The last few years have marked Venezuelan history and have led to the current uprising of the people in 2019.
The start of 2019 seems to have fortified the Venezuelan people to once again demonstrate to their government that they will not stand for the current political situation. People in cities all over Venezuela—and all over the world—have continuously taken to the streets to protest Nicolas Maduro’s presidential dictatorship. These protests are notorious for becoming violent due to the military intervention that continuously opposes the people and have led to at least 240 Venezuelans murdered at marches, primarily students who are trying to change their country’s politics. The opposition is much more complex than a disagreement with the political party; rather, it is an accumulation of political instability, economic crisis and the continuous violation of human rights.
President Maduro came into power following the death of President Hugo Chavez in 2013, whose presidency was also widely considered authoritarian. The last two years in Venezuela have been crucial.
In 2017, President Maduro used his powers to nullify the Venezuelan National Assembly, a legal body that acted similarly to Congress in the United States, and it was the only institution that held an opposition majority. Instead, Maduro created the Constituent Assembly, which is completely controlled by his party. The assembly members were determined through elections that, according to the Washington Post, were deemed illegitimate on an international level.
The election rules were rigged in order to favor Maduro’s preferred outcome by allowing multiple votes per person, skipping important regulations to ensure validity and not registering the names of voters. This resulted in a new legislative body fully under Maduro’s control.
On May 20, 2018, Maduro was reelected for his second term through another internationally illegitimate, invalid and corrupt election. Imprisonment or banishment of the opposition’s most popular political candidates left the opposing party unable to truly run. According to the New York Times, the elections were moved up from December to May, which also kept the opposition from formally organizing and preparing for the elections. In response, many opposition leaders called for an election boycott. They predicted that only 20 percent of the country would vote. Most public servants were forced into voting in favor of Maduro’s candidates through intimidation tactics. The country was once again cheated into another six years under Maduro’s presidency.
The Venezuelan people have suffered astounding economic crisis, health epidemics that have ravaged the collective health of the country due to lack of medicine, as well as a lack of general commodities such as food, medical supplies and other basic living necessities.
In the beginning of 2019, Venezuela once again found itself standing up against the injustices of Maduro’s political party. Because the 2018 elections were not considered valid internationally, the country technically did not have a president-elect. In January 2019, Juan Guaido, who is the president of the National Assembly, was sworn in as interim president. He is formally backed internationally by many countries, including the United States, Canada, Argentina, Spain’s socialist government and many other European and South American countries. Under Venezuela’s constitution, in the absence of a legitimate president, the president of the National Assembly takes power until fair elections can be held. These last few weeks, Guaido has been establishing dominance over the Venezuelan government by electing officials and reaching out to key international players for support and assistance, despite Maduro’s continued lack of collaboration.
It no longer matters what political party you support but rather bringing an end to the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. The next few weeks will be important as humanitarian assistance is sent to Venezuela and Maduro continues to be backed into a corner.