Ah yes, the "it's complicated, you wouldn't understand" excuse...spare me."Venezuela is facing a protracted political crisis. Images depicting its streets tell the tale: Student unrest coalesced into massive demonstrations around the country, triggering a violent crackdown on opposition leaders and protesters. The ensuing violence and destructive confrontations over the last several weeks have left at least 13 people dead and scores wounded, with casualties on both sides. Tensions remain high.
Headlines in the United States broadcast unchallenged narratives of widespread discontent with mounting economic woes and denounce the ensuing repression by an unpopular and discredited administration barely clinging to power. But the reality in Venezuela is far more complicated and nuanced than what the media and the U.S. government spin suggests.
For instance, it is difficult to say who is responsible for provoking the conflict. Despite the uncertainty over who is inciting the violence, the U.S. government and press largely condemn President Nicolas Maduro’s administration while framing the protests as popular revolution, in some cases tacitly or even overtly rooting for regime change.
America’s unfettered leverage
The United States’ disenchantment with Venezuelan politics in the last 15 years is no secret. The U.S. has a sordid history of exerting unfettered influence in Latin America. It has supported the ouster of democratically elected governments and backed strongmen whose policies advance U.S. economic and political interests, inflicting incalculable suffering on the most vulnerable citizens of those countries.
After being sworn into office in 1999, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died in office last year, instituted policies that have been a thorn in the side of successive U.S. administrations and posed a lasting challenge to Washington’s hegemony in the region. The U.S. has not taken kindly to that, providing funding for “democracy promotion” initiatives in the country through organizations that have historically destabilized left-leaning governments. The 2014 U.S. foreign operations budget includes at least $5 million for supporting opposition activities in Venezuela. Despite their lofty labels, these projects did little to enhance the popular political participation of Venezuela’s people. While the U.S. casts its condemnation of the government’s response as unswerving support for principles of democracy and freedom, its position runs contrary to the democratically expressed will of the Venezuelan people.
Venezuela faces serious economic challenges, and people are understandably concerned about scarcity and financial instability. Outrage about rampant crime cuts across all sectors of the country, and there are no easy solutions for Maduro or an opposition-led government. But a narrow focus on high inflation, crime and shortages of food and consumer goods masks the country’s unparalleled progress in poverty reduction.
Venezuela has the lowest income inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean. A detailed analysis by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) found that poverty in Venezuela dropped by almost 50 percent and extreme poverty declined by 70 percent since 2004.These gains reflect an increase in cash income only and do not include other benefits that measurably improve quality of life, including access to education and health care. Similar growth indicators from the U.N.’s 2013 Human Development Report and the World Bank suggest that the alarm over the imminent collapse of the Venezuelan economy is unsupported by objective data. "
The US should respect Venezuela’s democracy | Al Jazeera America