Chaos in Venezuela


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ethan Ramchandani , Editor

Venezuela has had a problematic political history since the early 2000s. The first signs of violence due to politics was in 2002 when President Hugo Chavez was elected and thousands of Venezuelans were not pleased with him. This anger created enough turmoil to cause the deaths of 19 people. Chavez was arrested and Venezuela was under an interim government. A business leader was sworn into the presidency later that year. However, tens of thousands of Chavez’s supporters freed him from jail and got him right back to his position of power. Chavez was not too popular despite having loyal supporters. After he had changed the constitution and renamed the country to The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, people were on edge about him. As his term continued, Chavez made changes to Venezuela. He started taking control of businesses and broadcastings on television. Chavez personally fired 180,000 employees from varying companies for participating in a strike.Venezuela’s social policies had also experienced drastic changes. Chavez took a very drastic anti-United States stance. He instead decided to get closer to Cuba. Soon, he turned the entire state socialist.

Since the inauguration of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro 6 years ago, the Venezuelan economy has gone into a free fall. According to some, the economy of the South American country has shrunk at least 50 percent. This is, in part, the fault of Maduro’s socialist government. Maduro has made multiple salary increases in 2018, all of which could not keep up with the rate of inflation plaguing the country. A vast majority of the population has been forced to go hungry and a reported 7 percent of everyone living in Venezuela have since immigrated elsewhere.

Flash forward to January 23, 2019, Nicolas Maduro has been narrowly re-elected as president for another 6 years. However, some people had enough of the Maduro regime. The leader of the legislature, Juan Guaido, declared himself president by assuming all the powers and responsibilities of the executive branch. The international community was split between the two leaders. The POTUS recently tweeted in favor of Guaido while some other countries like Russia and China continue to support Maduro. Since the president’s announcement in favor of Maduro’s rival, Maduro has cut off all ties with the United States and kicked out US diplomats.

This has also given rise to further tension between the US and Russia. Since Russia is Maduro’s biggest backer, Putin has warned against the US taking military action. The Venezuelan vice president has claimed that the US has been buying and supplying weapons to Venezuela’s neighbors which proves problematic for Russia. Russia has a huge investment in Maduro’s Venezuelan rule and could stand to lose a lot if he falls.Russian mercenaries have been reported to be boosting Maduro’s defense and tonnes of Venezuelan gold have been flown out as well. China has an even bigger stake in Maduro’s Venezuela than Russia does as they have a reported 50 billion dollar investment.

However, this political tension has taken a huge toll on the citizens of Venezuela. As mentioned before, a large majority of the population is still starving and not making enough money to support themselves. No number of wage increases can curb the rising rates of inflation which have been projected to hit 10 million percent at some point this year. The international community has attempted to step in, but was met with a literal roadblock by Maduro. Trucks of food and medicine for the Venezuelan people have been stopped from entering the country. Maduro has even gone as far as cut ties from three Caribbean countries including Curacao, which has had historic relations with Venezuela. Maduro enacted this in response to threats from these countries saying that they will force aid through to Venezuela. Maduro, however, has condemned the aid by saying that it won’t be accepted by the citizens as they are not beggars. Violence has even erupted causing 100s of injuries on both sides. It seems that those trying to deliver humanitarian aid have been taking a more aggressive approach.

Venezuela’s future is not certain. Worst case scenario, the country collapses. The country will be in a continuous state of chaos without a government to guide them. This will last until a foreign power intervenes or until a group claims power over the state. A better case scenario would be that a military government would keep the peace until they figure out a new government. Regardless, we can only hope that this conflict is resolved soon and that the people of Venezuela are safe.