Venezuela. According to Countryaah.com, Caracas is the capital city of Venezuela, a country located in South America. President Nicolás Maduro was not unexpectedly re-elected in the May 20 presidential election for a new six-year term. The 68% victory margin was the largest in Venezuela’s history in 60 years, but turnout was also the lowest since 1958. According to the Electoral Commission, which is accused of being ruled by the PSUV (Venezuelan Socialist Party) government party, 46% of registered voters voted while the opposition claimed that voter turnout was only 32%. Still, the Election Commission figure would mean that only 30% of voters voted for Maduro and that the proportion of voters who completely abstained was more than those who voted for him. His opponent Henri Falcón, who defied the opposition alliance MUD’s (Democratic Unity Assembly) call for boycott of the election, received only 21% and refused to approve the election result.
The outside world also condemned the election as manipulated by the PSUV, and the United States, the EU and the Latin American countries within the Lime Group tightened their sanctions on the country. Maduro responded by expelling a number of US diplomats. However, most countries around the world, except the Russian Federation and China, also refused to recognize the result.
The low turnout was obviously the result of disappointment over the government’s handling of the disastrous economic situation and the acute shortage of food and medicines, and many voters obeyed MUD’s call for boycott.
The political tensions in Venezuela became particularly clear on August 4, when two drone bombs exploded in the capital of Caracas in the middle of a military parade that was proved by Maduro. Exactly what happened remained unclear. Maduro himself claimed he was attacked by the country’s civil and military forces and Colombia, while the opposition claimed it was staged by Maduro himself to justify further repression. Seven soldiers from the National Guard were injured in the incident, which the government blamed Chile and Mexico on the following month.
The economy that has been in crisis for several years practically happened freely during the year. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that inflation in 2018 would be 1 million percent and that total production has fallen by an incredible 45% since 2015. On August 17, Maduro announced a series of measures to remedy the situation. Among other things, a new currency, bolívar soberano, was introduced by removing five zeros from the old currency bolívar fuertes exchange rate, which was linked to the government’s crypto-currency petro introduced for the country’s oil sector on March 22. In addition, minimum wages were raised by 3,000%, which was far from enough to compensate for hyperinflation. A cup of coffee at that time cost 200,000 bolívares, the equivalent of $ 1.
As a result of the situation, Venezuelans left the country in large numbers. UN refugee agency UNHCR reported in August that 1.6 million people have left the country since 2015, mainly to Colombia. Between 500 and 900 Venezuelans were estimated to have moved to Brazil per day and 4,000 per day to Ecuador, whose president Lenín Moreno announced in mid-August that stricter border controls would be introduced. The Venezuelan government’s reaction to the situation was contradictory. Firstly, they blamed the emigration on US sanctions that worsened living conditions in the country, and on the other hand they labeled the emigration volume as a normal migration flow.
The contemporary history of Venezuela
Venezuela’s contemporary history is the country’s history after 1998. Hugo Chávez’s victory in the 1998 presidential election represented a new era in Venezuela’s history. Chavez was the country’s first president without ties to traditional political and economic circles. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Venezuela had been characterized by great social and political turmoil, particularly linked to rising poverty and social inequalities, and by a political system that had lost legitimacy among large sections of the population.
The shift of power at the top and greater focus on social equalization and development did not result in a lower level of conflict; on the contrary. In the 15 years Chávez was president until his death in 2013, Venezuela was characterized by political conflicts between supporters and opponents of his government. At the same time, Venezuela gained a leadership position for the political left wave that spread across much of the Latin American continent in the first decade after the turn of the millennium.
In 2013, Chávez’s designated successor Nicolás Maduro won the new election. Maduro’s presidential term has been characterized by a high level of political conflict, soaring inflation and economic problems, widespread shortages of goods and social distress, and a great deal of violence and crime. Major political protests and riots in 2014 and 2017 led to a number of deaths and human rights violations, while the opposition is characterized by internal strife.
On January 23, 2019, President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó of the opposition party People’s Party (Voluntad Popular), declared himself the rightful president of the country. This with reference to the fact that the presidential elections in which Maduro was re-elected in 2018 were considered by many as illegitimate. Following Guaidó’s actions, the Trump administration heavily sidelined the opposition by tightening previously unilateral sanctions directly targeting Venezuela’s economy and oil sector, and by threatening military intervention if Maduro failed. However, the Maduro government has not yielded.
Hugo Chávez’s reign
Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías won the presidential election in Venezuela in 1998. His election campaign message was that the country needed a new political leadership, anti-corruption, redistribution of the country’s oil resources and a more inclusive and social policy.
The political processes Chávez initiated were called “the Bolivarian Revolution”, and later ” 21st Century Socialism “. Most of Chávez’s constituents came from the poor and the working class, while his opponents came mainly from the middle and upper classes.