Due to an economy that’s facing extreme hyperinflation, Venezuelans have faced severe food and medicine shortages. According to the United Nations, Over 3 million have fled the country since 2015, with another estimated 2 million people will leaving in 2019. So what has caused this, and why has the country seen no significant changes?
Back in 2013, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, introduces his “21st century socialism and won over the poor while in rule for 14 years. He later died of cancer at 58 and passed the torch down to the Vice President Nicolas Maduro.
Using profits from the country’s oil empire, Maduro was able to provide better education and healthcare. Alongside this, he was able to cut poverty and unemployment in half, as well as double the income per capita.
due to this, “Between 2001 and 2013 Venezuela receives the equivalent of three Marshall Plans in inflation adjusted dollars — that’s for one country of thirty million people,” said Harold Trinkunas, deputy director for the Center for International Security and Cooperation at Stanford University.
This caused the economy of Venezuela to start heading downhill, and at a quick pace.
This quickly changed from being a political issue toPoverty and shortage of supplies began to become apparent as the deficit continues to grow. Due to this, opposition leaders Leopoldo López and María Corina Machado started a campaign to get Maduro out of office.
Following the initiation of the removal campaign, Thousands of Venezuelans moved to the streets in protest over the carelessness of their leader. In a span of just three months, 43 people were killed and a number more injured in the process.
On December 30, 2014, the Central Bank of Venezuela had announced that the country had finally entered a recession after oil prices began to plummet. They’d soon become the country with the highest percentage of inflation in all of the America’s.
With an inflation rate of 63%, government spending surrounding public needs were cut, making it difficult for the poverished community to access medicine and food. in between 2015 and 2016, Venezuelans lost an average of 19 pounds due to food not being accessible or affordable.
Fast forward to 2017, when the Supreme Court banned an opposition leader from participating in the elections that took place on April 7 of that year. This was met with an intense response from the people of Venezuela, who once again went to the streets to protest the corruption taking place in their governmental body. With tensions high, the protests became more violent and 66 people lost their lives in a few months while clashing with protest police.
Due to the severe conditions taking place in the country, some have been forced to take precautions that were once never considered to be an option. This includes resorting to eating trash and domesticated pets, as well as breaking into zoos and harvesting animals for food to supply themselves and their families. The practice of prostitution has also seen major growth since the initial start of the crisis.
Fox covered the story of a women who is using sex work to survive. Her alongside many others have taken their work to Columbia in order to make more money.
“I didn’t do this in Venezuela. I never ever imagined I’d be doing this in Colombia,” said Maria, who…charges $17 for 15-minutes of sex, and the money earned is spent on buying medicine for her mother who has cancer. …According to Asmubuli, a Colombian sex workers association, currently there are around 4,500 Venezuelan sex workers in the country. …It’s not just women who say they have no option but to sell their bodies for sex, but young Venezuelan men too. Dorian, 25, started working in Bogota’s Lourdes Park about two weeks ago. “It’s disappointing. I’m disappointed in myself,” said Dorian, a business studies university graduate unable to find a job and with no money to pay for rent and food.
A gleam of hope came along when the Guaidó claimed the presidency and was recognized by the United States. With support coming from the United States and a number of other countries, things began to start looking up. That being said, American help and aide was quickly blocked by Maduro who still control over what went on inside of the country. He removed all US diplomats out of the country and began to cut many ties with surrounding countries.
Today, Venezuela’s former intelligence chief has rejected Maduro and has advised the military to turn against him. President Trump backed the chief and gave an ultimatum of either turning down or facing consequences.
Many believe that the military will continue to side with their leader and continue with existing plans. The hope for Venezuela is that officials continue to work to change what is happening within the country. As for the people themselves, they will continue to love the beautiful country of Venezuela and fight for their rights while comforting each other through the storm. A storm that has denied them the access to basic human rights.