Understanding the Difficulties in Venezuela

By Tyler, SJPJC Intern

Many years ago, I was given an assignment to write about a random news article for one of my classes. The article I chose was clearly an opinion piece detailing how then President Hugo Chávez was effectively the dictator of Venezuela. Because I did not  know the topic prior to reading the article, it completely changed my opinion to a rather uninformed one similar to what many others may have had about Chávez.
After his death in 2013, Nicolás Maduro replaced Chávez as president and, to an uninformed individual, this may have appeared to be an improvement in leadership, yet this marked the beginning of turmoil in Venezuela. Today, seeing the current struggle for power in Venezuela between Maduro and the rising self-declared president Juan Guaidó has given me a different understanding than what I previously held for Venezuela. Both men have different beliefs for how Venezuela should be run with Guaidó coming from lesser known origin to usurp power. To attempt to learn further about the situation, I decided to attend an event at the San Jose Peace and Justice Center titled U.S. Hands Off Venezuela. I then used this knowledge in combination with information I learned about Venezuela in my recent classes to understand the differences in perspective for the direction of Venezuela.
The Hands-Off Venezuela event was run by PSL, an organization with an emphasis on left-wing beliefs. However, in the context of this discussion, their beliefs and political agenda are not important. What the event did indicate was a differing perspective on the conversation of Venezuela than previously established from the current government.
While the government establishes a stance backing Juan Guaidó as the president, the PSL backs Nicolás Maduro as the president. Overall, the message of the PSL has a pro-Maduro viewpoint. The PSL do not support the USA’s backing of Guaidó over Maduro, stating it to be a coup to put a US backed leader in control of Venezuela. Historically, the USA has been against Maduro and Hugo Chávez because they do not follow America’s political stance for governing, but there is not proper evidence to establish the USA as wanting a coup. The PSL did present news and stances stating such, but I am unable to verify the validity of that evidence.
While some stances of the PSL are difficult to follow, they did make sure to represent people living in Venezuela with interviews on the ground-level. This established that there are citizens who believe in Maduro and his practices, despite criticism from outside parties. Some appear to be against the USA’s beliefs, which is understandable considering it is their country and livelihood.
The USA’s hostilities with Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro continued though sanctions in combination with Venezuela’s economic struggles involving fluctuating oil pricing has given rise to the current happenings in the nation. Juan Guaidó’s backing from the USA will only seek to create further difficulties in the nation of Venezuela. While the USA may disagree with Maduro’s current practices, he was still officially elected as head of state regardless of the legitimacy behind the election. Overall, when discussing this crucial and difficult topic, it is important to take an unbiased approach to the situation. Without the proper knowledge, history, and understanding, it is entirely possible to take a stance without care for the actual citizens in Venezuela, the ones who matter most above policy.

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