Thousands of Venezuelans marched in the capital city of Caracas calling for a referendum to oust President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro was elected as president when long time president Hugo Chavez passed away.
Since then allegations of mismanagement of the economy and a huge financial hit due to the crash in oil prices have sent the country into crisis mode.
Some of the actions taken by the Maduro government have further enraged the populace. Today when people converging on the capital reached the city limits they were met by police who refused to let the buses pass. The passengers, undeterred, walked. When too many busses came, the police gave up and allowed them to enter.
The demonstration was peaceful, but authorities sprayed the crowds with tear gas and used stun grenades. Twenty people were arrested.
Food shortages, ballooning crime and increasing oppression are three large areas of discontent. A man who arrived in Miami spoke with NBC News:
"We're hungry in Venezuela. We can't stand it anymore," said Antonio, 56. "We're dying because of criminality and shortages. We need just one thing: the recall referendum to fire Maduro."NBC News
Venezuela is currently a socialist country with price controls on many commodities. This has led to low prices for many foodstuffs, but cartels have purchased large amounts of food cheaply and taken it out of the country leaving many shelves bare of necessities. In an effort to stop the export of subsidized goods the Maduro government closed the border to Columbia which then left many people with no food to buy at any price.
There have been allegations that powerful people in the government have participated in the scheme to buy the subsidized food and sell it at a profit.
Currently the inflation rate for Venezuela is 181% and the general interest rate is 19%. Venezuela has the world’s largest known reserves of petroleum and normally sends its product to be refined and sold in the US, mostly through CitGo outlets.
To add to the food and money shortages of the ordinary people, criminal gangs are making the country increasingly dangerous. The UK government travel advisory warns their citizens to be vigilant and to stay away from the Columbian border, keeping a distance of at least 80 miles. The site warns that drug traffickers are active in the area and illegal armed groups are operating. The danger of kidnapping is high. It goes on to state that violent crime is common throughout the country, advises that travellers take out comprehensive medical insurance and to be prepared for unexpected power outages which may also cut off water supplies.
Venezuela is currently coping with an epidemic of Zika.
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