politics

The Crisis In Venezuela Is Worsening. Here’s What You Should Know Right Now

Juan Barreto / Getty Images

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.

CREDIT: Getty Images

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.

CREDIT: Jorge Silva / Reuters

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.

CREDIT: @ISALEHAA / Twitter

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.

Credit: Twitter/ChroniclesofAzu

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?

Credit: @Techieappy / Twitter

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.

READ: Protests Continue In Venezuela As Opposition Forces Try Bringing Down Maduro

AOC Is The Clear Winner Of The Michael Cohen Congressional Hearing

Politics

AOC Is The Clear Winner Of The Michael Cohen Congressional Hearing

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Michael Cohen testified for hours in front of the House Oversight Committee about his knowledge of President Trump and his business dealings before and after becoming president. While Republicans tried to tarnish Cohen’s character and discredit his testimony, Democratic members of the committee were ready with their questions. The true star of the hearing is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) with her succinct and thought out questions regarding Trump’s questionable tax filings, which he has refused to release. Here’s a look at how AOC kept her cool after a long day of testimony and helped further the committee’s investigation into Trump’s finances.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez didn’t hold anything back when questioning Michael Cohen and people noticed.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

AOC questioned Cohen about President Trump’s tax filings and finances towards the end. It was a long and tedious day filled with questions, accusations, and the occasional tantrum from Republican members of the House Oversight Committee. The New York representative was so concise with her questions that some question whether or not she truly was a bartender before becoming a Congresswoman.

She only had five minutes for her questions and she knew what she was after. First, The National Enquirer.

Credit: @Osman__13 / Twitter

AOC is known for her strong and precise questioning and her questions for Cohen were more of what we have come to expect from the freshman congresswoman.

AOC: “Mr. Cohen, I’d like to quickly pick up on some previous lines of questioning before getting into my own so I may go a little quickly to get it all in in five minutes.”

“First, my colleague from Vermont had asked you several questions about AMI, the parent company of The National Enquirer. In that, you mentioned a ‘treasure trove of documents’ in David Pecker’s office relating to information assembled from all of these catch and kill operations against people who potentially had damaging information about the president. You also mentioned that the president was very concerned about the whereabouts of these documents and who possessed them.”

“Does that treasure trove of documents still exist?”

Cohen: “I don’t know. I’ve asked David Pecker for them.”

AOC: “So you would say that the person who knows the whereabouts of these documents would be David Pecker?”

Cohen: “David Pecker, Barry Levine, or Dylan Howard.”

Her biggest moment was when she asked Cohen about Trump’s tax dealings, particularly with his golf courses.

Credit: @funder / Twitter

AOC: “Thank you very much. The last thing here, the Trump Golf Organization currently has a golf course in my home borough of the Bronx, Trump Links. I drive past it every day going between the Bronx and Queens. In fact, the Washington Post reported on the Trump Links Bronx Course in an article entitled, ”Taxpayers Built This New York Golf Course And Trump Reaps The Rewards.” That article is where many New Yorkers and people in the country learned that taxpayers spent $127 million to build Trump Links in a ‘generous deal allowing President Trump to keep almost every dollar that flows in” on a golf course built with public funds. This doesn’t seem to be the only time that the president has benefitted at the expense of the public.”

“Mr. Cohen, I want to ask you about your assertion that the president may have improperly devalued his assets to avoid paying taxes. According to an August 21, 2016 report by the Washington Post, while the president claimed in financial disclosure forms that Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida was worth more than $50 million he had reported otherwise to local tax authorities that the golf course was worth ‘no more than $5 million.’”

“Mr. Cohen, do you know whether this specific report is accurate?”

Cohen: “It’s identical to what he did at Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor.”

AOC: “To your knowledge, was the president interested in reducing his local real estate tax bills?”

Cohen: “Yes.”

AOC: “And how did he do that?”

Cohen: “What you do is you deflate the value of the asset and then you put in a request to the tax department for a deduction.”

AOC: “Thank you.”

This isn’t the first time AOC has gotten witnesses to attest to the questionable tactics employed by President Trump.

Earlier this month, AOC questioned a panel of government watch dogs to discuss the broken campaign finance laws. In her line of questioning, AOC laid out a series of hypothetical questions about what she, as a congresswoman, was able to legally get away with.

The panelists admitted to AOC that not only can she accrue as much money as possible from special interests. Not only could she leverage that money to create legislation helping the special interests, she can also use her own position to make large sums of money.

After figuring out what she could get away with as a congressperson, AOC flipped the script. The asked the panel is there is anything stopping the president from participating in the same shady tactics. The answer was no.

AOC is using her time in Congress to expose the parts of politics that have long been hidden from the American people.

Credit: @AOC / Twitter

AOC has spoken up about issues like marijuana legalization, climate change, and the need for fair wages that provide people enough to live on. However, she is also shedding light on some questionable practices by lobbyist and congressional colleagues.

Her use of social media has brought the real day-to-day of politics to all of our newsfeeds. Not only have we seen the process of getting your office in the Capitol building, we’ve even seen moments like the tweet above. Lobbyists hiring people to hold their spot in line for congressional hearings so they can put pressure on legislators to do as they wish and taking space away from the American public who wish to voice their opinions and concerns.

You can watch AOC’s full questioning of Cohen in the video below.

AOC came to Congress with many people in both parties questioning her ability to legislate. It seems fair to say that AOC is surprising her doubters and has become a very important voice in American politics. It has only been two months since she was sworn into Congress and she is already making major waves and causing major change.

READ: This Is The Part Of AOC’s Interview With Stephen Colbert You Should Be Talking About

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