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Over the past many weeks, headlines about American involvement in Venezuelan affairs have appeared all over the news cycle. Despite the dominance of the Venezuelan crisis in the news, many people are unclear about what exactly is happening in the South American nation.
The crisis in Venezuela can be traced back to the country’s 2014 recession, during which the global decrease in oil prices combined with currency regulations created hyper-inflation of the country’s dollar. A food shortage in the two years following the recession caused 75 percent of the country’s population to lose nearly 20 pounds between 2015 and 2016.
As the country began to collapse, its leader, Nicolás Maduro, began to act as a dictator. He has imprisoned his political opponents, killed civilian protestors, and has altered his country’s elections to not just retain his power, but to gain control of the government body that can modify the country’s constitution. Millions of Venezuelans fled the country in the wake of this crisis.
Fast forward to 2019, and an opposition movement has arisen. Juan Guaidó, the face of this movement, is attempting to overtake the Maduro dictatorship. Guaidó believes the dictatorship is illegitimate because Maduro supposedly rigged the May 2018 election in which he secured another term as the country’s leader. President Trump, among other global figures, is siding with Guaidó.
This side-taking doesn’t come without repercussions. Maduro, who is still in charge of Venezuela’s government, has cut all American diplomatic ties. This move has exacerbated an already-tenuous relationship between the two countries. Vice President Mike Pence has even traveled to Colombia, where he has spoken with Guaidó and other South American leaders about the Venezuelan crisis.
But that’s not all the U.S. is doing to interfere in Venezuelan affairs. America is providing humanitarian aid to Venezuela in response to the crisis. This sounds like a commendable move on its surface, but many have lambasted this action as a pretext to start a war in Venezuela. In particular, the providing of humanitarian aid to a country in the midst of civil strife is analogous to the infamous Iran-Contra scandal of the Reagan era. In this scandal, humanitarian aid provided a trojan horse for the U.S. to provide military support to Nicaraguan rebels.
Perhaps not by coincidence, President Trump may be interested in starting a war in Venezuela. In a speech he gave last week, he mentioned that “all options are on the table” for dealing with the Venezuelan crisis. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a similar statement to Fox News Sunday over the weekend. The day after Pompeo’s comments, Trump delivered even more aid — in addition to new sanctions — to Venezuela, further amplifying the U.S.’ mission to overthrow the Maduro regime. In statements delivered during his visit to Colombia, Vice President Pence spoke of the need to overthrow Maduro since he operates an illegitimate dictatorship.
As tensions rise in Venezuela and the United States ramps up the ramifications for the Maduro regime, expect to read a whole lot more about this crisis folding out on headlines across the internet.