What You Need to Know About the Venezuela Protests and the US Involvement


Valentin Guerrero [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Crowds protest against President Maduro in San Cristobal, Venezuela on Janurary 17, 2019. President Trump is considering intervening in Venezuela, evoking different reactions from University Prep’s students.

Leslie Tello, Journalist

Since the second inauguration of President Nicolás Maduro on January 10, 2019, Venezuela has been flooded with civil unrest. Claims that the election in May was rigged have circulated far and wide. This is due to the fact that his main opponents were banned from running or jailed. He also suggested that government subsidies, used to keep many families from going hungry, would be taken away from the people who did not vote for him. In addition, a boycott lead to an incredibly low voter turn out.

The re-election of Maduro has left civilians protesting in the streets against his next term. Although few people support him, many perceive him as a dictator. Under his control, the country has acquired a massive economic crisis and shortages of medicine and food have resulted from it.

Venezuelans have looked to a new politician for change- head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, Juan Guaidó. Guaidó states he wants to have new, fair elections held eventually to replace Maduro. The former engineer has declared himself the interim president and on Friday January 25, he risked his life making his first public appearance since calling himself that. According to the New York Times, he stated, “‘If they dare to kidnap me, I ask you to continue on the path and move forward in a nonviolent manner.’” He has offered members of the armed forces amnesty if they switched sides. However, much of the military has remained loyal to Maduro.

Many countries, including the US, recognize Guaidó as the legitimate president. Because of this, Maduro has accused the US of leading a coup, or an attempting to overthrow the government and he has since distanced himself from the country. Russia, Cuba, China and a few others still stand by Maduro.

The United States has placed new sanctions on a Venezuelan state owned oil company to pressure Maduro. According to the National Security Advisor, John Bolton, President Trump will not disregard US intervention. In a White House briefing room, Bolton stated, “The president has made it clear that all options are on the table.”

When asked if the US should intervene, sophomore Daniella Carrasco stated, “The only thing I hope for is for the US to help them and not cause more damage. I’m hoping for the best for Venezuela.”

Junior Katrina Gilbert thinks the US should stay out of it. “I don’t think that we should come over and help Venezuela with this because it’s none of our business who their actual president is. We have our own internal issues as well as external issues; we don’t need to add Venezuela to it.”

Sophomore Micielle Montejano believes she knows the motives behind the US’ actions. “I think that the US is trying to take Maduro out and put the other president in, so the other president can help the US gain power over Venezuela because China and Russia are trying to take Venezuela’s petroleum. The US probably wants to put that president in instead of Maduro so that president can help the US invade Venezuela for their natural resources.”

What Montejano is referring to is that Venezuela owes a lot of money to Russia and China. According to Forbes, “In fact, much of the cash it generates from selling crude oil actually goes to pay the interest on loans it has from Russia and China.” If Venezuela cannot pay, perhaps due to the US sanctions, then the countries would seize oil assets outside of Venezuela.

As January comes to an end, nothing about the future seems clear. New reports allege that police agents have raided Guaidó’s home and threatened his family. More countries are starting to recognize the opposition leader’s legitimacy. The US President is becoming increasingly vocal about his support. All we can do is watch as the protests continue to occur and the people continue to fight for what they believe in.