What’s going on in Venezuela?

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What’s going on in Venezuela?

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Two men are claiming to be president. Hunger and violence is ravaging cities. Hospitals are struggling to treat preventable diseases and malnourished children. Food shortages, hyperinflation, and the collapse of the public health system have taken a catastrophic toll on the nation’s citizens. Clearly, Venezuela is currently facing one of the most severe political and humanitarian crises in modern history.

“Just two weeks after President Nicolás Maduro was sworn in for a second term, an opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, declared himself the interim president,” causing political tensions to skyrocket, according to the New York Times.

Numerous countries, including the U.S. and Canada, along with thousands of citizens, have shown their support of the challenger.

“Tens of thousands of protesters rallied across the country on Wednesday in support of Mr. Guaidó, and the United States, Canada and many Latin American countries quickly recognized him as the legitimate head of state,” the New York Times stated in a recent article.

So, who is Juan Guaidó, and how did he earn the loyalty of Venezuelan citizens and supporting countries?

According to CNBC, Guaidó, “has long been a critic of Mr. Maduro and Mr. Chávez, becoming politically active as a student leader in Caracas and leading protests against Mr. Chávez’s clampdown on press freedom.”

Juan Guaidó has also made his presence known to citizens by organizing rallies and protests in opposition of Nicolás Maduro. However, his uncompromising stance against Maduro has not come without cost.

“Leopoldo López, the former leader of the party and one of Mr. Guaidó’s mentors, was sentenced to more than 13 years in prison after leading street protests in 2014 that challenged Mr. Maduro,” says the New York Times.

Even Mr. Guaidó himself has served time behind bars due to his noncompliance.

According to the same article by the New York Times, “Mr. Guaidó, who declared his intention to have Mr. Maduro removed from power just days after the inauguration, was briefly detained by security forces earlier this month.”

In addition to police regimen, the Venezuelan military is still under the control of Nicolás Maduro.

According to ABS-CBN News, “Any change of government will rest on a shift in allegiance within the armed forces. So far, they have stood by Maduro through two waves of street protests and a steady dismantling of democratic institutions.”

Aside from a political uprising, is Venezuela enduring extreme food shortages, high consumer costs, and disease.

According to monitoring groups, “80 percent of Venezuelan households don’t have sufficient access to food.”

Additionally, the humanitarian crisis has lead to a mass migration of Venezuelan citizens into neighboring countries.

“Some 3 million Venezuelans have fled abroad over the past five years to escape worsening living conditions,” according to CNBC.

This has since caused an immigration crisis to countries surrounding Venezuela.

“More than three million people have left since 2014, according to the United Nations migration agency, setting off a regional crisis that has left neighboring countries grappling with how to respond,” says the New York Times.

As of now, it remains unclear how the crisis in Venezuela will be resolved. However, it seems as though the outcome heavily depends on whether or not the military remains loyal to Maduro.

“The Venezuelan leadership may hinge on whether Mr. Maduro can maintain control over the military. As of now, the military has pledged its allegiance to Mr. Maduro,” stated the New York Times.