News: The Downfall of Venezuela

by Lucas Agatep

veninflation1

Currently, it is cheaper in Venezuela to use the bolivar, the country’s inflated currency, than toilet paper. Photo by Rueters

Venezuela once was one of the richest and prospering countries in Latin America with one of the world’s largest oil deposits, but hyperinflation has sent the country into a downward spiral. 

From 2013 to 2018, with the election of new President Nicolas Maduro, the value of the Venezuelan bolivar has constantly decreased, with the potential to fall by one million percent by the end of this year, making common goods and food practically unaffordable for people to buy.

This hyperinflation was caused by dependence on the nation’s oil exports. Before Nicolas Maduro became president his predecessor Hugo Chavez made major changes that helped Venezuela become Latin America’s richest country, but his one flaw was not expanding to different sources for income, rely on their production and distribution of oil.

After Hugo Chavez’s death in 2013, the same year Nicolas Maduro was elected, oil prices started to plummet, and Venezuela’s economy rapidly fell. The crumbling economy caused civil unrest and riots against the Venezuelan government. 

Nicolas Maduro, Vladirnir Padrino Lopez

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Photo by Arlana Cubillos/AP

As thousands took to the streets to protest against the government, things started to get violent, leaving many injured and over a hundred dead. Though in recent months the amount of riots and protests have lowered political and economic problems are still on the rise. From political corruption to refugees, Venezuela’s problems keep stacking.

Last March, the Venezuelan government had a vote to remove the power of the country’s National Assembly and replace it with Maduro’s National Constituent Assembly, which has the power to completely rewrite Venezuela’s constitution.

At first, the established ruling government boycotted the vote to establish the new Maduro-led assembly. But in July, a vote resulted in the establishment of the National Constituent Assembly.

Many were outraged by the results and Venezuelans took to the streets again to riot the decision. Additionally, many foreign powers condemned the vote as corrupted. The United States imposed sanctions on the Venezuelan government to apply diplomatic pressure for opposition to the vote, but after Maduro’s assembly took power, many opposition leaders were arrested and removed from government.

Political strife isn’t the only problem they face.

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Protesters take to the street to protest President Maduro’s regime. Photo by Christian Vernon/Rueters

Over the years, more than one million Venezuelans have left the country to neighboring ones in look for food, medicine and work. Ever since hyperinflation caused prices to go up on everyday items, many Venezuelans have either been getting food out of the trash or from towns on the border of Venezuela.

Corridors have opened up to allow Venezuelans to come in and out of  Brazil, Colombia and Guyana for work or goods. Some Venezuelans even try to make their way to Peru through Colombia to look for work if they have the right paperwork.

But hatred toward these Venezuelans is growing for people that live in the border towns of these neighboring nations. Whether due to overcrowding, stores being nearly empty of their goods or from actual cases of crime committed by the Venezuelans, those seeking work and refuge from Meduro’s government face the threat of violence. 

In August, a Venezuelan migrant stabbed and severely injured a local in the Brazilian border town of Pacaraima. In response, locals destroyed a migrant camp and burned Venezuelan belongings, ultimately forcing them to cross the border back to Venezuela.

Recently, neighboring countries also created new policies to control and manage this migrant influx, making it harder for them to move around. 

But the problems still don’t end there. The Venezuelan opposition has led attacks against Maduro’s government.

In June 2017, several police officers took a helicopter and dropped grenades on to the Supreme Court building in a show of retaliation against Maduro.

In July of 2017, during a riot,  protesters planted a bomb. When motorcycle police got to the spot where it was planted, the bomb went off, killing none but severely injuring many.

Last month, an assassination attempt on Maduro was made during a military rally. The assassination attempt was done using a drone with explosives attached to it. The drone didn’t hit Maduro and no one was injured. However, ever since the assassination attempt, Maduro has yet to make a public announcement and has yet to be seen in public, only releasing government issued videos his government’s future solutions to economic inflation. 

So far the solutions have done little to nothing to help the Venezuelan situation. All Maduro’s government has done is remove five zeros off the bolivar and create a cryptocurrency that no ones uses.

It seems that Maduro is trying his best to deceive the Venezuelan people, but as of now the situation is getting more drastic by the day.

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