The Venezuelan economy and government has been unstable for the better part of a decade, but with the annual Summit of the Americas in Panama close at hand, civil rights organizations and international governments have been honing in on a situation that has put thousands, if not millions, of Venezuelan citizens in danger.
What’s the problem? Human rights violations have been ongoing for years but have just recently gained the media’s attention thanks to the increasingly strict rule of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
Maduro has explicitly stated that Venezuela suspects the U.S. of supporting coups within the country in the wake of Venezuela’s major economic downfall. A recent U.S. economic sanction against Venezuela — sanctions which, Business Insider states, were rejected by most Latin American countries — likely hasn’t helped.
U.S. News explains that Maduro was the “handpicked successor of former President Hugo Chavez,” but that the country’s economy has continued to slump over the past 14 years of Maduro’s control.
The list of human rights violations of which Maduro’s administration is accused is so long that many have wondered how such offenses could go unchecked for 14 years.
Relations with Colombia, which shares a border with Venezuela, have been incredibly violent for years; cross-border drug trafficking has caused countless civilian casualties, especially after Madura deployed 17,000 troops to the border last August to curb the inflow of drugs.
Additionally, due to the country’s failing economy, many Venezuelan women have been forced to work in the sex industry, and because prostitution is not illegal in Colombia, these women are able to cross the border and make some quick money in nearby towns.
Although a recent Fusion article on this problem implies that sex trafficking is not a major issue in the Venezuelan-Colombian prostitution industry, Maduro’s government has responded with nothing but brute violence, arresting any women who appear to be making money by selling sex. With very little concern for the health of these young women — many of whom are between the fertile ages of 20 and 24 and are most likely to become pregnant — the overall health of Venezuelan citizens (particularly women) has never been in a worse place.
A survey conducted in March reportedly shows that 41% of Venezuelans support Maduro’s government, but as Business Insider has stated, another round of elections is about to begin in Venezuela, and it’s very likely that a new round of violence and police crackdowns will begin appearing as Maduro goes on the defensive.
As far as Venezuela’s civil rights violations, it’s going to take more than an unpopular U.S. sanction to ameliorate the deteriorating system.