Venezuela’s Future

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Venezuela’s Future

Kyle Platt

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For years, Venezuela, which has the largest oil reserves in the world, was a massive distributor of oil, helping to drive the country’s booming economy. For much of the later half of the 20th century, Venezuela’s oil production continued to rise. When Hugo Chavez became the leader in 1999, they produced 3.5 million barrels of oil per day. Since then, that number has dropped to 1 million barrels per day, with inflation rising to extreme levels. To give an idea of just how poor the country is, 3 million citizens have left the country in the last five years in hopes of finding a better quality of life elsewhere. As their economic struggles rise, fewer and fewer citizens have access to healthcare, even for minor conditions. The U.S. has attempted to send aid to citizens of Venezuela, however president Nicolas Maduro has blocked the aid from entering the country, claiming it is a tactic by the U.S. to infiltrate the country.

Venezuela was once the richest country in South America. Recently, however, the previously prosperous, flourishing nation has fallen victim to national unrest leading to rebellion and protests. President Maduro was elected to another term in January, yet many Venezuelans claimed the election was rigged with voter fraud, and in turn refused to recognize Maduro as their leader. Venezuela’s National Assembly opposes Maduro and, along with President Donald Trump, recognizes Juan Guiadó as the country’s new leader. In response, Maduro angrily called for the removal of U.S. diplomats in Venezuela, claiming that Trump was attempting to incite an overthrow by Venezuelan citizens.

As the new leader of the National Assembly, Juan Guiadó declared himself president of Venezuela back in January shortly following Maduro’s reelection. Other than being detained by the government for a short time earlier this year, Guiadó has not been prosecuted as heavily by the Venezuelan government as most other political opponents. Recently though, Venezuela’s Supreme Court placed a travel ban on Guiadó in addition to freezing his bank account.

Countries around the world are split between supporting opposition leader Juan Guiadó and president Maduro. Crucial for Maduro is his support from Russia, who has helped the failing country in the past. In order for Guiadó on the other hand to win the support of the entire country, military officials, who have historically backed Maduro, will likely have to switch sides. As protests of the government continue, it will be up to citizens of Venezuela to determine the outcome of the country’s future.