Venezuela is a country in South America. Once upon a time, it was rich because it had a lot of oil to sell. Today, Venezuela is very poor and many people there are starving. What happened to change this country?
A Nation Is Born
The area was once part of the Spanish Empire. In the 1800s, the French leader Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Spain, and then the people of Venezuela declared independence. After they beat the Spanish, Venezuela joined the Republic of Gran Columbia. This was a group covered a lot of South and Central America. Eventually, Venezuela left that group as well and became its own country.
The Rise and Fall
Venezuela was controlled by the military for most of its history. After a lot of fighting, the country set up a government with a constitution and an elected body called the National Assembly.
Under military control, Venezuela was rich. It had good farming, a good education system, and it started selling oil to other countries. Eventually, Venezuela became the world’s biggest source of oil. After the military lost power, the government lost a lot of that business. Hugo Chavez became president in 1998. His government took over a lot of businesses. He made it illegal to speak out against the government.
Life in Venezuela
Nicolas Maduro took over as the president of Venezuela in 2013, and the country fell apart even more. Today, many Venezuelans are very poor and don’t have jobs or food. Life is so bad there that the average person lost about 20 pounds of weight in 2018. People have been forced to eat trash and random animals like dogs and pigeons.
An Enemy of the US?
Both Barack Obama and Donald Trump have spoken out against Maduro. In 2019, Maduro said that Venezuela wouldn’t do any business with the U.S. anymore, after President Trump called another man (Juan Guaido) the true president of Venezuela instead of Maduro. Americans were kicked out of the country.
The U.S. government will work with Venezuela to help the people, but only if Maduro sets up an election by March 2021 and then leaves politics. Things got more complicated after Maduro accused the U.S. and Colombia of trying to overthrow him. We don’t know what will happen next, so we’ll just have to wait and see.