Returning volunteer, Leah Langley, gives us an insight into what is happening in Venezuela at the minute.
Venezuela has hit the headlines recently for the growing violence and riots it is facing, but why is this happening and what is causing it?
A Socioeconomic and Political Crisis started whilst the country was under the presidency of Hugo Chávez. After his passing the issues continued under his predecessor Nicolás Maduro. The crisis is due to marked hyperinflation, growing hunger and disease rates, growing crime and death rates, and huge emigration from the country (over 3 million Venezuelans have left the country in the last few years). It is the worst economic crisis in Venezuela’s history and it is among the worst that the world has seen. The National Assembly, in January 2016, declared a “Health Humanitarian Crisis” as there is serious shortages of medicines and medical supplies and there is a clear deterioration of infrastructure in the humanitarian sector.
The 2019 Venezuelan Presidential Crisis concerning who the legitimate Venezuelan President is has been underway since January 10th, 2019. Maduro called for presidential elections in February 2018, four months before the expected date, and he was declared the winner in May 2018. The National Assembly stated that the results of the May 2018 elections had been invalid, and they declared Juan Guaidóas the acting president. After assuming his new role on January 5th, 2019 Guaidóbegan trying to form a provisional government stating that the country would not have a legitimately elected president regardless of whether Maduro began his new term on January 10th, 2019. On the National Assembly’s behalf, he stated that the country has in fact fallen into a De Facto Dictatorship and has no leader, declaring that Venezuela faced a state of emergency. Maduro’s government has stated that the crisis is a coup led by the United States to overthrow his government and control the country’s oil reserves.
On January 23rd, 2019, Guaidó swore to serve as the acting president regardless of the outcomes leading to millions of Venezuelans coming out in support across the country and the world. Before the protest began tear gas was used on gathering crowds whilst armoured vehicles and riot police fought with protestors in other areas of the country. There were injuries to both protestors and security, and by the end of the day at least 13 people had been killed. Under Maduro’s government, humanitarian aid had been declined and turned away from the country, but with Guaidó’s prompts and outbreaks of violence across the country trucks with humanitarian aid were able to successfully cross into the country on April 17th, 2019.
In March 2019, Venezuela experienced a near total blackout in which at least 43 people died. Maduro was quick to accuse the US of “masterminding a ‘demonic’ plot to force him from power”.
April 30th, 2019 saw the people of Venezuela take to the street to “support the democratic forces and recover their freedom” as urged by Guaidó. The protests led to 1 reported death and 100’s of people were injured. More demonstrations were held on May 1st, 2019 for both men however, things quickly turned violent and the Colectivos fired on protestors leading to 1 protester being shot and killed whilst 39 protestors and 9 military personnel were injured.
Venezuela’s issues are clearly rooted deeper than the last few months that have seen them hit the news but with there still being so much uncertainty in the air, it is unclear as to just when these riots and protests will seize. Just how much longer can this violence continue before there are even more catastrophic results, and what will Venezuela do next?
Features image by Omeiza Haruna.