JCU Alumna Donnatella Bove Parra on the Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela  

On April 4, the Office of Community Service invited JCU Alumna Donnatella Bove Parra to speak about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, as part of the Office’s special lecture series. She dove into the “unseen crisis,” as she remarked, that has been afflicting Venezuela since 2013 through images, historical facts, and her own personal experience.  

Donnatella Bove Parra
Donnatella Bove Parra

Donnatella Bove Parra is an Italian-Venezuelan alumna of JCU, holding a double B.A. in International Affairs, and Economics and Finance, with a minor in Legal Studies. During her studies, Donnatella focused on the protection and promotion of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and human rights in the Western Hemisphere. She is committed to advancing the pursuit of freedom and justice in Venezuela and advocating for awareness of the humanitarian crisis. As part of the Embassy of Venezuela to Canada’s team (Interim Government of Venezuela) from May 2022 to January 2023, she collaborated with the drafting of documents, reports, and other materials to evidence the perpetration of crimes against humanity and human rights violations in Venezuela.

The purpose of the talk was to raise awareness of the deep humanitarian catastrophe rooted in every stratum of Venezuela’s society. It is a multi-dimensional man-made humanitarian crisis whose causes lie in the mismanagement of national resources and rampant institutional corruption. From dependency on oil production to hyperinflation to a staggering devaluation of the Bolívar (Venezuelan currency), the country’s economy plummeted at a shocking rate between 2013 and 2019. This has led to dire living conditions for Venezuelans, millions of whom, pushed by human rights violations as well, decide to flee the country.  

Donnatella’s presentation showed several close-up photos that immediately communicated the gravity of the situation. Among the striking facts that Donnatella remarked on and showed through images, one concerns the food crisis: a basic food basket cost $535.23 in January 2024, meaning that 82% of Venezuelans living in poverty and 53% in extreme poverty cannot afford to access basic food and meet nutrition needs. The situation is aggravated by the collapsed health system that leaves around 9.3 million people with chronic illnesses untreated. Yet, Venezuela’s humanitarian disaster receives little international attention. 

The presentation was meant to show the life of millions of Venezuelans. 7.7 million is the approximate number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants worldwide: the largest exodus in the history of the Americas. Donnatella also pointed out the strong courage and spirit of the people who do not leave the country: despite the regime’s violent responses and retaliation, entire cities take to the streets and protest peacefully to attract international attention and ask for basic human rights.  

Professor Andrea Lanzone, who teaches history courses at JCU and specializes in refugee and migration studies, was also present at the event. He invited his students to remember Donnatella’s talk as food for thought while conducting research for his class HS 284 Immigration to the US, as the conditions and choices of a concerning number of people today, are akin to those of millions of men, women and children who fled Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries in search of safety and a better future in the Latin American country.  

(Michaela Papavero)