As the third week of anti-government protests in Venezuela starts an important question has been lingering: why has the international community been so passive in the face of violent repression against protesters in Venezuela? This, even as prominent international human rights organizations have condemned the government’s unchecked response against dissidents. Why have they not acted with the same resolve as in other similar recent cases in Honduras in 2009 or Paraguay in 2011?
Venezuelans remain restless as political chaos affects their country and groups have been divided into supporters of President Nicolás Maduro and the opposition. La Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV) has become a microcosm for the nation’s situation as student groups confront one another within the university's walls.
Over the last few weeks the phony trial against Venezuelan Opposition Leader Leopoldo López has been taking place. A judged ordered that López be remanded to custody–in solitary confinement, and at a military prison even though he is a civilian–for the remainder of the trial against him on charges of inciting criminal activities and arson during the opposition protests of February twelve, two thousand and fourteen.
The 17th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) this September resulted in another humiliation for crisis-stricken Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro when only about 10 heads of state showed up.1 The NAM, an anti-imperialist bloc of 120 nations whose last summit in Iran in 2012 drew 35 heads of state, first convened in 1961 with the goal of combating Western domination.2 Maduro’s opposition called the embarrassingly low attendance a “devastating failure” for Maduro.3 This is just one of a slew of recent difficulties
The Barbie Doll, possibly the most commonly criticized, iconic American toy is currently being kept at a historically and artificially low price by the anti-capitalist government in Venezuela, just in time for holiday shopping. What cost mothers and grandmothers up to three weeks minimum wage pay last Christmas (3500 bolivars) is now only about 250 bolivars or USD $3 using the bolivar-to-dollar black market conversion rate.
For Venezuela, a country whose economy desperately depends on its oil industry, the fall in the price of oil continues to wreak economic havoc. Oil exports constitute 96% of the country’s export earnings, and according to the Venezuelan Ministry of Petroleum and Mining, the end of 2014 saw Venezuelan crude oil prices fall to USD 47.05 per barrel compared to USD 95 in September 2014.
While much of the United States has been figuratively dancing in the streets about the incredibly low gas prices as of late, others have not been so fortunate to enjoy the plummet. Rather, their economies have been suffering because of it. One such nation is Venezuela, which has recently entered into a recession due to the global lack of demand for oil. Oil has been Venezuela’s primary export for years, which accounts for 96 percent of its foreign currency reception.1 The central Venezuelan bank also noted 63.6 percent inflation between November 2013 and November 2014.
2015 has been a difficult year for Venezuela, with falling oil prices and a tumbling economy, inflation has risen to 100% and there are constant shortages of basic goods.2 People have been taking to the streets to protest the government and its handling of the crisis, which in many instances it refuses to acknowledge. President Nicolás Maduro, who is a member of the same socialist party as his predecessor Hugo Chávez, has not been managing the various crises well.
Recently, Venezuela's black market economy has been “booming,” or rather, has been able to supply basic goods to consumers that the government no longer supplies on a regular basis. The economic crisis in Venezuela, which has brought on shortages of food and other goods, has become normal for citizens, but recently President Nicolás Maduro declared an economic state of emergency.