Venezuela is a country in the middle of a never-ending political and economic crisis with two rival politicians claiming to be the country’s legitimate leader. Venezuela has been governed for the past 20 years by the socialist PSUV party. From 1999 to his death in 2013, Hugo Chavez was president. He was succeeded by his right-hand man, Nicolas Maduro. In these two decades, the government has gained control over the judiciary, the electoral council and the Supreme Court. Maduro was re-elected to a second six-year term in May 2018 in highly controversial elections, which most opposition parties boycotted. The opposition parties argued that the poll was neither free nor fair which in reality was the sad truth. Nicolas Maduro’s election was not recognized by Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly.

The country’s constitution in such cases calls for the leader of the national assembly to take control which at that time was Juan Guaidó. The political crisis escalated to an all-time high when Juan Guaido declared himself as the president on 23 January 2019. He is currently supported by nearly 60 other countries including the US. Maduro’s regime is supported by nearly 20 countries which include the likes of China and Russia. The countries supporting Maduro are mostly communist and fake democracies. Maduro condemned Guaidó as a ploy by the US to oust him. Currently, Nicolas Maduro doesn’t plan to step down from the position of president, after all, he has the backing of the military. Despite his broad international support, Guaidó does not wield much power in political terms. The National Assembly was rendered powerless by the establishment of the National Constituent Assembly in 2017, which is exclusively made up of government loyalists. Overall the regime in Venezuela can be compared to the Soviet Union under Joseph Stalin i.e. oppressive, communist and autocratic.

Anti and pro-Maduro protests are very common in the country especially in Caracas, the capital. The protests frequently lead to violent conduct from both factions. The 2017 anti-Maduro protests lead to the death of nearly 165 peaceful protesters and more than 15000 suffered serious injuries. The real toll is expected to be much higher as the Maduro regime has strict control over information flowing in and out of the country. The UN released a report in 2019 claiming that the rule of law in Venezuela has been ‘eroded’ after it found that nearly 7,000 people had been killed in 18 months by state forces. According to the report in 2018 alone, the Venezuelan government registered 5,287 killings which they classified as resulting due to ‘resistance to authority’ being shown by those who were killed.

The situation has made Venezuela a heaven for organized crimes such as drug trafficking and contract killing. In March of 2020, the US charged Venezuela’s President, Nicolas Maduro, and other senior officials in the country with “narco-terrorism”. A $15m (£12.5m) reward is being offered for information leading to Maduro’s arrest. Maduro deserves the same treatment as an international criminal and an offender of international human rights.    

The Venezuelans deserve a transparent, responsible, representative government that serves the needs of the people and that does not engage in illicit narcotics trafficking which is not going to happen under Maduro. To solve the political crisis Maduro needs to step down from the role of the president and must submit himself to the judicial system so that justice can be provided to the Venezuelans. Otherwise, he needs to be ready for the treatment similar to what was given to Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.