January 23, 2019, was an epic day in Venezuela: Juan Guaidó, leader of the legislature, declared he was the acting president and would take over the powers of his country’s executive branch from President Nicolás Maduro.
The proclamation flew in the face of Venezuelan President Maduro who stood his ground, maintaining that he is the constitutional president and has no plans to step aside.
The Venezuelan anti-Maduro National Assembly holds the position that the 2018 election was not fair and that Maduro is a “usurper.” Consequently, by law, the office of the presidency is vacant. This is the point of view being promoted by 35-year-old Juan Guaidó, the newly elected president of the National Assembly.
Guaidó referred to articles 233 and 333 of the Venezuelan constitution. The law states that the leader of the National Assembly takes over as acting president under those circumstances.
After Guaidó announced that he was legally appropriating the presidency of his nation, U.S. President Donald Trump officially recognized (by Twitter, of course) Guaidó “as the Interim President of Venezuela.”
Trump’s tweet was met by Maduro with the immediate breaking off of diplomatic relations with the U.S. whose diplomats were allowed 72 hours to leave Venezuela.
Maduro has served as Venezuela’s 46th President since 2013. Before that, he was Minister of Foreign Affairs (2006 to 2013) and Vice President of Venezuela (2012 to 2013) until the death of Socialistic President Hugo Chávez.
Maduro carried forward his predecessor’s expansive social welfare programs and strict price control policies.
“Ironically, oil-rich Venezuela has seen production outputs drop dramatically since 2011,” as this writer noted in May 2018. “Maduro has been trading his country’s imported (read: expensive) crude at a loss in order to secure political alliances.”
The tyrannical socialistic leadership has left Venezuela impoverished, demoralized, and desperate. Caravans of emigrants are leaving Venezuela in droves. Many need food and medicine for themselves and their children.
In May 2018, Maduro was re-elected to a second six-year term in what were commonly regarded as rigged elections. Most opposition parties boycotted. The BBC said that voter turnout was low due to “food shortages stemming from a severe economic crisis.”
“There was never going to be any result other than a Maduro victory – and Venezuelans knew that,” wrote Katy Watson, BBC South America correspondent in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital. The on-the-scene reporter said that Venezuelans after the election “are no longer outraged. Disappointed, maybe…”
On January 10, 2019, Maduro was sworn in to a second six-year term in office. He claimed public opinion about him and his mentor Chavez was based on a “permanent campaign of lies.”
Maduro said on television, “We’re a real democracy and I, Nicolas Maduro Moros, I am a truly democratic president.”
The regional Organization of American States (OAS) doesn’t agree and refuses to acknowledge Maduro as Venezuela’s president. OAS member nations voted 19-6 with 8 abstaining against recognizing the legitimacy of the Maduro administration.
NBC named “Britain, Germany, France and Spain,” as saying they all would recognize Guaidó unless Maduro calls for fresh elections within eight days. Russia called this ultimatum “absurd,” while the term used by Venezuelan foreign minister was “childlike.”
The United States, Canada, the majority of Latin American nations, and many European states regard Maduro’s second-term May 2018 as fraudulent and illegal.
Col. José Luis Silva, Venezuela’s top military envoy to the United States, turned his support to Guaidó on January 26, 2019.
Under Maduro’s socialist leadership, crime is rampant in Venezuela and inflation is sky-high.
Extreme poverty and devastating hunger are driving up the crime rate in this South American country. In 2016, a total of 28,479 “violent deaths” were counted.
The homicide rate stood at 91.8 per 100,000 residents as compared to that in the United States: fewer than 5 per 100,000.
Crime is up and wages are down while prices continue to spiral upward. No wonder residents are eager to leave their native land for greener pastures elsewhere – and that would be just about anywhere else in the world.
“What began as an economic recession in Venezuela has quickly escalated into a humanitarian crisis where one must fight to survive,” reported The Borgen Project this month.
“Venezuela is steadily becoming the most violent country in the world,” the article continued.
The average inflation rate in Venezuela between 1973 and 2018 was 8913.75 percent! An item that cost $1 in 1973 fetches $8,913.75 today! This outrageous cost-of-living increase is simply mind-boggling. It is called hyperinflation and puts severe economic pressure on people whose income can’t possibly keep up with astronomically-high prices for everyday necessities such as eggs or gasoline.
Juan Guaidó promises to continue opposition protests against the Maduro government “until Venezuela is liberated.”
How long this will take is anybody’s guess.