By Miguel Gonzalez
Many people ask me the same question, and to be honest, I asked myself this question as well: how can my home country, once the richest country in South America, a nation that is recognized to have the largest oil reserves in the world, manage to be in the worst humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere?
So, what is currently going on in Venezuela?
There is a lot of misinformation and distortion about what is going on in Venezuela. I would like to briefly explain what is currently happening in Venezuela, and how it affects all Venezuelans on a personal level.
I want to start by clarifying that what is happening in Venezuela is not a U.S. backed coup. Nicolás Maduro, who is the former president and the current usurper of the Venezuelan government, hand-picked the supreme court members. These members stripped the legitimate congress from its powers, and called for a separate congress consisting of people that sympathize with Maduro’s government. In Early 2018, the Maduro-backed congress called for presidential elections which were condemned fraudulent elections by the international community, as Maduro controlled the electoral institution of Venezuela. Even more, his government was ranked top 10 most corrupt in the globe according to the Corruption Perception Index.
On January 23, 2019, Juan Guaidó, the president of the legitimate congress, following the article 233 of the Venezuelan constitution, was proclaimed as the interim president of the country, in order to re-establish democracy and conduct free and fair presidential elections. Despite this, Maduro’s regime has decided to usurp all the powers of government institutions, and do not allow the interim president to carry out his mission.
The people of Venezuela claim for democracy to be restored in the country. Two decades of terrible administration by the government of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro have driven the country into the worst humanitarian crisis in the Western Hemisphere. According to the United Nations (UN), more than 5 million Venezuelans have fled the country due to the lack of medicines, food, and basic necessities, causing a refugee crisis of Syrian proportion.
Nearly 90% of the county’s population live under extreme poverty, and more than half of the Venezuelan families can not afford to even cover basic food needs. In fact, a Venezuelan newborn has less chance of survival than newborns in Syria, according to a study by the Secretary General of the OAS. With a shortage of around 85% of medicines in the country, and close to 13,000 doctors leaving Venezuela, people die from previously eradicated diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis. As if this was not enough, the economic crisis is the worse in the modern history of the country. The International Monetary Fund projects the inflation to reach 10,000,000% by the end of 2019.
But, is the situation as bad as these numbers show? I have lived in Venezuela for over 18 years, and I can tell you that the reality is even worse. With one of the worst crime rates in the world, Venezuelans are even unable to work safely in their home country. The minimum wage collapsed from $350 per month to $7 per month in less than a decade. In other words, the daily minimum wage cannot buy you even 2 eggs. Many of the people that migrate to other countries were once lawyers, doctors, as well as university students, and educated people who are desperately seeking for an opportunity to make enough money to feed their family.
This is a humanitarian crisis that has impacted every level of the country’s population. For example, my dad has had Type 1 diabetes for over 35 years, and cannot live without his three daily insulin shots. Decades ago, he would get his insulin from the pharmacy, as any person in a normal country would. Nowadays, he is forced to buy it abroad, and somehow bring it to Venezuela for him to be able to live. The 90% of the population living under extreme poverty do not have the means to buy the insulin abroad. This crisis is converting many treatable illnesses, into a life or death situation, killing countless along the process.
In conclusion, with the national and international media being censored in my home country, I would like to send a message from all Venezuelans to our fellow American brothers; this crisis is not about left wing versus right wing. No matter what political ideology people have, Venezuela is going through a horrendous humanitarian crisis that affects everyone on a human level, no matter what race, religion or political ideology we have; I cannot emphasize this enough. Our battle is to stop the deaths of our brothers and sisters, caused by this humanitarian crisis that we are going through. This is why more than 85% of our population openly demand a change. The only way our country can achieve this is through the re-establishment of democracy, and conducting free elections.