Venezuela, one of the most dangerous cities in the world, is on the brink of the abyss. The petroleum-rich country’s people are hungry, eager for change, and weary of the economic and the humanitarian crises that are ripping the Socialist nation apart.
Since February 2016, Venezuela has faced an economic crisis which has seen the prices for necessities such as toilet paper, water, eggs, and milk skyrocket; as a result the country dove into protests and chaos.
A year later several people died during clashes with security forces while holding mass protests demanding early presidential elections. Shortly thereafter; in August, Chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega was sent into exile, claiming that she was fired because the government wanted to stop her investigations into alleged corruption and human rights abuses.
In 2019, the crisis continues; in fact, according to the United States, the situation within Venezuela has deteriorated further. In addition, the Vice President of the United States declared support for an interim president to override the re-elected President Nicolas Maduro who was sworn in early on in January.
However, opposition forces led by Juan Guaidó, have rejected Maduro’s presidency and in turn, declared their leader the acting President of Venezuela. The self-declaration was vocally supported by the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and most of Latin America.
While violence and starvation are flooding the streets of Venezuela, two Presidents now occupy the nation. One who was allegedly, illegitimately re-elected Nicolas Maduro, and one who declared himself the acting President of the Socialist government.
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The United States issued a statement in support of the acting President Juan Guaidó, who is bringing with him the possibility of drastic change and the support of the West. Meanwhile, Maduro still holds the nation’s economic prowess at bay.
Venezuela sits atop the largest amount of oil reserves in the world and is one of the world’s largest exporters of oil, yet the nation’s people are starving, violence and protests have taken over the streets, and political dismay has erupted throughout the country.
As a result of the divide and the United States’ support for the interim President Guaido; the socialist’s leader Maduro will now feel the effect of sanctions from the United States.
To date, Maduro’s access to $1.2 billion worth of assets within the Bank of England was blocked, and the United States is formally sanctioning the state-owned oil monopoly PDVSA.
Further, National Security Advisor John Bolton stated that “all options are on the table” and that Venezuela would face a “significant response” if any harm came to U.S. diplomatic personnel, Guaido, or Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly.
The United States’ sanctions against Maduro are intended to persuade the leader to cede power to the opposition leader.
“Today’s designation of PDVSA will help prevent further diverting of Venezuela’s assets by Maduro and preserve these assets for the people of Venezuela, “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during a White House news conference. “The path to sanctions relief for PDVSA is through the expeditious transfer of control to the interim president or a subsequent democratically elected government who is committed to taking concrete and meaningful actions to combat corruption.”
“I’m sure many of our friends in the Middle East will be happy to make up the supply, as we push down Venezuela’s supply,” Mnuchin continued.
In addition to the sanctions, the United States may deploy some five thousand troops to Colombia should tensions rise, as was evidenced by John Bolton’s notes during a press conference. However, the United States has yet to formally announce such action.