Tushna Elavia ’26
As a part of the International Week on campus leading up to the I-Show, Freddy Guevara gave a talk on “Youth Resistance Under Authoritarian Regimes,” facilitated by Daniel Santos ’23 and Teodora Brnovic ’24.
Guevara is a political leader, freedom fighter, and democracy advocate. He served as Vice President of Venezuela’s Parliament in 2016 and is a former political prisoner of Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship. He was one of the most vocal leaders in the non-violent civil uprising against Maduro’s dictatorship in 2017 and a key collaborator of Venezuela’s Interim President, Juan Guaidó, since 2019. Both circumstances made him a target of political persecution. He spent three years of asylum in the Embassy of Chile in Venezuela, 38 days in the infamous Venezuelan political prison “El Helicoide” in 2021 and is in exile since August 2021. He was appointed to the Opposition Unitary Platform in negotiations with Maduro’s regime. At present, he serves as President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Venezuelan Parliament in exile, as a Fellow Researcher at the Ash Center’s Democracy in Hard Places Initiative of the Harvard Kennedy School (2022-2023), as co-director of a cross-party and civil society leadership network to promote a democratic transition in Venezuela, and member of the World Liberty Congress.
His philosophy on creating resistance against any form of authority and status quo is simple. He believes that all young leaders need to believe in something higher than themselves. This could range from spirituality and religion to fighting for a mission that is much larger than your individual being. He recalls his spirituality as a huge factor which held him accountable and made him stand by his truth, even when it came at the cost of being imprisoned by the state. Having faith and hope are crucial for creating any form of change. He equates being fixated on tyranny to being cowardly.
Further, he is a huge believer in cross-national solidarity and collective action. Throughout his talk, he refers to MLK Jr., Gandhi and other mainly non-violent leaders who have challenged the status quo. He also focuses on the fact that youth resistance often relies on mass mobility and collective action. In his words, “long-lasting changes are always a product of collective efforts.”
For me, Guevara’s view on creating change and resistance against the status quo served as a breath of fresh air in a world that is dominated by mass media that runs on negative news. His journey for freedom for Venezuela and dedication to something so much larger than him is truly inspiring and serves as a constant reminder that hope should never be lost, especially in times of crisis.