The Crisis In Venezuela Is Worsening. Here’s What You Should Know Right Now
It’s been over a month since the Venezuelan National Assembly enacted a part of the constitution to declare National Assembly President Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela setting off what has been a tumultuous last few weeks. Guaidó has been challenging the legitimacy of sitting President Nicolás Maduro which has resulted in a standoff between the two leaders. The clash of powers and U.S. involvement has plunged the already crisis-ridden country into new depths of chaos. So how did we get here and what’s next for Venezuela?
Government and opposition forces are struggling for political power in Venezuela, a country facing economic chaos and widespread shortages.
After President Maduro was sworn in to a second six-year term in office in early January, Guaidó, 35, declared himself acting president shortly after. By directly challenging Maduro, Guaidó set off a chain of protests and political opposition that have rattled Venezuela.
The country is in the midst of a growing economic crisis that has created a humanitarian crisis. Millions of residents are unable to afford food and medicine which has made the Maduro-Guaidó situation more dire. This downfall began during Maduros’ first term as president back in 2013 as the Venezuelan economy turned south.
These rapidly worsening conditions have led to many Venezuelans leaving the country. Since 2015, more than 3 million have left in search of better opportunities elsewhere, primarily in bordering Colombia.
Residents have taken to the streets over the last month to show their displeasure with Maduro.
Protests have been occurring in Venezuela more frequently since Maduro was re-elected in January. Many call his re-election a sham due to many opposition candidates being barred from running or even jailed. Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly refused to recognize the election results, calling the election a sham and the presidency vacant. Under Venezuelan rule, since Guaidó is the head of the National Assembly, he took over as acting president in such cases.
The controversial election had many Venezuelans angry and looked toward a new voice. Guaidó, along with the U.S. and a number of other international leaders, say that Maduro isn’t the rightful president. While many are calling for Guaidó to lead, he still has very little power. To this point, Venezuelan forces have remained largely loyal to Maduro and few joined Guaidó’s attempt to take him down.
Even as people are killed and injured in the streets on Venezuela, Maduro has done very little to calm the situation and lead his people out of the crisis. While there are still some that support him, he is losing support as food and the need for medicine become critical issues.
The U.S. is getting involved in the crisis which has raised some questions.
The Trump administration was one of the first countries to come out in support of Guaidó, calling him the rightful president. The U.S. has since placed multiple sanctions on Venezuela’s oil reserves. Some have criticized the U.S. involvement with the crisis in Venezuela due of the history the U.S. has had meddling with other countries wars.
President Maduro views the U.S. as a foe and over the weekend continued to refuse it’s delivery of aid, calling it an attempt to gain power over his country. Despite multiple sanctions and even a visit from Vice President Mike Pence on Monday, Maduro refuses to let go of his power.
Things have gotten so bad that Univision anchor Jorge Ramos was detained after Maduro didn’t like some of his questions.
Ramos and five other staffers were held for about three hours while interviewing President Maduro on Monday. Reports say Maduro objected to Ramos’ questions about the current political crisis and quickly cut the interview short. Government aides reportedly confiscated the network’s equipment and hold the team’s footage of the interview.
The situation demonstrates the immense pressure and scrutiny President Maduro is under. While Ramos and his team were later released, the action show a clear picture that Maduro doesn’t want to be shown as anything but good for the people of Venezuela.
Where does the country go from here?
There are many forces at hand in the Venezuelan crisis that include forces inside and outside of the country. The number of military officials leaving President Maduro keeps increasing as they join the thousands leaving for Colombia. The U.S. will continue to send aid and back Guaidó to send a clear message to Maduro.
The real tragedy here is the suffering of the Venezuelan people who are looking for food and aid while the crisis persists. Residents have been seen looking through trashcans for food and are looting stores in desperation. With a failing economy, a corrupt leader at the helm, and rapidly growing inflation, change is desperately needed in Venezuela.
Venezuelans face a tough decision between protesting and exposing themselves to Maduro, stay in hiding, or joining the millions of Venezuelans who have already left the country behind.