As the press releases horrific images of the chaos and violence in Venezuela at the moment, those of you who haven't been keeping tabs on Latin American politics may be wondering what on earth is going on. Here's a recap...
In March 2013, notorious dictator Hugo Chávez died of cancer and Nicolás Maduro, who was Vice President at the time, took Chávez's place. His leadership and mismanagement has led to a deep economic crisis, with Venezuelans suffering a fourth year of recession, power cuts, widespread shortages of food and medicine, the world's worst inflation rate at 1,660%, and long lines at supermarkets. Up until 1998, Venezuela was South America's most stable democracy, and has the largest oil reserves in the world. Yet inflation is now in triple digits and there are massive food and medical shortages affecting residents of all income brackets.
His opposition, who have taken to the streets in a protest that has turned horrifically violent, demand freedom and to bring the 2018 presidential election forward. Maduro's government is taking a violent stance against the protesters, with a growing death toll and number of injuries, and the opposition's leaders are being imprisoned for nothing more than opposing Maduro's policies. People are getting tear-gassed, beaten and lit on fire.
Just yesterday, a video emerged of one of Maduro's tanks running over and crushing a protester, which can be viewed on the NBC website. Meanwhile, Maduro has appeared carelessly dancing around on live television, which can be viewed here. To date, 37 people have been killed in the protests, more have died as a result of not having access to medicine. More than 700 have been wounded.
Getting food, medicine and aid to Venezuela can be tricky, but email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to help, with SOS Venezuela in the subject line. We are working on ways to streamline assistance and help the Venezuelans.