The south American country of Venezuela is known for a few things; Caracas, the stunning
landscapes, and the culture. Think towering waterfalls and south American cuisine. What most
people don’t tend to think of is poverty, social upheaval, and the harsh ruling of an authoritarian
dictator. But welcome to the real world. Currently, this spot of South American beauty is facing one
of its worst financial, social, and political dips in its history.
Currently, the UK government website (GOV.UK) states that UK citizens should not travel to any part
of Venezuela except for ‘essential travel’. This is due to high levels of ‘crime and instability’, and that
in a bad situation the UK embassy might not be in a place to help. What isn’t stated on their website
is that these levels of crime are all for a reason. Last year, rates of kidnapping in Venezuela doubled.
According to insightcrime.org in 2015, there were 219 kidnappings between January and the last
week of September. Last year that number had reached a staggering 411 reported kidnappings over
the same time frame. The huge strain on people’s financial stability is forcing many to turn to
hideous actions, such as kidnapping for ransom, to afford basic needs. If numbers like this don’t
make you stop and think there is clearly something wrong here, I don’t know what will. Yet over the
past year, when Venezuela’s political situation has been slumping further into crisis, I have seen a
one brief news report that didn’t take half an hour of digging around the internet for. Why is it that
the big news companies don’t want to report on what I feel is a hugely important piece of world
news? It is a good question and unfortunately not one that I myself can answer, but what I can do it
try to make the situation a little clearer.
The main issue in Venezuela is the corruption of their government. What was once one of the
strongest democracies in the world, and at one point the richest country in Latin America has since
declined into turmoil. The president, Nicolás Maduro, has been in power now since 2013. He has
been named by many as a dictator, and has done little in helping the people of his country over the
last four years. The country is facing awful hyperinflation, in fact it currently has the worst rate of
inflation in the world. Basic goods are unaffordable. Worse yet, Maduro has been known to exploit
the worthlessness of the Venezuelan currency. All of Venezuela’s food imports are controlled by the
military. All food comes into the country with the monetary exchange rate, that Maduro only offers
to his allies, at 10 Bolivar to 1 US dollar. This food is then sold in Venezuela on the black market at
the real exchange rate of 12,163 Bolivar to 1 US dollar. If that is not a clear sign of government
corruption and exploitation, then I don’t know what is. Worse still, recently Maduro has proposed a
reformation of the Venezuelan government. This reformation of its constitution is being presented
by Maduro as a way to help the country’s current crisis, but for those who can see through him, it is
another grab at complete power, removing any remaining opposition. And this is just what he has
done, with the recent vote on July 30th that many claim was fraudulent. The people of Venezuela
have been protesting since 2014, and three years later those protests have reached their peak.
People are fighting against the corruption almost daily, and so far according to a report by CBS the
death toll from these protests has now surpassed 100 lives.
It is this number that makes me think the crisis has not been presented to the world enough. If
thousands of people believe their own lives are worth even a chance that their country regains a
state of peace, and over 100 of those people have paid that price, should the world not be seeing
what can we done to end Maduro’s reign over the once beautiful country of Venezuela?