Venezuela, part 7

10″ x 20″ oil on canvas
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Traveling to Venezuela in February of this year left me perplexed about my own stance on various forms of government, capitalism, and corporate involvement in politics, the media, and foreign affairs. I met with many disadvantaged Venezuelans who made the benefits of socialism hard to dispute, if as nothing more than a transitional solution to their social and economic crisis. On the other hand, I associate with many people working for, starting, and investing in capitalist ventures who logically make solid arguments as to why competition in an open market benefits society, including who least fortunate.

Essentially, I’ve come to the conclusion that corporate responsibility is the issue at the heart of the problem. Venezuela’s poor majority has repeatedly elected a president who promises social and economic salvation. Hugo Chavez stood on a platform of free health care, education, and the availability to business opporunities; exactly what the majority of Venezuelan people want and need. It’s hard for someone in this position to consider the downfalls of socialism when children are going hungry and uneducated because there is no work (that pays a living wage) for family members. If corporations thought beyond their fiduciary duty of making money for shareholders, the social impact of their decisions would be taken into consideration. Christine Arena, author of The High Purpose Company, calls this the triple bottom line.

Going into the details of what constitutes an especially responsible or pathetic company is the start of a very long-winded spiel that you’re better served to read about in The High Purpose Company. What is worth expanding on is my endorsement for organizations that offer first-hand exposure to the countries and people grappling with these issues. Paintings, like this one, are the result of my trip to Latin America with Witness for Peace. I applaud the broad itinerary the organization compiled for the delegates with meetings and appointments covering the full gamut of political perspectives. There’s no better way to develop an informed opinion than to witness with your own eyes what is going on behind the curtain. It certainly shifted my thinking.

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