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Venezuelan Unrest

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Venezuelan Unrest

Gavin Kuncl and Austin Liu

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Unrest in Venezuela has become more and more rampant over the week, with the sitting President, Nicolas Maduro, refusing to leave office, and another named Juan Guaido claiming leadership due to fraudulent elections.

President Trump has thrown his support to Guaido, as well as administration officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence calling for Maduro’s departure.

Diplomatic relations broke between Venezuela and the United States when Guaido was recognized, and Maduro ordered U.S. diplomats to leave Caracas by Jan. 26. Maduro did eventually step back a little, allowing staff to stay for 30 days as a skeleton crew. Despite that, the US did order the departure of non-emergency personnel.

In addition to pressure from the United States, the European Union also commented on the situation. Giving him eight days to call for new elections or they would recognize Guaido as the leader. Maduro lashed out at the EU, “They must withdraw this ultimatum. Nobody can give us an ultimatum,” and no new elections have happened or been announced.

Guaido told The Washington Post that the opposition was ready to challenge the government authority by bringing much-needed food aid into the country. This aid would be possible by a $20 million pledge from the United States, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and the European Union. Aid has been attempted in the past, but Maduro has largely blocked them all, claiming that all the reports of mass hunger and disease were works of fiction created by his enemies. The “works of fiction” that Maduro has mentioned do exist, as hyperinflation has plummeted the availability of food.  A man named Ronny went as far to tell CNN that, “We can’t hold it in anymore. We are being crushed. We are beggars now, always begging. This isn’t political, it’s survival. People are killing each other for a kilo of rice, or flour, or water.” The economic mismanagement has made it so that a basket of water, nuts, cheese, ham and fruit cost $200. The value of the Venezuelan bolivar is so low, that the in-game currency of ‘World of Warcraft’ is worth seven times as much. One US dollar is worth 248,521 bolivares.

In addition, the ruling socialist party has become very authoritarian, controlling all institutions, stripping the democratically elected National Assembly of power, crushing anti-government demonstrations with security forces, vetoing attempts to democratically remove Maduro from a leadership role, and either arresting opposition leaders, forcing them into exile, or stripping them of the right to run for public office. Even the rising star of the opposition, Guaido, has been arrested before and could be arrested again.

Hundreds of thousands have been protesting, and locals have clashed with police. Even some opposition supporting lawmakers like Rafael Guzman are even participating. “They use their weapons against us, so people are using what they have,” Guzman told Reuters. Armed forces have also been raiding homes and taking residents. Currently, protesters have begun flinging bottles of excrement mixed with water at security forces. Not all protesters have embraced this tactic though. Both Guaido and defectors outside of Venezuela have called on the military to rise up against Maduro. However, the top brass of the military still firmly support Maduro but the rank and file are other stories. An anonymous soldier that talked to CNN said that he gets a dollar and a half on the first of every month, while the senior officers are rich. He also added that “I would say about 80% of the army is against the government, especially the troops, who are going through a lot more than the officers…”

Maduro’s rhetoric echos of pre-2016 North Korea. Where now North Korean officials are willing to meet and talk, they use to drop threats of war and or nuclear destruction almost daily. Maduro’s Instagram is filled to the brim with videos of chanting army personnel, parading the capabilities of the Venezuelan military. With one post, after translation, reading, “There was no empire capable of stopping the strength of the liberator army, our military are aware of it and with the same determination will defend our homeland.” Many other posts follow this trend.

As of Feb 6, the Maduro administration has blocked off the Tienditas Bridge with shipping containers, an oil tanker and makeshift fencing. This was done to deny the incoming foreign aid. “We are not beggars,” said Maduro. Cameras have also been found to be monitoring the activity on the bridge.

Fears about US intervention have also been going around.

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About the Writers
Gavin Kuncl, Writer

I'm Gavin Kuncl. I'm a Junior working with the FHS Register staff. I'm an only child with Czech ancestry, (then Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic.)...

Austin Liu, News Editor, Reporter

I am currently a senior attending Fayetteville High School. Welcome to the official website of the FHS Register Newspaper and its publications!Besides...

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