Venezuela in crisis: Seven stories to get up-to-date

Nearly a month after opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself president, Venezuela plunges deeper into crisis.

An opposition demonstrator waves a Venezuelan national flag, during a protest against the government of President Maduro [Federico Parra/AFP]

Nearly a month has passed since the United States-backed Venezuelan opposition leader, Juan Guaido, declared himself interim president in front of a crowd of his supporters. 

In turn, President Nicolas Maduro accused Guaido and the US of staging a coup. 

Since then, the US has upped its pressure, slapping sanctions on Venezuelan state-owned oil company PDVSA and the officials who back Maduro. 

Denying that a humanitarian crisis is taking place in the country, Maduro has refused to allow aid sent by the US, letting it stockpile at the Colombia-Venezuela border.


As the political crisis deepens, here are seven stories and programmes to get you up-to-date: 

1. Venezuela: A simple guide to understanding the current crisis

From May 2018’s contested election to why having the Venezuelan military’s backing is so important, Al Jazeera’s Elizabeth Melimopoulos breaks down the key points to the crisis in this simple explainer.

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2. Venezuela: ‘Guaido and Maduro aren’t going to feed my children’

Inside Venezuela, many are focussed on getting enough money for food on their tables. A day after Guaido declared himself interim president, Al Jazeera’s Erika Fiorucci caught up with Venezuelans waiting outside a bank in Caracas, hoping to cash their pension cheques. 

A woman walks past a graffiti depicting late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (R), President Nicolas Maduro and a legend reading 'down with Trump' in Caracas [Yuri Cortez/AFP] 
A woman walks past a graffiti depicting late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez (R), President Nicolas Maduro and a legend reading ‘down with Trump’ in Caracas [Yuri Cortez/AFP] 

Waiting in the line were both Maduro and opposition supporters, as well as many who just wanted the crisis to end.

“I don’t care if the president is Maduro or Guaido,” one woman told Al Jazeera.

“I just know that with the money the bank will give me today, I will only be able to buy a kilo of cheese and another of rice, half of what I would have bought last week.”

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3. ‘They have no medicine or food’: Venezuela’s healthcare crisis

As the crisis deepens, medicine shortages are harming the country’s hospitals.

Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo visited a hospital in Barcelona, Venezuela where at least 14 children died in one week following an outbreak of amoebiasis, a form of dysentery transmitted by contaminated food or water. 

“Three years ago, we stopped receiving gauze and alcohol. There are not enough syringes or serums to hydrate the children,” hospital worker Jose Planes told Al Jazeera.

Marleea Marino lost her two-month-old baby that week as a result of the outbreak; his body remains in the hospital because she has failed to collect the money for a coffin. 


“There is nothing here, they have no medicine, they don’t have food,” she said. “And now my son is dead.”

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4. As more Venezuelans flee, the crisis pushes deeper into Colombia

On the Colombia-Venezuela border, rights groups say more and more Venezuelans are crossing into Colombia.   

Aid groups in Cucuta documented a surge in the number of Venezuelans crossing into Colombia in January.

Although it’s hard to pinpoint the exact cause, rights groups worried as the humanitarian crisis zone, which was once largely confined to the border, crept inland, putting pressure on already strapped resources in the country.

Marta Duke sits with women and children she shelters in her living room [Dylan Baddour/Al Jazeera]
Marta Duke sits with women and children she shelters in her living room [Dylan Baddour/Al Jazeera]

Dylan Baddour spoke to Marta Duke, who has opened her home up to Venezuelans who are making the trek inland. She said dozens of Venezuelans sleep in her home each night. 

“In the new year, the quantity has exploded,” Duke said. “I’m worried.”

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5. Juan Guaido: Nobody is going to take a risk for Maduro

Earlier this month, Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman sat down with Guaido, who said he will do everything in his power to overcome the crisis.

“Governability, stability, the lowest social impact possible, attend to the current humanitarian emergency, reactivate the economy to create jobs for citizens and steer Venezuela towards democracy,” Guaido said.

Guaido refused to rule out backing a possible US military intervention in the country. “We will do everything possible, everything there is to achieve freedom in Venezuela.”

6. Maduro says US making ‘mistakes’ in Venezuela

Al Jazeera also spoke to Maduro, who accused the US of trying to destabilise his country. 

Maduro said that his government should have control over its borders and imports.

“Any material that comes from outside the country must be subject to certain conditions such as inspection and taxes as in all countries, whether by air, sea or land, and then there will be no problems,” Maduro said.

“The theatrical presentation they are attempting on February 23 will not happen,” he added, referring to the date that Guaido set to lead aid into the country.

7. The Big Picture: The Battle for Venezuela

The current situation in Venezuela stems from years of crisis, and as this The Big Picture episode from February 2018 points out, the seeds of the country’s current demise were planted a century ago.

Opinions: Venezuela’s slow coup continues | Venezuela does not need another charismatic strongman

Also check out these two opinions:

George Ciccariello-Maher argues that Guaido’s base is not the Venezuelan people, but foreign right-wing governments.

And Maryhen Jimenez Morales argues that Venezuela does not need another charismatic strongman, rather strong institutions and the rule of law.

Source: Al Jazeera