Just earlier this week, a Russian Air Force jet arrived in Venezuela’s main airport in Caracas city. This has caught the watchful eye of many major countries as the Russian-Venezuelan relationship could pose a danger to democracies globally.
Venezuela’s state has been suffering since 2014, caused mainly by the rocky presidential transition from Hugo Chavez to Nicolas Maduro. Venezuelans are suffering from a political, economic, and social crisis of unprecedented extremes. Hyperinflation, limited access to medical supplies, food and water shortages, power outages, etc. paints just a piece of the picture that is the current state of Venezuela. Violence and hunger run rampant, and as the country continues to fail, Venezuelans have begun to look elsewhere in search of refuge.
According to the UN Refugee Agency and the UN Migration Agency, the number of refugees and migrants from Venezuela hit the 3.4 million mark this April and they have estimated that another two million people will leave before 2019 ends. At this pace, the Venezuelan situation is set to be the largest exodus in the history of Latin America. José Miguel Vivanco, director of Human Rights Watch in the Americas says, “This migration crisis has no comparison, no precedent, in contemporary Latin American history…we’re talking about thousands and, at this point, millions of Venezuelans who have been forced to leave their country.”
The magnitude of what’s going on in Venezuela has warranted surprising policies and governmental changes to be enacted. On January 23rd, 2019, Juan Guaido declared himself as interim president just two weeks after Maduro took his own oath to a second six-year term. His declaration serves as a massive move to delegitimize Maduro, which has garnered support from the U.S., Colombia, and other major democracies globally. However, this new leader with strong democratic ideals has worried allies like China and Russia who have invested in keeping Venezuela a federal state.
The landing of the air force plane poses a threat to the path of Venezuela regaining stability. Globally, democratic forces are working avidly to support Guaido as he faces relentless opposition. I believe that this plane landing serves as Russia showcasing their military power and the potential militia they could bring to Venezuela. In doing so, Russia is standing tall in the way of peace in Venezuela. With the support of major superpowers like Russia, Maduro could potentially regain power which would be devastating to the state of Venezuela.
According to a Russian newspaper ‘Moscow Times’, Russia owns two oilfields in Venezuela and has loaned 17 billion to Venezuela in previous loans. Russia also carries high motivation to oppose U.S. influence since they have historically had many disputes. The U.S. represents a global superpower and champion for democracy that Russia has sought in defeating. Russia stated they did not want any military conflict with regards to Venezuela, yet in March, Russia sent two air force planes to Caracas.
What was once Latin America’s most prosperous country is now in the worst political and economic situation in the region has seen in years. The rest of the world watches with a critical eye over Venezuelan relations, which inclines political leaders to make decisions that will garner support from other global superpowers. Russia has proved itself to be an antagonistic force that is looking to use Venezuela as a chess piece against democracies globally. The landing of the air force plane symbolizes Russia’s involvement in Venezuelan relations, to the extent of using their own military. This will only perpetuate the suffering of Venezuelans as they struggle for a marginal quality of life.
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