Venezuela turned into a superstar on the world stage when Hugo Chavez was running the country. Oil exports were producing a huge influx of cash, and Chavez was spending that cash on programs to help the poor. According to José Manuel González, the former President of Venezuela’s Chamber of Commerce, Chavez was a popular president that helped the country and hurt it at the same time. González is the current Deputy of the National Assembly for the state of Guárico, and a major figure in the country’s agricultural industry. He watched Chavez spend money and realized that he was spending too much on unnecessary upgrades that helped Chavez, and his inner circle of government leaders. The socialist leader put people will little experience in jobs they couldn’t handle.
One of those people was Vice-President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro, a former bus driver, and union leader got into politics and made an impression on Chavez. Chavez died in 2013, and the former bus driver took over as president. Mr. González recently said that day would go down as one of the saddest days in his country’s history. Maduro has turned the oil-rich nation into a food-starved, riot-filled nation with no money. Maduro has cut government worker’s hours, closed shopping malls, confiscated businesses, and farms and put the military in charge of distributing food. González said the farms in his state have not been producing food for months because the government is letting them sit dormant.
Mr. González also said the government is too important to be left to politicians like Maduro that lack experience and play dictator instead of leader. The food shortage is so bad that women are crossing the border into Colombia and getting food to bring back to their families. Kimberly-Clark recently closed their factory in Venezuela because there are no raw materials and no money. Citibank is closing the account of Venezuela’s central bank due to lack of funds. Maduro claims all of those issues are the product of imperialist conspiracy against his country.
There is a petition circulating in cities across the country to remove Maduro. González thinks there will be enough signatures to start the removal process, but nothing is certain in Venezuela these days.