One Big Thing: Full Scale Collapse in Venezuela
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Venezuela has more oil than Saudi Arabia and more poverty than Colombia
What you need to know:
- This month, the United States imposed additional sanctions on several Venezuelan officials, in an attempt to cut off the main source of Venezuelan government revenue and to place pressure on President Nicholas Maduro to step aside in favor of opposition leader Juan Guaido. Maduro took over from former president Hugo Chavez in 2013 and has since plunged the country into total collapse causing tens of thousands of protesters to take to the streets.
- Last January, Guido was sworn in as interim president and has subsequently been recognized by more than 50 countries as the legitimate president, among them the US and many of Venezuela’s neighbors. Internally, the security forces continue to be seen as a key player in this crisis as they have remained loyal to Maduro, who has rewarded them with pay rises and appointed high-ranking military officials in key government jobs. He still retains support from authoritarian regimes including Russia and China.
Why does it matter:
- Venezuela has not faced a civil war or international conflict, and yet, the economy has contracted by 65% since 2013, leaving four in five Venezuelans to live in poverty. This has created a shortage of food, medicine and basic goods leading to starving Venezuelans and soaring deaths in hospitals.
- The United Nations has reported that Venezuelan security forces have carried out hundreds of arbitrary killings under the guise of fighting crime and have faked evidence to make it look as though the victims died in exchanges of fire. Security forces have also violently repressed anti-regime protests — shooting demonstrators at point-blank range and brutally beat people who offered no resistance.
- More than 4.8 million Venezuelans – roughly 16% of the country’s population – have fled the country since the crisis started in 2014 and the United Nations has estimated that the number could rise to 6.5 million by the end of this year. The majority of those leaving have crossed into neighboring Colombia, from where some move on to Ecuador, Peru and Chile, while others have gone south to Brazil.
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