Venezuela, once the richest Latin American country with the largest oil reserves in the world is facing one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world. As per an Organization of American States report, the number of Venezuelan migrants and refugees is set to surpass total Syrian migration numbers by more than three million in 2020, further threatening regional and global stability. However, the dictatorial President, Nicolas Maduro is still unperturbed by the developments and is refusing to cede his position, despite not being recognized as a President by Venezuelans or the nations around the world.
Nearly 60 countries had recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s rightful head of state and it looked like Venezuela would finally have a breakthrough. But in the last one year, it has been proven that Guiado is simply a simpleton who lacks the spine to take on a dictator who is willing to roll in the mud, join hands with nefarious countries like China and do everything possible in the book to not lose his position.
In January, Guaido was a guest of honor at President Trump’s State of the Union Address and it seemed that the US would press the right keys to help Guaido but the COVID-19 pandemic meant that Washington had to put the Venezuela issue in the cold-storage.
The U.S-backed opposition in Venezuela has spent years trying to dislodge authoritarian President Nicolas Maduro. And so far nothing has worked. Instead, Maduro has consolidated power while the opposition appears to be growing weaker by the day.
The Venezuelan military has ignored Guaido’s calls to mutiny. Anti-government protests have petered out. Meanwhile, the opposition is split between moderates who favor negotiations and hard-liners who want military action to oust Maduro.
Maduro controls nearly every government institution except for the National Assembly, which is led by Juan Guaido. But now the opposition is talking about boycotting this year’s legislative elections because of fears of vote-rigging. If the opposition does boycott, Guaido will no longer be president of the legislature. Thereby dimming the already slender chances of upstaging a coup.
However, sensing support of the US to Guaido, China has amped up its aid to Maduro. Even amidst a global pandemic, Beijing has continued to provide the Nicolas Maduro regime with economic and political support.
It continues to recognize the legitimacy of his regime, and in October 2019 even helped Venezuela win a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.
With roughly $67 billion invested since 2007, China has become a main source of Venezuela’s external financing, and an important partner of its oil-based economy. According to Reuters, Last year, China replaced the United States as the No. 1 importer of oil from Venezuela, yet another front in the heated rivalry between Washington and Beijing.
In 2018, Nicolás Maduro traveled to the PRC to sign twenty-eight bilateral agreements with China and expressed public support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Additionally, China has provided the Maduro regime with technological assistance for surveillance and social control through the homeland card (“carnet de la patria” in Spanish). The homeland card, inspired by China’s national identity card program, is used by the Venezuelan regime to provide food and medicine to citizens, as well as to track voting and social media use.
China wants to hurt Washington in any capacity whatsoever, and therefore it was natural that Maduro would get the full backing of the red authoritarian regime. Moreover, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s support for Maduro reflects Beijing’s fear that a violation of sovereignty in Venezuela will lead to the international community’s meddling with Chinese internal affairs, specifically in relation to Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Consequently, China is going all out to keep Guiado out of the political power throne of Venezuela.
The South American country has vast oil reserves, yet the poverty rate has skyrocketed to more than 80 percent and even mere essentials such as meat and milk have become luxury commodities with exorbitant prices.
The crime rate is going up exponentially but the citizens are left to fend for themselves. The madmen President Maduro has come up with a daft idea like Plan Conejo or ‘Plan Rabbit’ to end hunger.
In his view, rabbits would be an excellent source of protein for the large number of people who don’t have regular access to chicken. Hungry Venezuelan children are literally forced to eat rabbits.
With sanctions, the US has put the Maduro government in the league of rogue states like Cuba, Syria, and North Korea. Today, Venezuela has got impoverished to the extent that it has to request Iran to lend a helping hand for restarting its gas pumps and ensuring that the nation with the world’s highest oil reserves does not run out of gasoline.
And despite being in such a tight spot, Guaido hasn’t been able to take on Maduro. It seems like the internationally recognized President has run out of steam and the US has placed its bets on the wrong man.
There are madmen like Nicholas Maduro who prop up every now and then, but it is the lack of a powerful opponent that has left Maduro to rule upon the poor masses unchecked and unperturbed.
Venezuela—a country in South America, having the world’s largest reserves of oil is the shining example of what socialism can do to a country. The wheel of socialism that was turned by Hugo Chavez in 1999 has thrown an entire generation into oblivion and destitution. If Guaido isn’t replaced by a more ruthless leader, then Venezuela, aided by China will continue to head towards the path of dystopia.