This week, we see Venezuela’s political corruption at a level where it is vital that the United States does not change their policy in response to such an action. The country created a referendum in which 20% of the country was to vote in favor of a vote to get President Maduro out of office within the span of three days. There is currently a divide between the opposition-led Parliament who oppose Maduro’s policies and Maduro’s Administration. In the next few weeks, pay attention to what’s going on as Venezuela is at an important turning point in the socialist country’s inner politics and ongoings in the region can have a domino effect with other Latin American countries and may affect current allies of the country.
As of right now, the United States has sanctions on seven individual government officials within Maduro’s administration; the sanctioned officials include the current as well as a former head of the intelligence police, a former commander of the National Guard and other military and police officials.
The actual sanctions include freezing the assets of these individuals so they cannot do trade with the United States nor hold residence or property in the country. The sanctions’ effects are more implied than enormous in its actual effects, but our current sanctions send out a message nonetheless and must be taken into consideration when looking at the country’s political turmoil and how the United States should respond.
Now, first in order to understand Venezuela, one must understand Maduro’s Administration.
As of September 1, 2014, 41 people had been killed, approximately 3,000 had been arrested unjustly, and more than 150 remained in prison and faced criminal charges as a result of antigovernment demonstrations throughout Venezuela.
One instance of the crimes committed by these individuals includes opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez was arrested on February 18, 2014, in relation to the protests and was unjustly charged with criminal incitement, conspiracy, arson, and property damage. Since his arrest, Lopez has been held in solitary confinement and has been denied 58 out of 60 of his proposed witnesses at his ongoing trial.
Not a single sanctioned individual has been held accountable for acts of violence perpetrated against antigovernment protesters. Moreover, Maduro himself has ceased humanitarian aid in the region as of this year, including medicines and food. The Venezuelan President’s popularity with his people is decreasing greatly as he begins to stop caring about upholding his facade of democracy, an action that we can expect to see repercussions for in the near future.
Next, Venezuela’s economy is currently in a state of distress as well, and this must be understood in looking at Venezuela’s current state.
The Central Bank of Venezuela as well as the National Statistical Institute of Venezuela stated that the annual inflation rate in Venezuela in 2013 was the highest level (56%) of inflation in the Western Hemisphere and the third highest level of inflation in the world behind South Sudan and Syria.
And according to recent events from just last month, as of September 20, 2016 Venezuela’s petroleum industry has spiraled into disarray. The declining oil industry is now dependent on U.S. oil instead of the other way around. Starting this year, the US began shipping more than 50,000 barrels of crude oil to Venezuela a day. Undoubtedly, as inflation continues to rise due to improper governance as as the country’s main mode of creating revenue fails the crisis in Venezuela will only exacerbate.
Knowing American media outlets, Venezuela’s current predicament will probably not be analyzed upon much in the news, if at all. Yet, the country is at a turning point to revolution: the region might soon change its entire government or see a continued escalation of conflict as Venezuelan citizens are not satisfied with Maduro, and the referendum’s results do not look to be in his favor. Yet, taking into account the Maduro Administration’s already shady past, it wouldn’t be too extreme to wonder if the referendum’s results will not be heeded and relations between the country’s Legislative and Executive branches will worsen. Parliament postponed their march against Maduro and their “trial” in order to begin diplomatic talks on November 11th. What can be agreed on is that everyone’s eyes should be on Venezuela in the next few weeks as there’s something new going on everyday in this fast paced modern revolution.
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