What's Happening in Venezuela?
On January 23rd, following massive protests of President Nicolás Maduro in the streets of Caracas, Venezuela, national assembly speaker Juan Guaidó swore himself in as interim president. Shortly afterwards, the US recognized Guaidó, followed by all other nations in the world with the exception of Russia, Iran, Mexico, Bolivia, Uruguay and Cuba. China said it would remain neutral.
Maduro claims that, "The imperial government of the United States is leading a coup attempt against [Venezuela] in order to install a puppet presidency." Abby Martin, whose 'Empire Files' show on teleSUR was until recently financed by the Maduros' regime has claimed that Venezuela's humanitarian crisis was manufactured by the local elite colluding with the US with economic sanctions. Über-conspiracy oracle Ben Fulford recently wrote, "The cabal are now fighting desperately to stay in power by stealing the oil reserves of Venezuela, because they are doomed if they lose control of the financial system and thus their ability to hire protection."
Everyday people are right to be concerned about US interventionalism in Venezuela, given the horrible history of US meddling in Latin America and with oil-rich countries around the world. It's not out of the realm of possibility that what's occurring in Venezuela is a massive asset-stripping event by both sides, in a scramble to control the world's largest underground oil reserves through economic warfare.
Everybody has a political axe to grind about what's happening in Venezuela and the escalation of events has led to strange bedfellows, with the Hillary cheering squad of the Fake News media suddenly in agreement with Trump's State Department but for the vast majority of people who have to live in South America with Venezuela as their neighbor, it is widely agreed that the string of bad decisions that have culminated in this chaos were made by Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro and that attempts to assign blame elsewhere are just not true.
To settle what she sees as a lot of disinformation swirling around out there, Venezuelan-American comedian Joanna Hausmann made this video. Hausmann has a popular YouTube channel with funny clips about South American culture and she apologizes that this one isn't particularly funny. As a Venezuelan citizen whose journalist uncle was imprisoned in 2016 for reporting on an anti-government protest, she wants to explain what's happening, as she sees it:
What is happening in Venezuela is not a US-backed coup.
This is not a fight between the Venezuelan Right Wing and the Venezuelan Left Wing. This is a fight of the great majority of Venezuelans to democratically get rid of an illegitimate and punitive dictatorship, a dictatorship responsible for countless human rights abuses.
The people of Venezuela are seeking fair, democratic elections, using the laws written in our Constitution.
Juan Guaidó did not just "declare" himself President out of nowhere.
Hausmann says, "Interim President Juan Guaidó is not a right-wing politician but a Liberal representative in Congress. Guaidó was elected by the Venezuelan people to be a representative in Venezuela's national assembly. He is acting as Interim President – as in, temporary president – until democratic elections can be ensured, as dictated by law when a president is deemed illegitimate. In other words, this is not a coup.
"Why is President Nicolas Maduro illegitimate? In 2017, the Supreme Court that was handpicked by Nicolas Maduro's party nullified and stripped the National Assembly or Congress of their powers. The National Assembly was chosen by vote and was the only government institution that was run by an opposition majority.
"Imagine, when the Democrats took the house, if Trump was like, 'No, I don't like this anymore. The house is no longer a legitimate part of government and here's another house that I made up with everyone that agrees with me'? Americans would be furious! So, too are Venezuelans!
"Venezuela erupted in protest. Hundreds of protesters, most of them teenagers were detained, some of whom were tortured and murdered. Meanwhile, despite these protests, Maduro made his own Congress that he could control, just like that.
"Fast-forward to May 20th 2018, where this illegitimate Congress calls for presidential elections. Now, during these elections, the most popular opposition candidates are either jailed, exiled or banned from running. In other words, there is no legitimate way for the opposition to run. So, these sham presidential elections are held anyway by Maduro's government, where only 20% of the population voted. However, a lot of the 20% were public employees, who were intimidated into voting by threats from the government.
"These were called illegitimate elections, not just by the Venezuelan people but by the international community. Everyone was on board, saying, 'Yeah, this shit's f*cked-up – and if it's anything, it's definitely undemocratic. Now, if you're wondering how the Venezuelan people truly feel about this, here are some statistics, according to recent polls: Over 80% of Venezuelans disapprove of Maduro's government because there is a lot to disapprove of.
"Maduro took the minimum wage from $350 a month to $7 a month. Meanwhile, inflation hit 1.7 million percent in 2018, with the IMF projecting 10 million percent in 2019. So, the daily minimum wage can't buy two eggs. According to UN projections, over 5,000,000 people have left the country causing a refugee crisis of Syrian proportions. That's more than 10% of the Venezuelan population.
"There is such a shortage of medical supplies, that people are dying from previously eradicated diseases, like polio, because there aren't any vaccines. The economy is a disaster, in a country that sits on the world's largest oil reserves.
"So, where's all this money going? People in Maduro's government. Venezuela is the top 10 most corrupt country in the world, according to the Corruptions Perception Index.
"The media in Venezuela, who should be reporting on this sh*t is censored and dissidents are jailed. Over 5,000 people since 2014 have been detained for speaking out against the government and just since last week, when Guaidó was elected, 791 people have been jailed.
"So, what is happening now? Interim president, Juan Guaidó has been backed by the international community. Yes, this includes the United States but do you know who else backs Guaidó that isn't Trump? Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany, the Socialist Party that runs Albania, Canada's progressive Prince, Justin Trudeau, Australia, Paraguay, the government run by the Socialist Party of Spain, whose president said, 'What is going on in Venezuela is the opposite of Socialism.'
"The list goes on. So, that was a lot of information and I am exhausted – and I'm not exhausted because I had to explain this to you. I'm exhausted because the situation in Venezuela has been talked about in the forms of political ideologies and politicians and political leanings – and the conversation has completely strayed away from what actually matters, which is the Venezuelan people.
"On a personal level, my immediate family – my father is exiled from back home. My extended family, they go out on these protests. My uncle is in jail for being a journalist that tried to shed light on what was going on. My cousin had to leave Venezuela because they were after him, as well.
"This has affected everybody on a human level and it doesn't matter what leanings you have, from an ideological, political standpoint. This is about people. This is about people wanting their country back.
"That's it and if you have any more questions, ask a Venezuelan and they can tell you from their personal human level how it's affected them. Please listen."
Running Time: 5 mins