Dilianna Bustillos grew up in Venezuela during difficult times, so she has experienced firsthand what it feels like to be in a divided country.
This is the third episode of our “Calladitas No More” video series where we talk to young Latina voters about what motivates them to vote in the upcoming US election.
For Venezuelan American Dilianna Bustillos, having a strong interest in politics is inevitable, the result of having lived in a country with an authoritarian regime.
Bustillos, 32, was born in Virginia to Venezuelan parents. At age 9, she moved with her family to Acarigua, Venezuela. Her parents wanted her to connect with their roots and learn Spanish, along with her siblings.
“I grew up in Venezuela during really turbulent times, when [Hugo] Chávez came to power,” Bustillos told The Americano. “We all know how that story went, how the regime has been in place until now.”
At age 18, she returned to the United States and studied commerce at the University of Virginia. While in school, she became aware of how Venezuela was perceived by fellow students. When she would say she was from Venezuela, they seemed to have a positive view of Chávez.
“That was disinformation, or lack of information,” Bustillos said. “Fast forward to where we are now; I would say the perception [of who Chávez is] has completely changed here. Now everybody has an opinion of what it means to be Venezuelan.”
Bustillos said she is against her country’s situation being used to advance political agendas in the United States.
“I’ve seen Trump supporters use Venezuela to denounce socialism around the world,” Bustillos said. “They want to make people afraid of what would happen if we elect a Democrat in this country.”
“I support Joe Biden because I actually think he is going to unite us,” Bustillos said. “The debate made it extremely evident who would be a uniting force.”
Bustillos, who lives in Denver, Colorado, is aware of the “huge amount of disinformation” being disseminated through social media, emails, and text messages. She believes Trump has based his political platform on fear and hatred. This motivated her to join the Venezolanos con Biden campaign, which focuses primarily on campaigning for the Democratic presidential contender within the Venezuelan community in Florida.
“I see how our democratic institutions continue to be threatened under the Trump administration,” Bustillos said. “When he said he would not recognize the elections, he called on the Proud Boys and all of these white supremacist groups to stand by. To what? To stand by what? We saw Chávez do the same thing in Venezuela with [leftist organizations known as] Colectivos.”
She sees in US leadership many parallels to Venezuela’s regime.
“[That’s] scary to me as a Venezuelan American,” Bustillos said. “I think a big part of the community feels the same way. They’re afraid of expressing their support for Biden because of the harassment towards those who have come out and gone vocal with their support.”
Don’t forget to watch the first and second episode of our “Calladitas No More” video series.