Massive Protests in Venezuela could lead to a full blown Civil War
Venezuela has seen massive protests since January 2014, resulting in the largest public demonstrations in the history of the nation.
Since then, 83 citizens have lost their lives, over 7,000 have been arrested and roughly 5,500 injured.
Millions of people are suffering from starvation and lack of medical supplies.
Since President Nicolas Maduro assumed office in April, 2013, following the death of his predecessor Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan government has found itself in intense political conflict against its own people.
Early protests began in January 2014, escalating to a massive scale by April of the same year.
In September 1, one million people went to the streets of the Capital, Caracas, demanding a recall election against Maduro, making it the largest protest demonstration in the history of the nation.
Reasons for the Conflict
There are many reasons for the unhappiness of the Venezuelan people against their government, corruption is one of them.
Venezuela has been one of the most corrupt countries in TNI (Transparency International) surveys since 1995, ranking 38th out of 41 that year.
In 2008 it was 158th out of 180 countries, the worst in the Americas, with the exception of Haiti.
The World Justice Project moreover, ranked Venezuela’s government in 99th place worldwide and gave it the worst ranking of any country in Latin America in the 2014 Rule of Law Index.
The country also suffers from huge economic problems.
According to the 2013 Globally Misery Index Scores, Venezuela was ranked as the top spot globally with the highest score.
In data provided by the CIA, Venezuela had the second highest inflation rate (56.20%) in the world, only behind war-torn Syria.
Citizens lack the most basic food necessities, (like bread, corn, rice, sugar, milk, etc) having to stand in lines for hours, many times only to find out the shelves had gone empty. Medicine is also in extremely short supply.
A young woman looking for antibiotics for her sister who suffers from pneumonia, narrates:
“We have been to approximately 40 pharmacies, and not one has medicine for my sister, I don’t know what to do.” All this happening to a country with the biggest oil reserves in the world, and who until the early 1980s, it was one of the only four Latin American countries certified by the World Bank as an upper-middle-income economy. It was also a stable, center-left democracy, quite an oasis in a region plagued by authoritarianism, insurgency, or unrest.
Escalation in Violence
To this date, the conflict only keeps escalating. While the majority of protests have been peaceful, recent deaths, like that of the young man Juan Pablo Pernalete, 20, who was killed by direct hit from a grenade launcher to the chest; a 22 year old who received various gunshots wounds in the city of Valencia, and a 28 year old government supporter shot in the stomach in Tachira state, have triggered increasing violence between protesters and State Officials.
President Nicolas Maduro commented on recent events as follows:
“We’re after and will capture the very last of the attackers,” Maduro said Saturday on national TV. “You all know that I don’t fool around. When I go after criminals, I get them, and I will capture all of these criminals who are getting their orders from the right-wingers.”
It is also important to note, that the Venezuelan Army has recently pledged their complete allegiance to Maduro and the Socialist Party.
However, many Venezuelan soldiers have defected the Army, refusing to support a government which they consider a dictatorship. A claim not far from the truth.
Nicolas Maduro delayed the state elections, supposed to be held in December, to mid-2017. Allowing 23 state governors to stay in power, months after their 4-year term ended.
Also, the Venezuelan Supreme Court stripped the country’s National Assembly of its powers. The Court ruled that all powers vested under the legislative body will be transferred to the Supreme Court, which is stacked with government loyalists.
This decision was later reversed, due to the increase in protests by the Venezuelan people.
All this, combined with the many day-to-day regulations the Socialist Party has imposed on the once democratic Venezuela, has led it’s citizens to refuse to acknowledge its government.
If we recall the events of Syria in 2011, where peaceful protests, as a result from a dictatorship escalated to a disastrous Civil War, which still continues to take thousands of lives everyday; we can easily find the similarities between these two countries.
If the situation continues, it’s only a matter of time before armed militias are formed and peaceful protests turn into a bloody civil war. Especially if Maduro wins again in the upcoming presidential elections in 2018. Only time will tell.