Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Guest Post: Venezuelan Conflict by T.W.

[I asked one of my good friends, who is knowledgeable about global politics, to give me a basic run-down of the events that catalyzed the conflict in Venezuela because we were discussing the issues in Kyiv. I'm sharing it here because it's concise, and gives what I feel to be a fantastic base for discussing the issue. Feel free to post in the comments section if you have something to add to the timeline of events or an edit to suggest.]

Ok, so similar to the situation in Ukraine, this is something of a grass roots protest against government complacency and corruption. there is an astounding inflation rate in Venezuela, and has been for some time. this means that some basic necessities, like flour, petrol and soap are unreasonably expensive. The Venezuelan government, led by Nicholas Maduro (preceded by Hugo Chavez) is internationally credited with stifling free speech, siphoning money from public funds, and brutal methods of public control. The protesters, led by Leopoldo Lopez (who is now in jail on charges Amnesty International called "blatantly spurious") demand free speech, economic stability and security, and a stable peacekeeping force. Maduro's government has blamed their economic and security problems on the US, and he recently gave US diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. Venezuelan/US relations have never been great (it's widely speculated/known that the US aided rebels in at least 2 of their military coups in the last 30 years) and the Venezuelan government is considered to be one of the most restrictive and oppressive in the world. 

Obama claims that the Maduro administration is scapegoating outside forces rather than address serious policy concerns. So far something like 15-25 people have died, and the military will probably soon be called to disperse protesters. In short, this is a serious problem, but the Venezuelan government has a lot more control than the Ukrainian government right now, so don't be surprised if the whole thing kind of fades away.

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