The Venezuelan Crisis
This year the Security Council aims to resolve the issue of the Venezuelan Crisis. The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a country located on the Northern coast of South America, where the current crisis has been ongoing since 2012.The crisis is socioeconomic in nature, leading to political and social unrest, and is the worst in Venezuela’s history. It is not to be confused with previous crises the state has seen.
Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela from 1999, built an economy which was reliant on oil products, and increases in oil prices in the early 2000s contributed to inflation in these years. By the early 2010s, economic actions performed by Chavez’s government during the preceding decade, such as overspending and price controls, proved to be unsustainable. Chavez was succeeded by Nicholás Maduro upon his death in 2013. There has been debate over whether the crisis was made worse by the change in political leadership, or whether the worsening of the crisis was inevitable.
The crisis has had a hugely negative effect on Venezuela’s economy, notably affecting unemployment, which was estimated at 18.1 percent as of January 2016. Inflation and debt have also risen to alarming rates, as consumer prices in Venezuela jumped to 741% in February 2017. This has also impacted housing, business and industry. At the end of Chávez’s presidency in 2013, the number of Venezuelans in inadequate housing grew to 3 million.
Socially, the crisis has led to widespread emigration from the country, rapid escalation of crime and concerns in public health. A UPI report in 2016 showed that Venezuela’s Living Conditions Survey found nearly 75 percent of the population had lost an average of 19 pounds that year due to lack of proper nutrition amid the crisis. According to the New York Times, an estimated 150,000 Venezuelans emigrated from the country in 2016, making it “the highest in more than a decade, according to scholars studying the exodus”.
These factors combined have led to widespread protests since 2014 and have been accompanied by political instability, corruption, and harsh government crackdowns on protestors, leading to what multiple neighbouring South American states have called “a profound human rights and humanitarian crisis” at the UN Human Rights Council. The Venezuelan government has been described as “growing in authoritarianism” by the Financial Times.
Response of the UN
In May 2017, the UN Security Council turned its attention to the Venezuelan Crisis for the first time, after the United States warned of the consequences of “serious instability” in the country. In August 2017 President Trump said that he is “not going to rule out a military option” to confront the autocratic government of Nicolás Maduro and the deepening crisis in Venezuela. Venezuela’s Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino immediately criticized Trump’s statement as “an act of supreme extremism” and “an act of madness.” The Venezuelan Crisis was also addressed by the Human Rights Council in October 2017, and an investigation into possible crimes against humanity was called.
The UN is yet to pass a resolution regarding the issue.
As the situation in Venezuela is ongoing, it is recommended that delegates keep up to date with news surrounding Venezuela. News outlets such as The Guardian and the BBC post regular updates, as well as a timeline of events thus far.