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A South American Crisis

On Thursday, January 10th, 2019, United States Vice President Mike Pence spoke out against the recent election of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Nicolas Maduro has been the president of Venezuela since 2013, and before that, served under Hugo Chavez as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. However, Venezuelans hardly approve of his presidency. Since the election in 2013, the socioeconomic state of Venezuela has declined. Crime, inflation, poverty, and hunger have all dramatically increased. Soon after he took office, back in 2013,  the Venezuelans quickly noted the downward shift of their country. They took to the streets and have been protesting his rule ever since. According to some, “Venezuelan migrants staged anti-Maduro protests in cities from Madrid to Miami. In the highland city of San Cristobal near Colombia, three cloth dolls representing widely loathed officials—Electoral Council head Tibisay Lucena, Socialist Party No. 2 Diosdado Cabello, and Vice President Tareck El Aissami—were hung from a footbridge.” Clearly, the people of Venezuela are tired of the current regime and are ready for a new leader.

Venezuela itself is a naturally very wealthy country, being extremely rich in diamonds, gold, natural gas, and is well known  for its abundance of oil reserves. However, since the early 2000’s, Venezuela has struggled tremendously to keep its head above the water. In 2014, they were named as the 181st worst country to do business with, out of just 185 countries. Additionally, at the end of 2015, their inflation rates skyrocketed to 270%. In 2017, the Venezuelan National Assembly said that the inflation rates were close to 4,000%, but according to the Bank of America the figures released by the Central Bank of Venezuela were incorrect.

What happened to the Venezuelan economy? Shouldn’t they be an extremely wealthy country given their natural resources? In 2014, the price of oil dropped from $100 to $50, which caused Venezuela to stumble. Furthermore, during Chavez”s regime, Venezuela was suffering from a severe housing shortage, and there was an estimated shortage of 1.6 million houses. Additionally, Venezuelan had hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars’ worth of debt. During all this time, unemployment was at an all time high, which lead to an increase of crime.

Venezuelan president Maduro is one of the causes of the current slump that Venezuela is experiencing. Maduro continues to rely upon the same policies that Hugo Chavez instituted, which only served to push Venezuela deeper and deeper into debt. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence tweeted, “Dictator Maduro’s inauguration is a sham. The US does not recognize the illegitimate result of a stolen election. We’ll continue to stand w/ the people of Venezuela & against Maduro’s corrupt regime until freedom and  democracy prevail in Venezuela!” Furthermore, he has stated that the US will not recognize the legitimacy of his election and called it a “sham.” The Trump administration has taken a stance against Maduro and is encouraging the Central American allies to put pressure on Maduro to change.

Nicolas Maduro’s dictatorship of Venezuela is not only hurting the world, but also the people of Venezuela. The increasing homicide rates and economic collapse have affected millions of families, and continues to do so. What should be an extremely successful, wealthy country is poor and ridden with crime.

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