socialist candidates like Bernie Sanders, Mora said he tries his best to educate people through his role as Vice President of the Turning Point USA chapter at Doane.
“I try to educate people,” he said. “I can only do so much as well. If people believe what they believe, that's fine, but I just try to sit down with them, have a conversation. But it's almost like it's impossible sometimes because the topic of politics is very sensitive when it shouldn’t be like that.”
He slammed Sanders’ support of the Maduro government and his support for other “organizations that support” Maduro’s regime.
“Bernie Sanders...he supports many organizations that support the Maduro government,” Mora said. “Many of these organizations Maduro has given money to, money that was taken from hard-working Venezuelans.”
“It is frustrating. It’s sad. It’s outrageous as well sometimes.”