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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

Venezuela is a Latin American country that has been suffering for several years from several crises that not enough people are aware of. The economy is worse than that of the Great Depression, more people are dying of hunger, and the violence is only getting worse. However, Venezuela has not always been this way. So, let’s start from the beginning.

For several years, Venezuela was actually the richest country in Latin America. This was mainly because they are home to the largest oil supply in the world. When Hugo Chávez became president in 1998, he ultimately won the election by using his populist strategies to appeal to the ordinary people of Venezuela by promising that the power would belong to them. Once in power, he replaced the existing Congress with a new National Assembly. He rewrote the constitution and ultimately gave the president more power, such as having six-year terms with unlimited reelections. 

He also raised the price of oil per barrel to more than 100 USD. Chávez then spent billions to implement many new programs for education and healthcare, which cut the number of people in poverty in half. His vast amounts of spending led to a growing budget deficit. Venezuela began to only rely on the revenue of this one, single commodity: oil. However, if the price of oil were to significantly drop, these programs could not be sustained. 

This is exactly what happened in 2014, the year after Chávez died of cancer and his successor, Nicolás Maduro, took over. With the oil prices plummeting from 100 USD to 40 USD, Venezuela’s budget needed to be adjusted. However, it was not. The increased deficit spending and money-printing put Venezuela in hyperinflation. The inflation rate of Venezuela today is the highest in the world at 9,596%. The currency rate for government officials and Maduro to import food is about 10 bolivares to 1 USD. However, they sell food to the people on the black market for 12,163 bolivares to 1 USD, which gives the government a large profit. 

This made important medicine and basic foods insanely expensive for the people. 82% of the total population is now in poverty. The Venezuelan currency is so worthless that the people are making bags and purses out of the single bills. You would have to save up a month’s worth of wages just to buy a hot dog in Venezuela.

The violent crime rate is increasing everyday in Venezuela. Thousands of people are pouring into the streets, protesting that Maduro be removed from power. It is one of the most unsafe countries in the world. Venezuelans are fleeing for their lives, and Columbia has opened up their borders to let these people in. They have set up refugee camps with doctors, dentists, psychologists, and even nail technicians. The Columbian government provides them with food and millions of Venezuelans sleep in tents on the ground. Columbia has offered to provide food inside the country of Venezuela, but Maduro has rejected this offer, severing ties completely with Columbia. 

This is not only an economic crisis, but a humanitarian crisis. People are dying in Venezuela everyday at a rapid rate, whether that be from murder, starvation, or suicide. Venezuela needs to be saved, but other powerful countries worldwide refuse to help until the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro has ended. 







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