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The Venezuela Crisis and the dictatorial rule of Nicholas Maduro
22. September 2018 at 21:40
The Venezuelan situation has continued to grow from bad to worse since 2014 when the GDP growth decline to -3.0%. Indeed, it was a moment of gory like situation when the IMF projected an all time inflationary rate due to hit 1 Million % at the end of 2018.
Known for her petroleum oil base reservoir, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela prides herself as one among the world's leading exporter of oil. A fit which have contributed immensely to the growth and development of the nation in recent time past. Given a rich history of both oil boom and economic ascendancy, the southern America nation on the northern coast comprising great continental landmasses inclusive of huge islands and islets in the Caribbean sea, have also suffered series of economic setbacks, shocks, and political overtures.

Given her period of economic meltdown both in the 80's and 90's, to the deadly Caracazo riots of 1989 which led to the death of several thousand of Venezuelans in their numbers, this Latin America nation has no doubt witnessed a tale of negative political experience both from the stables of political strongmen to the corridors of presumed democratically elected leaders ever since it gained full independence as a separate entity in 1830. With a geographical and territorial landscape spanning over 916,445 Km Sq (353,841Sqm), Venezuela rated among the most urbanized countries in Latin America is bordered on the north by the Caribbean sea and the Atlantic ocean, to the west-coast by Colombia, on the south by Brazil. Stretching it's bandwidth, it connects Trinidad and Tobago on the north-eastern pole which by extension glides through the sovereign state of Guyana on the east.

A nation well endowed to the bone, Venezuela remains a resourceful base in the midst of the South American belt. According to conservation international, headquartered in Arlington, Virginia in the US, Venezuela is ranked among the seventeen mega-diverse countries in 1998, having been identified as harboring the majority of Earth species with a high percentage of endemic species. Indeed, a nation so bless but then again, just like any other economic viable country, it has unfortunately witnessed series of government whose policies indicators has severely plundered the oil rich nation into a state of dastard economic and financial comatose, resulting into unthinkable poverty level, social malaise, as well as worsening state of the nation.

Despite the 1973 oil crisis which lasted between October 6th - 27th, as well as the 1979 energy crisis all due to the Arab- Israeli war and Iranian revolution which significantly caused several short and long term effects on global politics and global economy, the Venezuela economy stood unperturbed. In fact, it was a time when the economy witnessed stability and unprecedented strength given the hike of oil prices. The country's income exploded as oil prices soared on until the 1980's when the collapse of the oil boom reign led to the immediate bedeviling of the economy which was largely attributed to the latter days of the energy crisis.

In Feb 1983, Venezuelans witnessed a devastating fall both in her financial metrics as well as her living standard. Consequently, her currency underwent devaluation in her bid to micromanage the growing index rate of inflation. Indeed, it was a moments Venezuelans wished never happened, as they struggled along with hardship, financial impropriety, and a disheartening economic down-slide. Arguably, it is common knowledge that the country soared economically in select government administrations viz; Rómulo Betancourt (1945-1948?; 1959-1964), Rafael Caldera (1969-1974; 1994-1999?) and Carlos Andrés Pérez (1974-1979; 1989-1993?). The political and economic deviance saw every administration attain a varied rate of success given the true financial structure as it were in every administration.

The dictatorial act of Nicholas Maduro
Since the launch of the Bolivarian Revolution in 1999 led by late president Hugo Chavez of the Fifth Republic Movement and later the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), the Venezuelan state has underwent series of economic glitches and political misdemeanor. Named after Simón Bolívar, a Venezuelan political figure head who is known to have liberated what is today known as Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Panama as sovereign states, independent of Spanish Empire.

Hugo Chavez who ruled Venezuela for two terms, died on March 5th 2013. An administration largely known for it neck deep reliance in oil base resources, resulting in the collapse of every other functional sector of the economy. A clear case in the economic term "Dutch Disease." The arrival of Nicholas Maduro as president of Venezuela on April 14th 2013 brought a different dimension to the politics of direction and policy analysis. After winning the election with over 50.61% of the votes against the opposition's candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski who had 49.12% of the votes, the Venezuelan economy has not known progress.

Indeed, president Maduro has since erased the culture of democratization in the Venezuelan political space and countenances. Mr Maduro has since continued to steer the ship of states in a rather awkward manner to the detriments of the masses. Maduro who has on many occasion preferred autocratic style of ruler-ship, have continued to lead the Latin America nation using executive powers and absolute decree. Since 2014 to present, the Venezuelan economy has remained in recession without a strain of hope towards recovery with a Nicholas Maduro in absolute possession of power.

This has sparked series of protest and chants on the major streets of Venezuela calling for the resignation of Nicholas Maduro whose dictatorial style in governance as well as her negative policies has led the oil rich nation into a state of financial drowsiness and economic paralysis. High level of criminal violence, corruption, hyperinflation, and chronic scarcity of basic goods due to policies of the federal government has led to series of violent protest against the incumbent president. In 2015, the country had the worst rate of inflationary index level in the world, surpassing the 100% mark and becoming the all time highest in the nation's annals of economic downturn.

In a clear violation of the constitution in the Article 338th: "The approval of the extension of States of emergency corresponds to the National Assembly."In July of 2016, Nicholas Maduro extended an economy emergency which he previously declared in an unconstitutionally show of shame in January of same year.Forcing citizens to work in agricultural set-up field and farms in a bid to supply food to the dying nation. The food shortage in the land has reached a peak. According to a Spanish newspaper publication in September of 2016, it was observed that 15% of Venezuelans eat from trash waste been discarded by commercial establishments.

The prisons have not been left out in this protest as inmates flagrantly show their discontent through riots which is an indicative of a terrible social situation leading to an overcrowded prison with little or no care for inmates. In a shocking Fox news Latino report, 40 inmates at the Táchira Detention Center in Caracas dismembered and consumed three fellow inmates. This is an indicative of the worsening state of affairs in a nation once known to be the pride of Latin America. With over 2.3 million Venezuelans fleeing to other nations due to the progressive state of hunger, crime, and series of protest indicating a worse state of social indicators, the Venezuelan population has since continue to decline in their numbers with many plying the border routes to neighboring Colombia among other economically viable nation within the continent set-up.

According to the Venezuela National Assembly index of consumer prices/IMF, the annual inflation rate calculated in July of 2018 marks at 83,000%. The IMF however forecast a rate of over 1 Million % at the end of 2018. In a report by the Venezuelan Observatory on Violence (OVV) detailing the rate of wanton killings/homicidal rate as calculated, the figure which was approximately 79 per 100,000 has risen dramatically to 90 per 100,000. Having quadrupled in the past 15 years with over 200,000 people murdered. According to the OVV, a person is murdered every 21 minutes in Venezuela.

In a nation where 1 USD is equivalent to over 248,000 Venezuelan Bolivar, getting the smallest of any commodity mean that privileged citizens will need a stack of Bolivar even if they need to get grocery. The situation in Venezuela seems to be growing from bad to worse as Nicholas Maduro continue to make policy which defies commonsense and rational thought. Clamping down on opposition and decreeing with reckless abandon, suiting the whims of his cronies and loyal ally of the governments.

According to a report by corruption perception index in 2010, Venezuela was indexed number 164, out of 178 ranked corrupt countries in government transparency. Subsequently, by 2016, the figure has increased to 166 out of 178. An indicative of a tale of corruption indices been perpetuated by Nicholas Maduro who has continued to devastate and plummet the once rich oil nation into a state of absolute penury. Maduro's 2018 election victory with 67.8% of the vote over opposition rivals Henri Falcón of the progressive advance party was an apparent rape on the nations democratic setting. According to critics, it was a show election meant to achieve just one purpose. The lowest voter turnout (46.07%) in the annals of Venezuelans democratic dimension.

An election which has since been rejected by the United Nations, European Union,the Organization of American States, the Lima Group and countries such as Australia and the United States. Recently, a deviant Maduro got the backlash of many Venezuelans when a news flash was mirrored on the Venezuelan president at an Istanbul's famous Nusr-Et steakhouse run by Turkish celebrity chef Nusret Gökçe, better known as 'Salt Bae.' The flamboyant chef was seen serving president Maduro alongside wife Cilia, an expensive steak during a dinner in Istanbul.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment," a rigid Maduro was caught voicing his deliberation of cheer moments to fellow diners. At a time when many Venezuelans are dying of hunger and absolute starvation, Maduro was seen living an ostentatious lifestyle outside the shores of a troubled nation. The authoritarian leader defied the beauty of commonsense when he went all out feasting at a time when the economic crisis in Venezuela has passed the extreme.

Foremost critic and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also weighed in on Twitter, condemning the spectacle and show of shame by the Venezuela dictator. "I don't know who this weirdo #Saltbae is, but the guy he is so proud to host is not the President of #Venezuela. He is actually the overweight dictator of a nation where 30% of the people eat only once a day & infants are suffering from malnutrition." According to the misery index in 2013, Venezuela is ranked at the top spot globally with the highest misery index score. Again, in a world bank report in 2015, the oil rich nation topped the misery index rank and has since continue to plunge into severe hardship and extreme poverty line.

In a leaked document report from the central bank of Venezuela, the country ended 2015 with an inflation rate at 270% and a shortage rate of goods pegged at 70%. Both the International Financial Cooperation, Citibank, World bank, as well as the Zurich Financial Services have all rank the Latin America nation in one report or the other as a bad spot in doing business. Maduro in a televised speech noted in Feb of 2018 the intention of his government to effect the use of petro currency. A controversial cryptocurrency intended to supplement Venezuela's plummeting bolívar fuerte currency. Petro as it is right now, has no international recognition with any financial global trading institution. A move many has seen as another slap on the faces of many Venezuelans who now strive in uncertainties with each passing day.

Cite This Article As: Dickson Eyinmosan Jnr.. "The Venezuela Crisis and the dictatorial rule of Nicholas Maduro." International Youth Journal, 22. September 2018.

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