On Thursday, January 10 at 10:00 a.m., controversial leftist leader Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second 6-year term as President of Venezuela despite deteriorating economic and political conditions throughout the country. Although Maduro’s inauguration crowd was undeniably more sparse than in the past, a few leaders and foreign dignitaries made a point to make an appearance and show their support for the regime in spite of widespread international criticism.
As conditions worsen in Venezuela, more and more families are finding themselves in a state of food insecurity. As of 2016, two-thirds of all Caracas households surveyed by the children’s rights group Cecodap reported that they were not eating a substantial quantity of food, and that number has been rising (Walkers 2016). With few alternatives, many parents have had to turn their nightmares into reality and give up their children in an effort to provide them with food.
Venezuela’s years long economic crisis has not slowed down, as the International Monetary Fund projects a 1,000,000% inflation rate by the end of 2018 (Ellsworth). The staggering statistics of Venezuela’s crisis, including both economic and humanitarian disasters, are recorded as one of the worst hyperinflation cases in modern history. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has clung to power under wavering support for his last-ditch effort policies and socialist principles.
Since the start of the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela, the country has been seeing mass migration that has astounded many. A late-2017 survey compiled by the group Consultores 21 discovered that more than four million Venezuelans have left the country since the start of the revolution in 1999, with another 51 percent of young adults still living there stating that they had hopes of also emigrating (La Patilla 2018).
The Maduro government has staged a plan to help curb the staggering inflation crisis in the country--- by creating a new currency. The idea of implementing a new currency in Venezuela is not new, as the government had tried multiple times to restore some value in their worthless monetary system. The bad news is the country has a terrible track record with financial decisions dating back to when the value of oil took a nosedive and sent the country spiraling into crisis. Their first mistake was backing 98% of their economy in oil.
Last weekend, Venezuelans headed to the polls for the 2018 presidential election. Nicolas Maduro, the socialist successor of Hugo Chavez, took home 5.8 million votes, according to election officials, easily winning reelection with almost 68 percent of the overall votes (Neuman & Casey 2018). Henri Falcon, the leading opposition, fell more than 40 points behind to take second (Smith and Goodman 2018).
This article was written as part of the course “Latin American Economic Development” offered by Professor Marla Ripoll, Department of Economic, University of Pittsburgh.