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Vice President Mike Pence visited Bogotá, Colombia, Monday, Feb. 25 to meet with Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s interim president and discuss how to help the country, which is facing political unrest, poverty, and deaths at alarming rates.
In order to understand Venezuela’s crisis, it is necessary to go back to the 1990s, when the country was run by Hugo Chavez. Venezuela was facing a banking crisis, high inflation, and rising poverty. Chavez promised to fix the economy by making changes to the country’s oil industry. According to Ali Velshi on MSNBC, Chavez managed to make some beneficial changes to the country, but they were short lived because of the eventual falling oil prices. When Chavez passed away in 2013, Nicolas Maduro took over and the economy continued to collapse.
Many citizens started questioning Maduro’s powers as president as the country sunk further and further into debt. According to an article from “Forbes,” senior contributor Kennith Rapoza wrote that by 2019, Venezuela’s oil exports decreased two-thirds from 3 million barrels per day towards 1.2 barrels. In an effort to make things better, the Maduro administration kept raising taxes. At the end of 2018 Venezuela lost 99.9% of its dollar value. Most Venezuelans are going without jobs, food, and health care. Poverty is causing a high rate of crime and according to the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime, in 2016, over 56 percent of deaths in Venezuela are due to homicide. Citizens began to protest the state of the country last March. Between March and August, more than 280 people died or were killed in the protests.
In February, President Donald Trump sent humanitarian aid kits and food sources to Venezuela, but Maduro’s army rejected the offer and blocked the food and medical supplies. The National Assembly of Venezuela put Juan Guaidó in office Jan. 5 in hopes that Guaidó will finally be able to restore the country. Guaidó is supported by the United States, with President Trump criticizing Maduro’s job in a speech at Florida University in Miami. “You cannot hide from the choice that now confront you,” he said.“ You can choose to accept President Guaidó’s generous offer of amnesty, to live your life in peace with your families and your countrymen. President Guaidó does not seek retribution against you, and neither do we.”
Vice President Mike Pence met with Guaidó to continue discussions on how the new administration can restore peace and order to Venezuela.