By ITTECA KHAN
May 12, 2017
” Tensions have been rising following Cesar Chavez’s death in 2013 and the assumption of power by his second in command, Nicolás Maduro.”
Venezuela has been in political turmoil since 2014 over a multitude of issues including urban violence, inflation and chronic shortages of basic materials such as food and medical supplies. Tensions have been rising following Cesar Chavez’s death in 2013 and the assumption of power by his second in command, Nicolás Maduro.
This new wave of protests began about two months ago against current president Nicolás Maduro, who people claim to be a dictator and these protests have resulted in many deaths and countless injuries.
People across the nation are disappointed by the deteriorating conditions and constant unrest. Venezuelan citizens and opposition party leaders are demanding that the 2018 election be pushed forward, as they believe the only solution to their deteriorating economy is an election.
they believe the only solution to their deteriorating economy is an election.
The opposition party which holds most of the National Assembly due to the 2015 elections, believes the socialist ideology of Chavez and Maduro is to blame. Maduro and his supporters on the other hand, blame capitalism as the root cause of intense inflation, and believe the US is supporting the opposition in an attempt to stage a coup d’état (the sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group).
There have been mass arrests of protesters and journalists, as well as reports of violence and murder by the state militia and secret police, the Sebin. The middle class has essentially disintegrated, there are only the poor and poorer.
While conditions in the capital of Caracas may be deteriorating, they are significantly worse in smaller cities such as Valencia. Reports of people dying from starvation and minor infections have been coming in for the past few years. People have been dealing with an astonishing 800% inflation with little availability of basic food like milk, eggs and flour. Many people are forced to wait in line for hours to receive government subsidized food because whatever is available in stores is not affordable.
People have been dealing with an astonishing 800% inflation with little availability of basic food like milk, eggs and flour.
Venezuelan officials have continually denied that there is a humanitarian crisis going on in the country, but organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations have found evidence of the use of rubber pellets, tear gas and live ammunition on protesters.They have also made claims of politically motivated arrests and torture of political prisoners.
Most recently, a 20-year-old protester has passed away from a gunshot according to Venezuelan authorities. This death has taken the toll up to 37 in this most recent wave of protest with 717 injured and 154 arrested. This also reminds us that the Venezuelan government has essentially criminalized political dissent.
The once thriving country, with a healthy middle class and progressing economy, is now in ruins. Venezuela is a nation rich with natural resources, which sits on one of the bigger oil reserves in the world. This nation also has a history of deep mistrust and hatred of the United States.
While we refuse to defend the atrocities being committed by the current government, we also cannot turn a blind eye to their claims of U.S involvement. Our government’s long prickly fingers reach everywhere in the world, and this wouldn’t be the first time we have been accused of sparking coups or revolutions for our personal gain (Arab Spring Anyone?).
The opposition states that these are US backed protests, meant to cause unrest within the country. These statements may seem to be a scapegoat from the current government but it’s quite possible the American government has tampered with the Venezuelan sociopolitical sphere, as it has done with many other nations before.
This may as well be another attempt by our agencies to stage a coup, create mistrust and distaste for other economic systems, and place an American backed government in control.
As a younger generation with the power to cause change, we urge you to keep up with this story, and to always explore both perspectives to understand such a murky situation.