The Venezuelan Government – a once prospering economy of South America –hangs in the balance as more protests erupt across the nation. Over the past four years, their economy has crumbled due to the massive rise of inflation and their GDP has fallen, making essential items like food and medicine inaccessible for many people living in Venezuela. With more people rising, the situation in Venezuela is becoming tenser as the weeks go by.
The first Presidential leader to take the nation of Venezuela in the direction towards a socialist government was Hugo Chávez. Chávez led Venezuela from 1999 to 2013 and was responsible for the implementation of many social-welfare subsidies to secure his popularity among the lower-class citizens of Venezuela.
“Hugo Chávez was the strong man from 1999 to 2013. As a youth, Chávez was in Castro’s camps, acting like a disciple. Castro was responsible for recruiting much Latin American youth to venture out to Cuba,” said Keith Wise, Professor of History and Religion.
Chávez returned to Venezuela and implanted many structures of government that he initially witnessed in Cuba.
“In the 1990s, Venezuela’s economy –its GDP –was wealthy when compared to all the Latin American countries combined because of its oil production,” said Wise.
Venezuela was once the wealthiest country in South America because of its massive oil reserves. The funding for these social welfare systems came from the economy around exporting Venezuelan oil. Thus, the foundation of oil prices became the foundation for Chávez’s socialist programs.
In 2014 – when Chávez handed over power to Nicolás Maduro – the price of oil dropped and the county could no longer afford to sustain the implemented systems of welfare that were set up by Chávez.
“When Nicolás Maduro took power, he brought his interrogators to help secure his power,” said Wise.
“When Chávez took power and when power transferred to Maduro, the low-income sector still liked him, but now they are living out medicine, access to food or medicine,” said Jessica Araway (‘21).
With the future of Venezuelan leadership hanging in the balance, the Russian Federation and China both support Maduro, while the United States and the more significant majority of the European Union overwhelming support the democratic leader, Juan Gaido.
An overwhelming majority of the population of Venezuela want Maduro out of office as many are starving and actively fleeing the collapsing government.
“A good friend of mine [Sergio Castillo] is from Venezuela, so he agreed to share his thoughts on the situation in Venezuela,” said Araway.
“Maduro is not a political leader. He’s a dictator, and he violated the Venezuelan constitution,” Sergio Castillo, a former citizen of Venezuela.
As the violence and unrest continue, more Venezuelan citizens are escaping into nonbordering Latin American countries like Equator, Columbia, and Argentina. Many have also escaped into Spain, as well.
“More than five million people have escaped the country because of lack of necessities, such as food and medicine,” said Castillo.
“People are leaving. There are people in Columbia, Equator and Argentina. Many people – including Castillo – have made their way to Spain,” said Araway.
As the present situation continues to unfold in Venezuela, many more people continue to leave the county or starve under the oppressive weight of the government controlled by Maduro.
“What I found is that the people will always eventually win,” said Wise.
When the people are oppressed, their opportunity to find a better alternative is to fight or to starve. The people are a great pendulum that eventually swings itself back into equilibrium, leaving behind the past dangers of socialism and their tyrannical leaders.