Venezuela’s New Interim President—And How He'll Affect Americans

Juan Guaido is Venezuela’s new interim president. He was the leader of the opposition party and head of the National Assembly for a mere three weeks before pronouncing himself as the interim president of Venezuela. Not only has he become the new president, but he has also become the newfound hope for Venezuela’s future. Guaido has become nothing less than a torch of light leading the people of Venezuela out of the darkness, with such darkness being better known as Nicolas Maduro’s socialist regime.

Credit: BBC

Under the previous rule of Maduro, Venezuela basically collapsed. Violence and hunger became (and still is) widespread. There are severe shortages of medicine, food, medical supplies, and even common household items such as toilet paper. The inflation rate is expected to reach 10 million percent in 2019 making Venezuela “one of the worst cases of hyperinflation in modern history,” according to the New York Times. The amount of people who have left their home of Venezuela has hit records high. According(WC) to the United Nations, more than 2.3 million people have left the country since 2014. Venezuelans are the top asylum seekers in the United States. The statistics are overwhelming.

You may be wondering how this affects us if we’re not residing in Venezuela? Though, the turmoil in Venezuela, in fact, has many staggering repercussions in the United States.

Deep human suffering

Credit: NBC News

The principal reason to care about the issues in Venezuela is the inconceivable suffering. There aren’t supplies. There isn’t medication. There aren't even enough doctors or nurses. The few doctors who are there are also suffering under the hyperinflation that makes it nearly impossible for one to feed or care for oneself, let alone an entire family. The high food prices are resulting in malnourishment throughout most, if not all of the population in Venezuela. In the past year, about 75% of the population lost an average of 19 pounds per person due to the food scarcity. The “Maduro diet” was termed to describe the way Venezuelans have drastically changed their eating habits since Maduro took power. Suffering is only an understatement.

Implications on the oil market  

Venezuela’s has the world’s largest oil reserves. Therefore, what oil comes out of or doesn’t come out of Venezuela affects prices. The United States is the main importer of Venezuelan oil. Just this past month, on January 28, 2019, the Trump administration placed economic sanctions against Venezuela’s state-owned oil company, ultimately stopping the country from exporting crude oil to the U.S. They did so with the objective of compelling Maduro to step down, being that exporting oil to the U.S. is one of their most profitable streams of revenue. As reported by USA Today, “it’s too early to say for certain what the impact of the sanctions will be, but American consumers may see at least a small price increase at their local pumps.”

Attack on democracy

Tamara Taraciuk, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch covering Venezuela, advised that Americans should be aware of the situation in Venezuela. She told CNN reporters, “You should care about it because (the turmoil) goes at the core of your values. There is absolutely no check on executive power (in Venezuela). People in the US can see just how dangerous an autocratic government can be.”

Credit: The Atlantic

Previously in May 2018, Maduro’s re-election was widely criticized for coercion, fraud, and electoral rigging. Furthermore, as reported by the Human Rights Watch and the Venezuelan human rights organization, there have been hundreds of cases of mistreatment towards government opponents, at least 31 cases of torture since 2014, and more than 12,800 people linked to anti-government protests have been arrested.

At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama said, “Democracy doesn’t work if we constantly demonize each other… for progress to happen, we have to listen to each other, see ourselves in each other, fight for our principles but also fight to find common ground, no matter how elusive that may seem.”

The people of Venezuela have been fighting and protesting for way too long with no avail because under Maduro’s autocratic rule there was no one to listen. Now with Juan Guaido in power, we now have someone who will listen to the cries of the people. This isn’t the solution to the crisis in Venezuela, but alas the country made a mighty step in the right direction.

 

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