Venezuela on the Edge of the Abyss

Venezuela is spiraling further out of control as the economic and social situation worsens by the day.

Unlike previous months of protests April has been sadly made different from the rising death toll of civilians. This month alone twenty two have died, with six dying in the first two weeks of April. According to Venezuela’s minister of communication nine were killed by electrocution while trying to rob a bakery. Three others were fatally shot the same day, with six others suffering from gunshot wounds.

Armed groups of civilians called colectivos have been confronting protestors with violent tactics to suppress their demonstrations. Colectivos are pro-government community organizations, with members that have received police training and according to experts are armed by the government. Being outside the government they have been able to more violently suppress protests through force. They have also vandalized the homes and work areas of civilians that they perceive as against the current government.

Protests have continued to increase in scale as the Maduro government continues its oppression. The Supreme Court of Venezuela absolved the legislature in an attempt to give itself the power to write laws, but later revised the decision. Opposition leaders have been routinely jailed and the Venezuelan president Maduro is quick to blame the ‘evil’ capitalist United States for its problems.

Inflation is Venezuela is the largest in the world at 741%, causing massive economic harm to the people. Not helping the worthless money is the massive lack of basic commodities such as food. A survey by three of Venezuela’s universities has revealed that 72.7% of the people have lost 19 pounds in the last year.

General Motors said on April 19th that authorities had illegally seized its plant. Due to a lack of resources currency control many plants are producing few products. This is also accompanied by other US companies such as Clorox leaving the country due to the financial crisis in Venezuela.

With the mounting social and economic despair, accompanied by an increasingly authoritarian government the future of Venezuela remains uncertain. If the protests grow increasingly violent it could make those displeased with the government believe that a peaceful solution is impossible. Especially if at the same time Maduro once again tries to gain more power. A civil war in Venezuela would be disastrous for an already oppressed people, but may be the only way out.

If Maduro were to be replaced peacefully the country would have to undergo massive reform to change the Socialists programs of the government. And there is no telling on where people would stand when it comes to reform. Those who dislike Maduro may also support the Socialists principles he advocates. Whether there would be protests then as well would also remain to be seen. It is also important to remember that the military and colectivos stand behind Maduro, and it is unknown how they would react if he was removed.

We can only hope that Venezuela manages to avert any more harm and that their situation improves.

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