Nicolás Maduro has been sworn into his second six-year term as president of Venezuela, a country that under his leadership has been plagued with humanitarian crises, economic collapse, hunger, violence, mass emigration, and political repression.
Over two-thirds of the votes cast were for Maduro. Notably, voter turnout was low, and the election itself was mired in reports of fraud, coercion, and electoral rigging. Many Venezuelans, along with the global community — including the country’s Latin American neighbors, as well as democracies abroad — saw his election in 2018 as illegitimate, including a former Supreme Court judge.
Earlier this week Christian Zerpa, the Supreme Court judge who had previously worked with Maduro to erode the country’s judicial institutions, fled to the United States with his family, fearing for their safety as he denounced Maduro’s reelection as a sham. “I think the president, Nicolás Maduro, does not deserve a second chance because the election he supposedly won was not a free election, was not a competitive election,” he told a reporter.
Nonetheless, Maduro’s administration declared a resounding victory. “We are convinced that the majority of the people who voted for the President in May are united today with loyalty and discipline to be with Nicolás Maduro for another six years,” said one of Maduro’s associates. His administration plans to rewrite the constitution over the course of his next term.
Horrific Living Conditions and Human Rights Violations
Citizens, meanwhile, have been starving. Grocery store shelves are bare and the inflation rate is projected to reach 10 million percent this year. Access to healthcare and medicine is limited, while prisoners and patients in psychiatric ward have all but been forgotten. The state of affairs is so bad that millions of Venezuelans are fleeing their homes to seek asylum in neighboring countries. Over three million citizens have fled since Maduro took office in 2014, and the Washington Post cited a study estimating that at least five million more people will escape to take refuge elsewhere.
Maduro’s administration has been responsible for countless human rights violations from the outset of his presidency; Maduro succeeded the socialist leader Hugo Chavez after his death to cancer in 2013. According to human rights reports cited by the New York Times, there have been dozens of cases of torture and hundreds of cases of mistreatment of political dissidents since he came to power in 2014. Tens of thousands of citizens connected to anti-government protests have also been arrested over the course of Maduro’s presidency.