Story by Grace Kim
The Authoritarian President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, survived a supposed assassination attempt, soaring hyperinflation rates and U.S. sanctions on to combat corruption. But despite all of these drastic circumstances he has dealt with, he will inevitably lose to one person: Juan Guaido.
Juan Guaido, the opposition leader of Venezuela, has continuously fought against oppressive governments since 2007 when he took part in student protests against dictator Hugo Chavez. Guaido was elected at the national assembly and declared himself the interim president of Venezuela Jan. 23. However, Nicolas Maduro, who has thrown past political opponents in prison or killed protestors using government security, is not backing down, as he claimed himself to be the true and legitimate president.
As these two “presidents” duel it out in their home, leaders of countries around the world have begun to choose sides. 50 nations have pledged allegiance to Maduro while 65, including the U.S., have chosen to back Guaido.
However, for the near 32 million people living in oppressive conditions in Venezuela, more conflict, as a result of an unclarity of who is the true leader, is not what they need. Because of the inhumane conditions, these people are living in, Venezuelans need someone to fight for their rights. Luckily, with more support than before, Guaido will soon come out of his fight with Maduro ready to fight again, but this time for his people.
The main reason Maduro has been able to stay in power is that he has the support of the Venezuelan military. Soon enough, a shift will occur in which president the armed forces support, as thousands of troops who earn the equivalent of a few dollars a month have already deserted the military. This number will soon increase as The Hill reports that Maduro has initiated a blockade cutting off all emergency food and medicine from entering the country.
Maduro refuses to recognize that Venezuela is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, in which 90 percent of the population falls below the poverty line and lacks 85 percent of medicines needed for treatment. To make matters worse, an inflation rate of over 10,000,000 percent, as a result of Maduro’s economic policies of pegging the bolivar to a cryptocurrency, has made the purchase of anything ranging from food to toilet paper completely unaffordable and their actual currency virtually worthless. Venezuelans have been fleeing Venezuela in masses to avoid the humanitarian crisis. Aid that would alleviate this issue is being kept out of the country, per Maduro’s orders.
At the borders of Venezuela, aid is stockpiling due to the blockade and soldiers have been commanded to tear-gas people as they attempt to acquire some aid.
Taking these factors into consideration, Maduro’s blockade will spur large dissent within the militia and result in the loss of many officials’ support as his actions further hurt their people.
But the humanitarian crisis is not the only issue rampant in Venezuela. In fact, corruption is a huge reason for the high ranking officials’ support of Maduro as well. The National Public Radio reports that these officials have been put in charge of government actions, such as arms purchases to Venezuela’s oil industry — its largest sector. This allocation of duties to these senior officials have allowed them to make money off of drug trafficking, illegal gold mining, currency scams and contraband smuggling.
In response to this, the U.S. has set targeted sanctions on some Venezuelan officials to take away their motivation for supporting Maduro and sanctions on Venezuelan oil as well. These sanctions’ effects will ripple out and de-incentivize senior military officials to support Maduro.
However, Maduro’s die-hard supporters are not backing down. In fact, Foreign Affairs reports that Chavistas, supporters of Hugo Chavez, are saying that since Guaido’s announcement, they have been more united than ever before.
Yet, even if they feel united now, this is soon to change. The senior Chavistas have, on multiple occasions, spoken poorly about Maduro and complained about his actions in the past and have not stopped even in the midst of the showdown in Venezuela.
As the effects of the blockade on aid and targeted sanctions grow, the armed forces of Venezuela will soon shift their support and back Juan Guaido. As they do so, Nicolas Maduro will have no choice but to surrender as he loses the support of the soldiers keeping him in power.
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