Venezuela is a major oil producer and exporter; and the 2014 crash in oil prices, combined with years of economic mismanagement, hit Venezuela’s economy hard (Nelson, 2018).
The political crisis in Venezuela is fundamentally underpinned by a severe economic crisis. In this regard, the Venezuelan economy has contracted by 35 per cent since 2013 — a much larger contraction than the Great Depression of the 1930s, which the U.S had experienced. The country is struggling with a massive degree of hyper-inflation of more than 1,000 per cent, which means that the value of the Venezuelan local currency is literally worthless.
This is in addition to a situation of famine; meaning, there is a shortage of food and medicine, compounded by overall deteriorating living conditions, with significant humanitarian consequences (Nelson, 2018). These are, in simple terms, consequences of an economic and political crisis; that is, when a country is characterised as having a shortage of food, deteriorated living conditions, high unemployment rates, and a massive emigration problem by its people.
As the Venezuelan crisis worsened over the years leading to this day, millions of its people have reportedly migrated to neighbouring countries such as Colombia, Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana.
Venezuela/Guyana Border Controversy (historic background)
The Guyana/Venezuela border controversy was, since 1962, created by Venezuela with respect to the validity of the “full and final” Arbitral Award. This matter is again before the World Court (ICJ) for another potentially final resolution. The question of whether Venezuela would respect the outcome thereof if it is not in their favour is another matter altogether. Will this lead, in the region, to another major war which is seemingly developing into a World War III? This is a ‘food for thought’ question.
A more detailed background of the historic sequence of events of the border controversy can be viewed here. https://guyanatimesgy.com/the-venezuelan-border-controversy/Implications of
Venezuelan crisis and the border issue and conclusions
As it relates to the Venezuela/Guyana border issue, it should be mentioned that, not too long after the no-confidence motion, the Minister of Foreign Affairs reported that the Venezuelans attempted to land a helicopter on Exxon’s ship.
These developments can have far-reaching, detrimental consequences for Guyana, and can even delay the production of oil. With Russia supporting the Venezuelans in the area of military support especially, and announcing plans to set up a military base in the Caribbean, there can be an imminent American/ Russian war in Guyana’s backyard. The sad reality of such an outcome is that no American or Russian people would be harmed, except for the military personnel, but it is the Caribbean people — Guyanese and Venezuelans — who would suffer.
Against this backdrop, with the judicial challenge to the no-confidence motion pending resolution, if that ruling turns out in a particular manner, then there may be a constitutional and political crisis, which would lead to an economic and social crisis, especially if fresh elections are not held within 90 days, as stipulated by the Constitution.
These events, if materialised, would inevitably weaken Guyana within these dimensions; and when that happens, Venezuela may very well seize the opportunity to aggressively continue to threaten Guyana with the use of military force. It is no coincidence that the last aggressive move in this regard was done on the very next day after the no-confidence vote. That was a strategic move by the Venezuelans, and if Guyana’s political climate becomes further weakened, the outcomes are going to be devastating. Therefore, the politicians need to do what is best for Guyana; and that is to have fresh elections in the next three months, if the CCJ ruling turns out in a particular manner.
Against this background, the increasingly deepening crisis in Venezuela is receiving global attention. Guyana is also closely monitoring the developments. In this respect, the Government and the political Opposition seem to have a united front on this issue, which is of course in the national interest of Guyana.
The Guyana Government reported that it is gravely concerned at the deepening of the political crisis in Venezuela. It has also taken the position of “firmly supporting the efforts to resolve the crisis through peaceful means and with full respect to human rights and the rule of law.” The Guyana Government went on to state that “it supports calls made at both regional and international levels for immediate dialogue involving all political and social actors, with a view to preservation of the democratic process and a return to normalcy”.