Por: María Eileen Balzer
Pasate de FUNPADEM
As of late, the disarranged ambient of Venezuela has taken a turn for the worse, resulting in bloody protests and newfound demands for President Nicolás Maduro and his cabinet. Amongst these demands are humanitarian-based pleas for external aid, free elections, and judicial independence (CNN; 2017). A breaking point has been reached amongst the tens of thousands of Venezuelans that are angered over the country’s political crisis, and the violent response from the government is only fanning the flames of demur. This political crisis was reignited recently due to what seems to be the preferential treatment to the needs of the Chavistas, a name given to those who follow the socialist policies of the late President Hugo Chavez. On March 29th, the Supreme Court of Venezuela announced that it was taking over the powers of the National Assembly, a body that controlled by the opposition party. Upon hearing this, the opposition flared up claimed that it “undermined the country’s separation of powers and took Venezuela a step closer to one-man rule under President Nicolas Maduro”, a man that had previously promised to sustain the values and ideas of Chavez but has fallen short of doing so (BBC; 2017). Although the ruling was later reversed three days later, a lasting impact was solidified in the minds of the opposition instilling a sense of distrust and disloyalty. Adding insult to injury, opposition supporters were equally outraged when the ban of governor Henrique Capriles, an opposition leader who attempted to campaign and run against both Hugo Chavez in 2012 and Nicolas Maduro in 2013, from public office was officially announced. This disqualification from politics until the year 2032 rids the opposition of a vital opportunity at leadership as well as a chance at power after an 18-year long reign of the Chavistas political party.
The Venezuelan Economy
For as long as the country has been an emerging economy, Venezuela has benefited from historically high oil prices, something that has allowed the governmental body within the country to spend liberally since the beginning of the last decade. As of late, however, the decline in international oil prices is paralleled by the decline within the economy of Venezuela (World Bank; 2016).
The reason that these plummeting oil prices are slowly putting the economy in reverse is because oil accounts for approximately 95% of Venezuela’s export revenues (BBC; 2017). Because there is not a solid flow of income into the country, Venezuela is slowly exhausting their foreign reserves and currently has about $10.5 billion left, according to data from the Central Bank of Venezuela. This is such a large problem due to the outstanding debt payment that the country will owe for the entire rest of the year, coming to about $7.2 billion (CNN; 2017). All of this economic pressure couples with this intense political separation is dismantling and ravaging the country, leading to increased protests and increased governmental fear of rebellion.
The Division Explained: Why the Two Sides Can’t Seem to Agree
The opposition of the PSUV claims that since 1999, the democratic institutions and economy of Venezuela have been mismanaged, eroded, and corrupted due to the socialist party that has been in power since then. In turn, the Chavistas refer to the opposition as elitist and exploitative, claiming that they abuse and capitalize on the poor population of the country for their own monetary self-gain (BBC; 2017). This political situation can’t help but be compared to that of the United States, a country whose political atmosphere is split into two polar opposites of each other.
Venezuela consists of the Chavistas and the opposition, while the United States consists of the Republicans and the Democrats, amongst other smaller political groups that have little to no influence in the over all scheme. The Chavistas of Venezuela support a leftist ideology that is intensely liberal as it supports aspects of socialism, internationalism, feminism, green politics, and Caribbean and Latin American integration. The Democrats in the United States are similar in the fact that they also follow a left-wing rhetoric that seems to counteract that of the Republicans, supporting things such as labor unions, equal opportunity, universal health care, environmental protection, and economic fairness. The opposing side to both of these parties follows ideologies that match with the right-wing branch of politics, supporting conservative policies such as deregulation, restrictions of labor unions, free market capitalism, strong national defense, and less influence from the government.
Both in Venezuela and the United States at the moment, there seems to be political and economic turmoil that have led to protests, rallies, disputes, and remonstrations. Unfortunately for Venezuela, the outcome of such things has turned far gorier than in the United States. Violence, bloodshed, and even death have ensued in the streets of Venezuela, something that was originally meant to be peaceful protests gone violent. The government of Venezuela blamed the opposition for the attacks on pro-government demonstrators, resulting in even more hostility. There is not yet an end to this story, but hopefully we witness one soon.
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Vivanco, J. M., & Broner, T. T. (2017, April 23). What the world needs to do about Venezuela. Retrieved April 27, 2017, from http://edition.cnn.com/2017/04/23/opinions/twitter-venezuelan- protest-vivanco-broner/
Venezuela crisis: What is behind the turmoil? (2017, April 19). Retrieved April 27, 2017, from http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-36319877
Venezuela Overview. (2016, September 30). Retrieved April 27, 2017, from http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/venezuela/overview