International

Venezuela, A State With Two Presidents

Maduro’s Wave of Chaos

By: Valerie Gonzalez

Venezuela’s National Assembly Head, Juan Guaido, during a mass opposition rally in Caracas on January 23rd, 2019 (Credit: Federico PARRA/AFP, The Statesman, February 2019)

To understand the current chaos in Venezuela, we need to go back to 2013 when Nicolas Maduro was elected to the presidency after the death of Hugo Chavez, who served as president for 14 years.

The election of 2013 were shocking, as this was the first time that a candidate won by fewer than 2% of votes. Maduro was the Vice President of the previous campaign and his opposing candidate, Enrique Capriles, claimed that the elections were manipulated by the power he held within Chavez’s government.

What the people didn’t know was that Maduro wouldn’t follow Chavez’s policies and rules. Instead, he would destroy the socialist system already built and execute his own.

Later that year and in early 2014, Venezuelan students came out to attract global attention to the economic problems the country has suffered since Maduro’s election. While CNN recorded the protest, Maduro revoked press credentials to all CNN journalists and denied them from entering the country.

In 2016 Maduro declared a constitutional state of emergency, followed by the intervention of the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). OFAC acknowledged that the Maduro administration has affected the country in many ways and the freedoms of the Venezuelan people have been assaulted.

By the time 2018 came along, Venezuela suffered an economic and humanitarian crisis for 5 years. Maduro’s response is that the situation is merely a “fabrication,” blaming the United States and other Latin American countries for the media attention.

Venezuela has one of the largest oil reserves, which is why it is other countries’ first choice when it comes to obtaining resources.

Under Maduro’s leadership, inflation has skyrocketed to 50% more than last year’s rate. Unable to subsidize his country, Maduro decided to print more money and increase inflation to the point where there’s a scarcity of food, loss of basic consumer goods, violence, and suffering of innocent people.

More than three million Venezuelans have left the country since 2015, according to The Washington Post. This led Maduro to close up all borders and deny U.S. humanitarian aid.

This keeps Venezuelans with no hope for a better future, and makes further investigation into the country a challenge. “Venezuela will not allow the show-off… humanitarian aid because we do not beg from anyone,” said Maduro to reporters at a recent press conference.

But the conflict doesn’t end there. The citizens of Venezuela are tired of living in poverty and asking for help; other politicians are standing up to the crisis.

On January 23rd, the leader of the legislature, Juan Guaido, assumed the power of President after Maduro’s re-election wasn’t recognized by Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly.

Shortly after, U.S. President Trump stated his support for Guaido. “Today, I am officially recognizing the President of the Venezuelan National Assembly, Juan Guaido, as the Interim President of Venezuela. In its role as the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people, the National Assembly invoked the country’s constitution to declare Nicolas Maduro illegitimate, and the office of the presidency therefore vacant.”

On January 10th, Maduro’s term ended and the country found itself in a chaotic transition of power where Guaido claimed the presidency.

What’s next? Guaido and Maduro are fighting to gain power of the country. The future of the country’s citizens, oil reserves, and international relations lie in this fragile leadership.

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