President Maduro and President Guaidó
The past couple of months have seen Venezuela fall further into crisis with President Maduro no longer being recognised by the West as the legitimate leader, instead, recognising the self-declared interim President Guaidó.
The country’s recent economic, political and societal problems have left it in a state of turmoil. In recent weeks, President Maduro blocked multiple shipments of aid to his own people who desperately needed both supplies of food and medicine. He has conveyed that the delivery of foreign aid would open the way for US military intervention. The world has been watching on as a political crisis has led to tremendous hardship for the very people who can afford it least.
The political crisis regarding President Maduro’s legitimacy surrounds his re-election in 2018 where the opposition, including Guaidó, have raised doubt about election irregularities and the validity of Maduro’s victory. They say there is evidence of vote rigging and tampering that allowed Maduro to get his election victory. Following this and happening concurrently is the bad position that the Venezuelan economy has found itself in. The economy has contracted by a third between 2013 and 2017, added to the fact that hyperinflation could top 10 million per cent by the end of 2019 according to the IMF.
In the latest of distressing scenes coming out of Venezuela was the use of violence by President Maduro's forces, to stop people getting access to the shipments of aid and supplies. According to human rights groups, 2 people were killed as military forces used a mixture of rubber bullets and live ammunition. In trying to get aid over the border peacefully, the opposition was dealt with President Maduro partially closing the border and latterly using lethal force to stop desperate civilians from accessing the much-needed supplies.
Interim President Guaidó returned into Venezuela safely despite the threat of arrest from the regime to a sizeable crowd and large cheers. He said: "They threatened us and here we are, putting forward our face for Venezuela”. Indeed, when Guaidó returned he even reported that immigration officials welcomed him at the airport, meaning orders from the incumbent government were not followed. Guaidó claims that this shows that the “chain of command” of the government is broken and support for it is waning every passing day.
The crisis now is also taking on a geopolitical meaning with the government and President Maduro being backed and supported by Cuba, Russia and China. This opposes many Western countries who are now recognising Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela. Talks and diplomacy continue to be seen as the best way to solve this ever-increasing crisis, with both sides not wanting to escalate the situation but also wanting their aims and objectives to be met.
It seems increasingly likely that President Maduro will not step down or even allow structures to be put in place for another free and fair election, so the stalemate with growing escalations could go on for some time.