There are protests going on in Venezuela, largely led by middle class students, and the situation is unstable. Under current leftist President, Nicolas Maduro, the country has become divided. Here are five reasons why Americans should care about this country, whose former president Hugo Chavez died last spring.
1) At least 13 people have been killed in protests, including a former Venezuelan beauty queen.
Dispatches from the Caracas Chronicles are chilling and also describe reports of state-sponsored paramilitaries allegedly shooting and killing innocent people.
2) They are trying to censor the media. The government threatened to kick out journalists from CNN and one journalist reports she was harassed leaving Caracas. Under past President Chavez the government also shut down television and radio stations.
3) Venezuela is an oil rich country. The U.S. is its top export market. We know when oil is at stake that the U.S. may become involved and not usually for the right reasons.
4) The Venezuelan president has accused the U.S. government of trying to overthrow his government. In addition, an opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, has been jailed. The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said it is unacceptable for Venezuela to use “force and judicial intimidation against citizens and political figures.” The U.S. expelled Venezuelan diplomats in response to Venezuela doing the same to U.S. embassy staff.
5) The Internet has been blocked in parts of the country. It’s a fundamental violation of their freedom of speech and press.
It’s not clear when the unrest will end. But the U.S. can’t ignore it.