The Daily Gamecock

Column: Venezuela needs international intervention

Venezuela, a country already crippled by problems, has plunged farther into despair due to the actions of President Nicolás Maduro. The chaos began when students took to the streets to peacefully protest Venezuela’s insanely high crime rate and soaring inflation rate.

However, instead of providing a platform for concerns to be voiced, Maduro has brutally retaliated with government security forces. At least three have been shot dead, in addition to a 17-year-old being struck and killed by a vehicle. The U.S. Department of State has joined the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights and other international groups in condemning the Venezuelan government’s actions as senseless violence.

In November 2013, Venezuela’s national assembly granted Maduro powers that allow him to pass laws without its approval. Under his presidency, Venezuela has spiraled into bedlam.

The inflation rate of Venezuela reached 56.2 percent in 2013, and the national currency, the bolivar, has lost nearly two-thirds of its value since its release in 2008. A black market for American dollars has spawned to combat the nearly worthless value of the bolivar.

However, even with dollars, Venezuelans are having trouble purchasing everyday necessities such as toilet paper, milk and bread, because the country relies heavily on imports.

This a consequence of Chávez’s previously enforcing limits on foreign exchange, with the intentions of avoiding capital flight and controlling the prices of food staples.

Contributing to the demise of the Venezuelan economy is the fear of criminal activity. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report ranked Venezuela the third-most violence-damaged economy. Additionally, the country suffers from one of the highest murder rates in the world.

This high crime rate has directly influenced companies to take their business elsewhere, and it keeps people at home at night instead of participating nighttime activities that are essential to a healthy economy, such as dining and shopping.

These have become the focal points of unrest, in addition to centralization of power and censoring media in Venezuela. Thousands of university students began a nonviolent protest Feb. 12, led by former presidential contender and Harvard graduate Leopoldo Lopez. Lopez has been one of the most vocal in calling for Maduro to step down.

Lopez has been quoted as saying, “The struggle against poverty, against drug smuggling, against irregular groups tearing into the fabric of our country … can’t wait six more years. It would be immoral to not do all we can right now.”

Maduro’s government is the transgressor, inciting violence left and right. Despite this fact, Maduro has labeled Lopez a political fugitive that incited the deadly violence raging through Venezuela. However, Lopez turned himself to face trial in an unfair trial system, in hopes of rallying people against the socialist government.

The international community must not allow the actions of Maduro to go unnoticed. Otherwise, more individuals similar to Maduro will abuse their power and oppress anyone who is willing to raise their voice in opposition.

The day that humanity is unwilling to stand up for their rights is the day freedom will die.