Wrong to interfere in Venezuela

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends an event with supporters in Caracas, Venezuela, October 20, 2018.
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro attends an event with supporters in Caracas, Venezuela, October 20, 2018.
Image: Miraflores Palace/Handout via REUTERS

There is no doubt that Venezuela is a troubled country. The economy has been in a mess for several years, with inflation shooting up to record levels.

As a result, scores of people have been leaving the Latin American state to seek refuge in neighbouring countries despite it being one of the richest nations in the region.

The past few elections were marred by mass protests organised by the opposition, which alleged vote rigging on the part of President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.

At the heart of the instability are disagreements over how the economy in this oil-rich country is run. The Chavez-Maduro administrations nationalised the country's oil industry and adopted a number of policies that were seen to be anti-big business. As a result, they often found themselves in direct conflict with Western governments.

The latest political crisis in Venezuela, which has been sparked by opposition leader Juan Guaidó declaring himself the country's president without actually winning an election, has to be seen in this context.

The US and a number of right-wing governments and countries such as Brazil have also come out to recognise Guaidó as head of state despite the fact that his actions amount to a coup.

No matter what we may think of the Maduro government's economic policies, as well as the quality of democratic processes in that country, an illegal and unconstitutional change of government is something that should not be supported and encouraged.

The people of Venezuela should be allowed to resolve their problems without powerful countries in the northern hemisphere dictating who should govern them. Just like Africa, the Latin American region was on the receiving end of illegal interference and destabilisation by Western governments during the Cold War period that lasted from the late 1950s to the 1990s.

On both continents, this interference stunted the development of many countries and condemned millions of people to poverty. In this century, such a situation should not be allowed to persist. Let the Venezuelans choose their own government through the ballot box.