On Aug. 5, 2019, Venezuela and Uruguay both issued warnings to their citizens about traveling to the United States in regards to recent mass shootings. Two days later, another travel advisory was issued by Amnesty International, a global organization proclaiming to fight for human rights.
These warnings came out after two back-to-back mass shootings. One occurred on Aug. 3, in El Paso, Texas. The other came one day later in Dayton, Ohio. Combined, 32 people were killed and 51 were injured. With these shootings adding to the list of more than 255 that have occurred this year, people from all over the world have started talking about gun-related issues this country is facing.
Rafael Rikardo Santos Marin is a student in marketing at Auburn. He’s originally from Caracas, Venezuela, one of the countries that issued a warning, and has been in the United States since the spring of 2018.
“I really like it here,” Santos said. “It’s really different from where I come from, but in a good way.”
The Washington Post reported that the Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told his citizens to take caution when traveling to the United States. CNN said that Uruguay’s Office of Foreign Ministry advised citizens to “take precaution amid the growing indiscriminatory violence, specifically hate crimes including racism and discrimination.”
While living in Auburn, Santos said he has enjoyed his time here, and has felt more safe here than in Venezuela.
“The truth is that I feel safer in America than I do at home,” Santos said. “Here I can just go outside and be with my phone in my hand. It sounds crazy, but in my country I can’t do that.”
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Amnesty International’s travel advisory was similar to the ones from Venezuela and Uruguay. Their website states that travelers to the U.S. need to “exercise extreme caution” when traveling, while also condemning the U.S. government for failing to regulate and legislative gun laws.
“Travelers to the United States should remain cautious that the country does not adequately protect people’s right to be safe, regardless of who they might be. People in the United States cannot reasonably expect to be free from harm — a guarantee of not being shot is impossible,” said Ernest Coverson, a campaign manager for Amnesty International USA, in a report.
The Executive Director of Auburn Campus Safety and Security Kelvin King was aware of these advisories when they were placed, but sees no danger for Auburn locally.
“Auburn, we believe, is safe,” King said. “Auburn places a lot of emphasis on training and preparation for any casualties, emergencies or natural disasters that may occur.”
The emergency management coordinator for the University is in charge of putting together the specific plans for each situation that may occur.
“It’s kind of boiled down to emergency plans for individual buildings on campus as well,” King said. “We do that through engaging the faculty and staff through training for emergencies that may occur with the police division, fire division and other emergency management professionals in the area.”
The thought of these advisories being based on political bias is something that wouldn’t surprise him, Santos said.
“America has a very good bias in some things and a bad one in others,” he said. “With the thing of safety, compared to most of the countries in Latin America and Africa, it’s a pretty good bias. People want to come here because they feel safe.”
Most of Santos’ family is still in Venezuela.
He said he is glad that he was able to come here.
But, Santos said, he can’t speak for every international student.
“Some international students may be scared of the notice that came out. It depends on where you come from. In my case, I’m very glad because I just know it’s way worse there, like you cannot compare,” Santos said.
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