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Venezuela: basic food and medicines are missing. Protests are brutally suppressed

In Venezuela, once the richest state of South America, today, over 80% of people live below the poverty line. The situation has deteriorated considerably during the reign of President Nicholas Maduro. Money loses value, people lack basic food and medicines. While more and more emphatically calling for consequences for the regime that contributed to the crisis by its decisions, the silencing of critical voices and arrests of opposition leaders is intensifying.

President Nicolas Maduro on Sunday, June 30, despite the protests, called for a new Constituent Assembly to decide instead of the elected representatives of the Venezuelan parliament. During the first session, the Assembly agreed to withdraw one of Maduro's loudest oponents, the highest prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Diaz. At the beginning of August, two prominent opposition leaders, Voluntad Popular Leopoldo López, and Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, were detained without warning by their Venezuelan secret service without warning. Both were previously imprisoned for political reasons.

Massive anti-government demonstrations are stretched by force. The brutality of security forces' attacks against protesters is on the rise. So-called collectivos, state-sponsored armed gangs, commit offenders to a regime of violence that remains unpunished. According to local sources, some journalists and journalists were struck by tear gas and metallic shocks even though they were clearly labeled. Other journalists and journalists were threatened or confiscated.

Since April, more than 120 people have died in protests, hundreds have been injured, and thousands have been arrested.

People in Venezuela have good reasons to go out on the streets. According to a survey conducted by the three largest universities in Caracas, 82% of people lived in the country last year under the poverty line. Still in 2014 it was 48%. GDP per capita is 40% lower than in 2013. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world. Due to the economic crisis deepened by a series of ill-considered political decisions by Maduro's authoritarian regime, the country was in a particularly bad situation. The basket cost of basic foods containing eggs, milk, flour and fruit is four times higher than the minimum monthly wage today. Consumer prices grew 800% last year. Poor access to basic foods causes people to lose weight quickly and often find food in bins. They also have no money to buy basic hygiene needs. The country lacks the drugs necessary for people with multiple sclerosis, for people after transplantation, for HIV positive, for breast cancer patients and many others. A major problem is malnutrition in children.

President Nicolas Maduro rejects that the crisis in the country has been backed up by wrong political steps. His decision to address the lack of money by printing other banknotes led to an extraordinary rise in inflation, which is the highest in the world today.
Moreover, the Venezuelan opposition has a very narrow space to change the political situation in the country.

"There are no independent institutions in Venezuela today that could control executive power," says Sylva Horakova, Deputy Director of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy of People in Need. "Changing the situation from the bottom is also extremely difficult. In worsening economic conditions, demands for resolving the crisis are louder than ever before. But the response to the growing demand for political change in Venezuela is an increase in authoritarianism and the strengthening of repression. This leads to an unprecedented polarization of the country. If the problems continue to worsen, which is likely with rising inflation and silencing protest votes, there is a high risk of further escalation in the country. "

Andrés Cañizález, a political scientist at Andrés Bella Catholic University in Caracas, wrote in one of his comments on Venezuela: "Three important images will become a symbol of today's historical events in Venezuela. Firstly - the cruel repression committed by the armed forces. Second, the absence of any correction. Thirdly - the stubbornness of Nicholas Maduro, an obvious dictator, and his attempt to keep in charge at all costs. "

The space in which civil society in Venezuela can operate is constantly narrowing. In this critical situation, people in need will also support local initiatives and organizations to stay in the country and continue their work even under difficult conditions, whether they are activists working in poor neighborhoods, lawyers advocating imprisoned activists, or initiatives that help old People.

"Nicolas Maduro should give room for reforms and listen to the voices of civil society instead of silencing them. Otherwise, the crisis will only deepen, "
says Sylva Horáková. "Functioning citizens' initiatives, striving for dialogue and non-violent conflict resolution, trying to come up with a constructive solution to the crisis are a major force against the further division of society. It is they who continue to support People in Need. "

Source: tz ČvT
Photo: CVT Archive

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