Is Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro a Dictator? by Michael Townsend at University of California, Los Angeles
Nicolas Maduro, who is the President for Venezuela, has been in office since 2013 and took over after Hugo Chavez. Because Maduro continued Chavez’s policies, Venezuela’s economy declined with crime, inflation, poverty and hunger increasing which made him lose popularity. He still maintains power with his electoral authority and use of military. Much like Hugo Chavez, Maduro has been accused of being a dictator because of his authoritarian like government. Venezuela has been in its worst recession due to its plunge in global oil prices and failed state-led economic policies.
What is also interesting about Maduro is that he used to be a bus driver and also worked as a bodyguard until he earned a place in Chavez’s inner circle because he helped him get released from jail because of anti-government activities. This lead to him being appointed as foreign minister and vice president. And according to Eric Olsen, who is the deputy director of the Latin American Program at the Wilson Center, “People were surprised when Chávez handpicked him as his successor because there were more powerful politicians.”
Earlier this year, Louis Ortega, who was fired from Maduro’s government, filed a complaint and contacted the International Crime Court to charge Nicolas Maduro for crimes against humanity. According to Ortega, Maduro is responsible for the deaths of 8,290 people during the span of 2015-2017. Ortega stated that, “We have been forced to turn to an international organization because there is no justice in Venezuela.” She has also said that, “Nicolas Maduro and his government should pay for these crimes against humanity just as they must also pay for the hunger, misery, and hardship they’ve inflicted on the Venezuelan people.”
Maduro created a Constituent Assembly that made it possible to “override the traditional National Assembly” Her complaint included evidence from Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino and intelligence chief Gustavo Gonzalez for being involved as well.
The U.N. High Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein even said, “It must be barely alive, if still alive, is the way I would look at it.” “I think we would argue that over the course of time we have seen a erosion of democratic life in Venezuela.”
Although it may seem like it is still a democracy on the outside looking in because it will have an new election this year, according to Sioban Morden, “they will surely be rigged” in the favor of the Socialist United Party. With basically no opposition, this takes advantage of the venezuelan people. Another factor is that most of the wealthier people have fled the country because of the big economy crisis that is happening due to the massive amount of inflation, which leaves the majority of the population middle or lower class.
Since there are millions of people who are suffering from this economic crisis, they are more dependent on the state. Nicolas Maduro started a using a strategy by keeping the vote of those people by having a monthly food supply box given to them called CLAP boxes. One woman said, “I and other women I know are going to vote for Maduro because he’s promising to keep giving CLAPs, which at least help fix some problems.” Many of the people in Venezuela rely on this box because they are only making minimum wage and may suffer from malnutrition.
What is also interesting about Maduro is that he used to be a bus driver and also worked as a bodyguard until he earned a place in Chavez’s inner circle because he helped him get released from jail because of anti-government activities. This lead to him being appointed as foreign minister and vice president. And according to Eric Olsen, who is the deputy director of the Latin American Program at the Wilson Center, “People were surprised when Chávez handpicked him as his successor because there were more powerful politicians.” What makes him more controversial is the fact that he lacks charisma and political wisdom is deficient.
Maduro has taken backlash from the US and the EU along with neighboring countries for his political tactics and the many violations of human rights. President Trump is aware of what is happening and stated, “We have many options for Venezuela. And by the way, I am not going to rule out a military option,” he said. “Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering, and they are dying.” But the Maduro and his son did not take too kindly what Trump said and they responded by saying, “If the unlikely event of defiling the homeland came to pass, the rifles would arrive in New York,” he said. “Mr. Trump, we would arrive and take the White House.”
The government of Valenzuela and the support of Maduro is still standing because of his military and now the question is how do we stop them without going to war?
Aponte, Andreina. “For Poor Venezuelans, a Box of Food May Sway Vote for Maduro.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 12 Mar. 2018, www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-food/for-poor-venezuelans-a-box-of-food-may-sway-vote-for-maduro-idUSKCN1GO173.
“Democracy ‘Barely Alive’ in Venezuela, U.N. Rights Chief Says.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 30 Aug. 2017, www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-politics-un-zeid/democracy-barely-alive-in-venezuela-u-n-rights-chief-says-idUSKCN1BA173.
“Nicolas Maduro Accused of Crimes against Humanity.” EurAsian Times, 22 Nov. 2017, eurasiantimes.com/nicolas-maduro/.
Rapoza, Kenneth. “In Venezuela, Early Elections, ‘Rigged’ Elections.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 28 Jan. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/kenrapoza/2018/01/28/in-venezuela-early-elections-rigged-elections/#732883384b6f.
Photo by Carlos Garcia Rawlins | Reuters, Creative Commons Zero license.