Political clashes and protest in Venezuela after Guaidó speech

Akriti Dhasmana, Contributing Writer

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The political standoff in Venezuela has escalated to unprecedented levels over the past week. Street protests headed by the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, broke out on Tuesday , causing 50 injures. The political tensions have been rife since January in the small South American nation already suffering from an economic crisis.

The clashes reached their pinnacle when thousands of pro-government as well as Guaidó’s supporters marched on Wednesday in the capital, Caracas.

This came a day after Guaidó made a passionate plea to his supporters and the military to mobilize and oust the current President, Nicolas Maduro. While Guaidó delivered a speech in Eastern Caracas, elaborate marches were carried out in Western Caracas with people holding banners boldly brandishing “Freedom” against the largely perceived authoritarian rule of the president. The military used tear gas on the protestors to bring the situation under control.

Later on the same day, in a defiant TV address made by Maduro, he declared that the opposition had failed in mobilizing the military against him in their attempt at a coup d’etat. This was in contrast to the claims of success made by Guaidó.

The political crisis is predicted to only intensify over the coming days given the polarity of the views on the legitimacy of Maduro’s presidency. The uprisings began in January 2019 quickly after the second inauguration of Maduro as the President.

This was due to the controversial presidential elections of 2018 which the opposition describe as fraudulent. Venezuelans rallied around the President of the National Assembly, Guaidó who declared himself as the Interim President on 23 January 2019 .

He quickly gained favor even in the International community with more than 50 countries along with the U.S. recognizing him as the Interim President of Venezuela.

Maduro’s only remaining major international supporters seem to be Iran, Turkey, Russia and China. In the light of the recent events, he has publicly condemned the international interference in the Venezuelan politics, even going so far as to directly accuse the U.S. of supporting Guaidó in staging the coup.

According to the United Nations Human Rights Office, at least 40 people have been killed since protests began in January and more than 700 people have been arrested, the highest recorded detentions in Venezuela in 20 years. This comes amidst a devastating economic crisis that has caused a rapid decline in the living standards and health quality.

A report by the United Nations says that more than 30 million Venezuelans are in urgent need of humanitarian aid and more than 3.7 million people remain malnourished. The hyperinflation has been caused by the mass shortages of resources within the country.

The grave humanitarian crisis arises due to a confluence of complex socio-political reasons. These include negligence on the part of the government concerning depleting natural resources including the oil reserves, the imposition of international sanctions by the countries exporting goods to Venezuela and the large scale emigration from Venezuela.

The recent political clashes between the opposition and the government, involving both the military and the civilian have only worsened the situation further within the country.