Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won another six years of term on May 20, 2018 in an election that has been called as a sham by the opposition and other countries including the United States.
According to the electoral authorities, Maduro won 68 percent of the votes cast, while his closest contender- former governor of Lara State Henri Falcon won 21 per cent of the votes and Javier Bertucci won 11 per cent of the votes.
Falcon dismissed the election, calling it illegitimate and accused the administration of vote buying, intimidation and other dirty tricks.
The vote came amid opposition calls for a boycott. According to the election commission, the final turnout was projected to be 48 per cent -well below the average for recent Venezuelan elections. When Maduro had first won office in 2013, there was an 80 per cent voter turnout.
A win despite massive opposition!
• Maduro managed to grab a victory from the largely controversial elections, despite there being a huge wave of dissent against him among the public.
• The president’s victory was sealed with the mostly empty polling stations across the country. However, the voting booths in government strongholds remained open even hours after their scheduled closing time.
• While Maduro’s administration attempted to get people to come to vote, the opposition was largely sitting out the race, as according to them participating in the elections meant giving validation to the fraud elections.
• Madura had first called for the snap elections in January 2018. The move was criticized by the opposition as illegitimate and unfair, given that it came at a time when many of his main rivals were jailed, sidelined or exiled.
• The Venezuelan Diaspora held anti-government rallies in dozens of cities around the world on May 20.
Venezuela’s deepening economic crisis
• The crisis in the Latin American nation stems from wide-scale corruption and severe mismanagement.
• Oil sales are 50% of Venezuela’s gross domestic product and 95% of its export revenue.
• However, despite having the largest oil reserves in the world, the nation has been hardly making any money in the market.
• The oil production in the nation fell by almost 800,000 barrels a day over the past two years, from 2.3 million in January 2016 to 1.5 million in April and the number is expected to decline further over the next year. The number of operating oil rigs has also fallen by half in just the past five years.
• The declining price of oil from nearly $120 a barrel in 2014 to around $25 a barrel in 2017 forced Maduro’s government to draw upon other sources of revenue to pay the dues.
• In addition to sending much of its own oil to other countries in return for earlier cash payments, Venezuela has been largely unable to modernize or even maintain its oil industry.
• With increasing sanctions on the nation by the US and other nations, several private companies decided to exit the country further worsening the nation’s growth.
• Despite this, the country’s spending has not decreased, resulting in skyrocketing inflation, which has led many Venezuelans to struggle to afford food and medicine.
• The crisis has affected the average life of Venezuelans on various levels including large-scale unemployment, political corruption, scarcity of basic products, closure of companies, deterioration of productivity and competitiveness and high dependence on oil.
• According to a study published in 2018 by three Venezuelan universities, almost 90% of the Venezuelan population now lives in poverty.