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Political crisis in Venezuela

  May 26, 2020

Political crisis in Venezuela

Venezuela is engulfed in a political crisis with two rival politicians claiming to be the country's legitimate leader.

What is the background?

Venezuela has been governed for the past 20 years by a socialist party. For about 15 years till 2013, Hugo Chávez was president. He was succeeded by Nicolás Maduro, who narrowly defeated the opposition candidate in elections.

Why did its economy crash?

Due to global great recession and crude price crash, Venezuela's economy collapsed as it dependend predominantly on oil revenues for its budget; and shortages of food and medicines became widespread.

In 2018, Mr Maduro was re-elected to a second term in elections which have widely been dismissed as rigged. 

Was there largescale migration out of Venezuela?

Yes. Due to economic hardship and deteriorating security conditions. Neighboring Colombia and Peru are the largest recipients of Venezuelans, followed by the United States, Chile, Ecuador, and Spain.

Who is Guaido?

At the prospect of another six years of Maduro government and with the economy in freefall, the head of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, declared himself interim president in January 2019.

How can he claim to be a legitimate leader?

Mr Guaidó argues that Mr Maduro is a "usurper" and that the presidency is therefore vacant, in which case the constitution calls for the head of the National Assembly to step in.

What was the global response?

The US and more than 50 other countries have recognised Mr Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela but Mr Maduro's key allies, Russia and China, have stood by the latter.

The two sides have been locked in a stand-off with Mr Guaidó trying to gain support of the military, a key player in the country, to switch its allegiance.

US imposed sanctions on Maduro government and the situation is becoming worse.