On January 23rd Juan Guaidó, the leader of Venezuela’s national assembly, proclaimed himself the country’s acting president. He was cheered by tens of thousands of people protesting against the socialist regime of Nicolás Maduro, who started a second six-year presidential term on January 10th after winning a rigged election in 2018.
Under Mr Maduro, Venezuela’s descent into economic chaos and human misery has been staggering. Since 2013 GDP has nearly halved and inflation has rocketed to more than 1m percent. The sovereign bolívar, launched in August 2018, has already lost over 95% of its value against the dollar. Food and medicine have become scarce. Three-quarters of Venezuelans have lost an average of 8.7kg per person. Infant mortality has jumped by almost 10 percentage points. The misery has prompted 3m Venezuelans, a tenth of the country’s population, to flee, mostly to neighbouring states such as Colombia.
The governments of the United States, and those of many Latin American countries, have recognised Mr Guaidó as Venezuela’s interim leader. Other countries, such as China, Russia and Turkey, have come out in support of the incumbent. So, crucially, have the armed forces. It is their loyalty, not the backing of Venezuela’s impoverished, shrinking population, that keeps Mr Maduro going.
Juan Guaidó wins diplomatic recognition as Venezuela’s president (January 24th 2019)
How to hasten the demise of Venezuela’s dictatorship (January 24th 2019)
Nicolás Maduro digs in for another six-year term (January 10th 2019)
How Chávez and Maduro have impoverished Venezuela (April 6th 2017)
Venezuela and Zimbabwe: Spot the difference (April 2nd 2016)