Written by Umberto Belluzzo
Venezuela has been caught in a downward spiral for years fueled by the growing political discontent and the skyrocketing hyperinflation, power cuts and shortages of food and medicines.
The south american state has now been with a socialist government for 20 years after the election in 1999 of the government of Hugo Chàvez. The successor of Chàvez was his mentor Nicolas Maduro who was elected in 2013 after a “thin” victory of a margin of 1.6 percentage points.
During the first term in office, the economy went into free-fall and many Venezuelans blame him and his socialist government for the country’s decline.
The Venezuelan situation has reached its maximum level of attention when Maduro won another six-years term re-election in a vote marred by an opposition boycott and claims of vote-rigging. Maduro then dissolved the parliament where he ended up being a minority and created a new one through the creation of a constitutional convention centralizing on himself power that allows him to have the absolute control on the country’s institutions .
Maduro was accused by the United Nations to prevent any kind of public protests. The report highlights constant violations by state security forces, including the arbitrary arrest of political opponents.
Three weeks ago, the protests against Maduro brought to misery situations, unemployment, rise in crime, deaths on the streets in 2018, and a great immigration of about 3 million people, all of this in a state full of natural resources but that struggles just to distribute electrical energy in the city centers for more than a couple of hours per day, the situation seems to be redeeming because of the response of the people marching in Caracas to the new leader of the opposition Juan Guaidò, a 35 years old engineer that was unknown in the international context a month ago.
Juan Guaidò is now being discussed because he initiated a process that risks to bring Venezuela to a civil war by proclaiming himself Interim President, a figure that has the aim of leading Venezuela until new elections. The self nomination is such a controversial act not only because it involves many South American countries and the European Union that recognized Guaidò as legitimate president, but also because of the involvement of the United States that recognized the young politician as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, attracting again the critics of the supporters of the government and Maduro himself that accused the American actions as a result of politics of colonialism and imperialism. However, it cannot be denied that the US already behaved like that not only in South America but also around the world. On the other hand, Maduro has always been accusing the Americans as the scapegoat for every Venezuelan problem that happened during his government.
Maduro has reacted harshly to the manifestations, that have not always been pacific and caused many deaths at Caracas (about 20), and stance of the US who were given 72 hours to bring their diplomats back to America as a sign of complete break between the two governments even though there still didn’t exist any type of relationship in the past. From here on out, we do not know three things:
Firstly, we don’t know if the American diplomats are going to be allowed to go away from Venezuela and if this could be a risk of casus belli for the US who would occasionally have severe consequences around the world in the case the diplomats are not returning home.
Secondly, it’s not clear what will happen to the opposition. In fact, the opposition has in favor a great part of the impoverished people but Maduro has the control of the army, of the police and the courthouses which are vitally important to the president for his survival and to avoid an ending like Gheddaffi, the Libyan dictator who was massacred by the people while the guards were distracted for a second to have a coffee. : )
This new event represents an escalation of the situation already in strict tension that could worsen and lead to a change in government in case the Americans, that had always been financing the humanitarian helpers for the population, decided to finance the “new government” by eliminating the sanctions and therefore allowing the opposition to have a finance. Nevertheless, this is only an hypothesis and it cannot be predicted what the American government will do.
Thirdly, we do not know what Russia will do as Putin is one of the few allies of Maduro that already condemned the stance of the American continent. In fact, the Cremlin has defined the operation as an American attempt to usurp Maduro’s power but it’s clear the game is being played in America.
Nowadays we are used to see the American international interventions as disastrous, and there is nothing wrong with it because most of the times US intervened around the world it resulted in a complete mess. However, by looking at the situation in Venezuela we must admit that anyone would do better than Maduro and that the Venezuelans need help to survive to this catastrophe.
Let’s remember that Maduro is the same genius that got offended when the Kellogg’s factory in Caracas decided to shut down because of the impossibility to continue the production in an disastrous economical and humanitarian situation and no resources available. Maduro then decided to nationalize the factory giving it to the workers but still did not have any positive result because simply this is not how it works. Other firms such as Pirelli, General Motors and Good Year left the country included many airlines companies that avoid any flight from and to Venezuela because its economy and its currency are so ragged that its relatively impossible to take them to the blank.
Fundamentally, the main interest for all of us should be the better situation of the Venezuelans than the pitiful life they are living right now and where they could participate to their politics and in which manifestations in the streets is not a synonym of risking your life. I don’t really like the action of proclaiming your self president as in a civil war at the end the civilians are going to fight. However, the election of Maduro is recognized by everyone as a farce by anyone included the European Union and the ways that Maduro used to influence the elections such as coercion, mutant registration of the dissidents and distribution of first hand goods are violating any type of morality, ethics and human rights.