By Magdalena Villasenor
Venezuela used to be one of the richest countries in South America. It has one of the largest oil reserves in the world, and 95% of Venezuelan exports are petroleum based. Thirty-one million people reside in Venezuela, and the nation was in a strong financial position until their president Hugo Chavez died in 2013. Chavez’ predecessor, Nicolas Maduro, has gained support because of this.
Since Chavez’ death and with Maduro now in power, oil prices have increasingly dropped. Inflation rose rapidly and continues to spiral out of control (currently at 80,000%), and people are beginning to weigh money instead of counting it. The Gross Domestic Product (the measure of a country’s wealth) has fallen 35% (sharper than the Great Depression in the U.S. economic crisis of 1929), creating food shortages, water shortages, power outages, and rampant political corruption. Infant mortality is at a shocking 20% in Venezuela. Many people have lost weight due to the food shortages and call this drastic weight loss the “Maduro diet.” The“rabbit plan” that has become a staple of Venezuelan mockery was Maduro’s grim attempt to breed and eat bunnies to beat hunger, which failed.
Maduro has attempted to blame the U.S. for his failure in running the country, going as far as accusing the U.S. of injecting Chavez with cancer and the U.S. of sabotaging a non conventional war. Maduro has turned down humanitarian aid, and has said that it is an attempt to overthrow him as a president.
Maduro created a new supreme court, created a whole new assembly, and rewrote the constitution. While the vote to see if this process would follow through, people protested the day of the vote and 16 people civilians were killed. Maduro is trying to get rid of the constitution, changing it in his favor, and establishing an authoritarian rule. He has fabricated votes declaring that people voted 8 million votes when at least 1 million voted. 2,500,00 people have fled Venezuela. 500,000 have ended up in Europe and North America, 1,000,000 to Colombia, 750,000 to Peru and Ecuador, and 250,000 to Brazil, Chile, and Argentina. The late president’s eyes are plastered around the country as if he is still watching over the people of Venezuela, watching over the riots.
Venezuelans have become desperate enough to dig people out of their graves and rob the dead of their jewelry. People are attacking lawmakers themselves. One police officer rebelled against the regime, stealing a police helicopter in order to fire bullets and grenades at the supreme court in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela.
Juan Guaido is serving as the president of the national assembly of Venezuela, he announced himself as the nations interim president. He swore himself in as of January 2019. Juan wants to help aid through and is recognized as the president by the U.S. Oil is still being exported but still doesn’t fix Venezuela’s economic problem. People are starving, people are dying, and people are tired; it’s their country and they’re making the changes they want to see. Maduro is a dictator no longer in disguise, killing his opponents, and anyone who is against Maduro gets killed, abused, or threatened, like Stalin did to his own people, for comparison. People are making their voices heard, nearly everyday there are protests. There is hope. But hope may not be enough for Venezuela.