Ever since Nicolás Maduro was elected as the President of Venezuela in 2013, Venezuela has been caught in an ever-worsening economic crisis. The Venezuelan government heavily relies on oil for income, and the sudden global depression of oil prices has caused the Venezuelan economy to freefall. Venezuelan citizens now suffer from hyperinflation, resulting in endemic hunger, and medicine shortages.
This year, amidst the economic crisis and growing opposition against President Maduro, Juan Guaidó, leader of the opposition-held National Assembly declared himself as the interim president of Venezuela. In an attempt to alleviate the economic crisis, Mr Guaidó, who is currently based in Colombia, organised the gathering of food and medical aid from the international community along the Venezuelan borders in Colombia and Brazil.
The date for supplies provided by international humanitarian aid was set to be trucked into Venezuela on Saturday, 23 February 2019 by Mr Guaido. Many speculated that a successful entry of foreign aid into Venezuela organised by Mr Guaido would be strongly indicative of President Maduro’s weakening grip on power. To prevent this scenario, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro stationed his National Guards along the borders to prevent the entry of foreign aid. This has resulted in violent clashes between protesters and the national guards, with up to 2 lives reportedly lost.
What happens next?
Amidst this ongoing economic crisis, with the US now recognising Mr Guaido as the legitimate president of Venezuela, the crisis has become political. American sanctions enacted in late January against Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela also serve as economic sabotage in an effort to bankrupt the Maduro administration. Additionally, with a meeting scheduled between US Vice President Mike Pence, Juan Guaido and the Colombian President, as well as reports of Venezuelan soldiers defecting, domestic and international pressure is mounting on President Maduro to alleviate the economic crisis or risk losing his grip on power entirely.