During my experience at the Sedona Forum 2017, I had the opportunity to meet a remarkable group of people who aim to make a difference in their countries. Their stories exemplified values and demonstrated commitment to their respective causes.
The speeches and panels at the Sedona Forum were inspirational and reinforced the spirit of those who believe in making changes to create a better world. After interacting with the speakers, I better understood the sacrifices many had made to become the leaders they are today.
I felt a particular empathy for those speakers who voiced opposition to regimes in Russia and Syria. They explained the divisions between their people and their governments. Some of them have been arrested or even persecuted. As a Venezuelan journalist, I learned from these interactions that we should be building bridges among people who are fighting to defend justice, freedom and respect for human rights, no matter where they are. At Sedona, we shared solidarity in our experiences and stories resulting from dictatorships.
Recently, days have been harder than ever before in Venezuela. During a conflict in April, more than 20 people were killed, more than 200 injured and more than 700 arrested by the army and shot by the paramilitary groups of President Nicolas Maduro’s government. This blow is on top of the worst humanitarian and economic crisis in Venezuela, one of the most unsafe countries around the world, with an average of 25,000 people murdered per year. I shared that with leaders during the Sedona Forum; in our conversations, we empathized with each other’s difficult environments, and I was inspired by how they bear the weight of their situations.
The solidarity among leaders from other nations, the exchange about our fights, fears and even tears, could be a solace in the middle of the darkness. We should change our mindset, by sharing more of our problems, by keeping our hope, by resisting human rights violations together.
DISCLAIMER: McCain Institute for International Leadership is a non-partisan "do-tank" that is part of Arizona State University. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent an opinion of the McCain Institute.