The people of Venezuela have had enough. Due to years of corrupt social democratic government, which was led by Hugo Chavez, Venezuelans are currently protesting for things to change. Chavez, who served three presidential terms until his death in 2013, continues to have supporters known as Chavistas.
Nicolas Maduro is the current elected President of Venezuela, but has changed little to nothing of Chavez’s socialist ideals. The Venezuelan government has been spiraling down over the years due to the greedy hands of government officials that have misplaced oil revenue which should be going toward minimizing their high inflation.
As if they didn’t have enough trouble, the crime rate in Venezuela is probably as high as their inflation. This hasn’t changed at all with the new government, which is why and how the protests began in the first place. Currently, Venezuelans are fighting each other. It’s government against the opposition, and the few that aren’t a part of either group are collateral damage.
Venezuelans have been rallying in the streets for their voices to be heard, but are (literally) shot down by government supporters. There are hundreds of people injured. Anyone who is seen in the street is labeled by the government as a protestor and shot at. The violence occurring there is at a new peak, and many are wondering when there will be some type of help.
The situation in Venezuela is complex, with many different factors to consider before you can become fully informed. Here are four things to know that will give you a better understanding of what’s really going on:
1. The protests began by groups of students throughout the country. They were mainly protesting the crime violence that had not decreased since Chavez’s long presidency. Then, more and more people united to protest more of the government’s failures such as the declining economy.
2. Venezuela’s economy is so bad right now that airline carriers are rejecting their currency. Around $3.3 billion dollars are owed in total to carriers. Venezuelans that want to leave cannot do so by flying because these carriers are not accepting the bolivars (Venezuelan currency). Some carriers, like Air Canada are accepting American dollars. That seems like a solution, but unfortunately many Venezuelans cannot pay the exchange rate, which are 6.3 bolivars to the American dollar.
3. Leopoldo Lòpez is the leader of the opposition group. He used to be a mayor of a borough in Caracas, Venezuela. He is also a Harvard Grad, and is well connected to important US friendly people around the world (This is clarified in the next point). As of February 18, he turned himself in, and is imprisoned.
4. The US has a $5 million dollars in its 2014 federal fund for the opposition activities in Venezuela. Their subtle help is not entirely for altruistic purposes. The US is hoping for a regime change in Venezuela, and support Lòpez for this position. His connections and close ties with the US means that the US will have a better relationship with Venezuela, a major oil producing country. It’s all about the oil.
5. Lòpez’s wife, Lilian Tintori, is encouraging the people to continue to fight. She even called out Maduro by saying, “Me dicen que esto no es una dictadura. Entonces yo les pregunto, ¿cómo es que mi marido está preso?” A rough translation would be: “They tell me that this is not a dictatorship. So I ask them, how is it that my husband is in jail?” Lillian’s brave and great asset to the people of Venezuela. While her husband is in jail, she’s giving them hope.
Venezuela is in turmoil. Maduro and his supporters are looking out for themselves, and the people are still fighting to let their voices be heard.