The Venezuelan Crisis


Billy Mykel, Reporter

On Tuesday, Jan. 22, Vice President Mike Pence declared the United States’ “unwavering support” for protests against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and as of Feb. 4,  both the United States and the European Parlament have recognized his rival, Juan Guaidó as President. At the same time that the Trump administration and other global leaders backed this opposition, leaders in Venezuela started attempting to unseat Maduro and remove his administration from power. With Venezuela facing such a severe leadership crisis, it is important that we identify and address the underlying problems.


The current protests in Venezuela against President Nicolás Maduro stem from several crises Venezuela is facing, one of the biggest being corruption. According to Transparency International and The U.S. Council on Foreign Relations, Venezuela is one of the most corrupt nations in the world, even more so than Brazil, with an estimated 82 percent of its government institutes being found to be corrupt. This rampant corruption has been spread and even encouraged by current President Nicolás Maduro. Maduro was declared President after his predecessor was killed, and he was sworn in during a special election in 2013. Since his election, President Maduro has been accused of misusing his power and rigging elections for himself and his supporters. The most recent case being in the latest presidential election in 2018, where he supposedly won with 68 percent of the popular vote despite his popularity being at an all-time low. Besides these massive problems, the crisis in Venezuela stems far further than corruption.


Regardless of the fact that Venezuela is rich in natural resources and has strong economic investments, the Venezuelan economy is failing. President Maduro and his supporters have reportedly refused to take actions to stop the nation from going bankrupt and have used the nation’s foreign currency reserves for their own purposes. Venezuela is currently ranked last among 32 North American nations in economic stability and its main currency, the bolivar, has been inflated by nearly 1,000,000 percent. Independent studies have found that unemployment is increasing exponentially while wages are decreasing in huge margins. With all of these issues, Venezuelans are unable to afford basic necessities. A report by the Guardian found that some workers make around 4,000 bolivars an hour, while a single store-bought chicken can cost upwards of 14 million bolivars. More and more families in Venezuela are being forced to go as far as selling their belongings to feed themselves. All the while, President Maduro has continued to grow wealthier.


With devastating poverty crippling the population, and a silent dictatorship leading the country, many Venezuelans have been forced to flee the nation. As of 2018, an estimated 1,000,000 Venezuelan refugees have arrived in the neighboring state of Colombia, and some estimates say that the total number of displaced Venezuelans could be well over 2,300,000 people worldwide.  Maduro has done nothing to help these people, arguing that they are their own reason for poverty and that he has done everything he can to help them. These refugees have no resources or stability and are often targeted by gangs and militias during their journeys, and most foreign governments are unwilling to protect them. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, this refugee influx is becoming one of the biggest humanitarian crises in the world, and these people desperately need help. Both the United States and the United Nations have sent money to Venezuela in an attempt to help these people, but sadly thanks to government corruption and the failed economy, the money never reached the people who needed it.

All in all, as the crisis in Venezuela grows worse, it is important that we continue to fight against the underlying corruption and mismanagement that fuels it.