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Venezuela: A 61-Year Cycle?

Protests escalate quicker than inflation in Venezuela, which tells you something considering the number reached 10 million percent last year. January has been a tumultuous month for both the government and civilians. Nicolas Maduro took office once more after a bumpy re-election: it was postponed several times and even then, results were disproved by domestic parties and international groups. There are only nine countries who recognise the mandate and among those who do not, the EU, USA and Grupo Lima (a Latin American conglomerate that includes Argentina and Brazil) have all deemed his candidacy invalid due to corrupt means and practices.

The president of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó, declared himself the legitimate national president and on 13th January  2019 was abducted by forces associated with Maduro. Although he was soon released, the succession of events has not passed under the radar and Venezuela has since been under the scrutinising eye of the world media.

23rd January 2019 marked 61 years of the creation of the civic-military alliance, an extended political era that ended with Marcos Perez Jimenez’s dictatorship. On this day, history marked a breaking point in the political structure of the country, opening the space for more democratic practices. This year, the masses have congregated in the streets to engage in protests and demonstrations of aversion.

Since 2013, when Maduro’s first mandate begun, 50 000 protests took place in Venezuela. This one, however, is different: aside from the country’s increased isolation, there are three main reasons for believing the most recent protests are extraordinary. First, Juan Guadió embodies the new, politically-engaged generation who are striving to see the country implement a constitutionally-protected democracy. His party wants to unite the opposition to be able to overthrow the current government and create an alliance from which a transitional government can flourish. Second, the military, once aligned with the current government, has started to turn and show their discontent at the lack of democratic choices Maduro’s cabinet have been making. This is worth noting because divisions within the army have the potential to cause further instability in the current government. Lastly, inhabitants of low-income neighbourhoods, traditionally aligned with the government, have now joined in the protests with vigour. This is a clear representation of how the discontent is ingrained within the lower-middle social classes, a demographic that used to be a crucial support for the government’s cause.

Venezuela now stands at a pivotal moment in time. The path that the opposition wants to follow is under the guidance of democratic exercises; the international community is rejecting Maduro; and the civilians are becoming continuously more involved.

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