By Sabrina Pawley Benacerraf
Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, has now been named the most dangerous city in the world with tens of thousands of Venezuelans escaping to neighbouring countries. A once wealthy country, now rife with corruption, violence, and hunger, is on the brink of anarchy.
On 30 July 2017 Nicolás Maduro, the President of Venezuela held a rigged election which gave him the power to rewrite the country’s constitution with help from a highly nepotistic constituent assembly. This nepotism gave them full control over the county, allowing them to dissolve the National Assembly and change the current legislations. The current constitution is only a couple decades old and was written by his predecessor Hugo Chavez, and was praised by Maduro many times. So the question is: why rewrite it?
Maduro claims the new constitution will bring peace to Venezuela. However, the days since the election have seen more than 15 people killed in response to round the clock protests, an attack on a military base and the theft of weapons, and the arrest of opposition leaders in the middle of the night. Unsurprisingly, especially considering that more than 7.2 million people claimed they refused to vote, Smartmatic, the company responsible for supplying the voting systems, now argue that turnout figures have been inflated.
Venezuela is thought to have more oil than Saudi Arabia, and the potential to be the Norway of South America. However, corrupt official and a socialist regime have ruined the county. Furthermore, the Venezuelan economy has been brought to its knees, with shortages of food, water, electricity and medicine and inflation hitting 1000 per cent.
According to the Economist, “93% of [Venezuelans] say they cannot afford the food they need, and three-quarters have lost weight in the past year.” Additionally, the little food available is almost inedible, and the majority of available medicine is well past its sell by date.
Being half Venezuelan myself, I hear from family members still living in there, who tell me stories of rationed beans and rice containing maggots and even plastic. Therefore, it is not surprising that violence and crime are rampant, with kidnappings becoming a common affair, and trips to the black market essential for everything from sanitary towels to medicine and dollars.
However, Maduro blames this on “economic warfare” from “imperial” America and other countries. The majority of countries in South America have declared that they do not perceive Maduro as the legitimate President of Venezuela, but as a dictator that needs to step down. Furthermore, the US has imposed sanctions on not only the country but on 13 high ranking officials due to violations of democracy, human rights, and drug trafficking charges and has urged many countries to do the same.
The big question now is: what will happen to Venezuela? Will it become the second Cuba or a less militarised North Korea? The only certainty for the people still residing in Venezuela is that things will only get worse before there is any hope of them getting better.