Venezuela in leadership crisis

Venezuela is in an evolving political crisis that has driven millions out of the country. Two individuals are claiming the Venezuelan presidency. Juan Guido is attempting to obtain the seat from current president Nicolás Maduro.

“I know that a lot of Venezuelans moved to Lima, Peru. They take low-paying job and squeeze into small apartments,” American-Peruvian student Jon Hopkins said. “It doesn’t affect me or my family, but it’s a tough situation.”

Maduro was elected president in April 2013 after the death of his predecessor Hugo Chávez. He was sworn into his second term in early January after much protest. His election was highly opposed, as it was marred by allegations of vote tampering.

Guido, a 35-year-old man from costal Venezuela, was elected as leader of the National Assembly three weeks ago. He declared himself interim president on Jan. 23.

Many opponents were jailed or barred from running. The National Assembly invoked the constitution of Venezuela and declared his reelection illegitimate, making the presidency vacant.

Since his presidency began, Venezuela’s economic and political structures have flatlined. The consistent downward spiral has created political unrest, hyperinflation, food and medicine shortages and power outages. Many citizens view Maduro as a dictator, not president.

Inflation has become a huge problem in the country. It is estimated that the average price of items was doubling every 19 days. The economy has completely collapsed.

Maduro is currently being supported by Russia, China and the Venezuelan military.

Even though he was just recently elected as President of Parliament, he has garnered support from a majority of citizens and several international parties. Along with 20 other countries, the U.S. has announced support of Guido.

Other European countries such as the United Kingdom have yet to officially side with either man.

But the U.K. recently announced that Maduro must hold an election within eight days or it will recognize Guido’s claim of the presidency.

Maduro stated that he planned to break off relations with the U.S and stated that American diplomats had 72 hours to leave the country. Admist the chaos, U.S. officials have urged citizens to leave Venezuela.

The government has pulled out all non-emergency staff from the country but has not pulled out completely.

The United States has been accused of staging a coup against Maduro, by Venezuelan and Russian politicians.

In a U.N. meeting on Jan. 19, discussions about how to deal with the crisis were tense. Several fingers were pointed at the meeting. Some blamed Russia and China for supporting Maduro.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “No more delays, no more games… “Either you stand with the forces of freedom, or you’re in league with Maduro and his mayhem.”

By: Sierra Ross | Staff Writer