The Venezuelan Crisis

By Priya Kankanhalli, ’19

Consumers grocery shopping during food crisis in Venezuela

In a drastic human rights violation, Venezuelans are forced to consume two or fewer meals a day. The nation’s current economic and political situation is inflicting severe damage on the standard of living. The crash of oil prices in 2014 and President Nicolas Maduro’s reactionary policies have resulted in Venezuela’s current shortage of food, medical supplies, and other essential items. Hospitals are struggling to provide adequate treatment, and food plants are dysfunctional because of a scarcity of raw materials. Furthermore, the inflation rate, already the world’s highest, is predicted to reach 1,642% by the close of 2017 – a figure that offers little promise of improved access to resources or enhanced quality of life.

The election of Nicolas Maduro into the Venezuelan presidency in 2013 followed the cancer-induced death of former President Hugo Chavez. Under President Maduro’s term, triple-digit inflation rates and large-scale deficiencies have become the norm. His presidency is characterized by socialist administration strategies that aim to provide humanitarian services to poor nations worldwide. These strategies were also prominent during the law of late President Chavez, who belongs to the United Socialist Party along with Maduro. The United Socialist Party (PSUV), has been in power for seventeen years, and the nation is largely divided in its political loyalties. While supporters of the PSUV praise the two leaders for channeling Venezuela’s wealth in oil – which generates 95% of Venezuela’s export revenues – into reducing inequality and combatting poverty, opposition cites a distinct trend towards elitism and a selfish exploitation of the poor. The critics advocate for the removal of Mr. Maduro from office and revisited elections, though this would be a tedious and unlikely process.

Recently, President Maduro has asked the United Nations for help with providing Venezuelans with medicinal supplies as he attempts to manage the shortages internally. He cites the “economic war and the sharp fall in petroleum prices” as the culprits behind the widespread lack, failing to recognize his own role in fueling the deprivation. His efforts, however, prove halfhearted. To the dismay of Venezuela’s domestic population, who forfeit basic rights to sustenance and medicine, President Maduro recently enacted the “Venezuelan Powerhouse” business forum and dispatched two cargo planes of emergency supplies to Peru’s flood victims.

Soon, it would not be surprising to witness an international intervention in Venezuela, which is in need of desperate attention from the rest of the world. The Organization of American States (OAS), housed in Washington, has already announced intent to host a serious meeting regarding the Venezuelan crisis.


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