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Struggling Venezuela Re-elects Maduro

Caracas, Venezuela —(Map)

Nicolás Maduro was re-elected as president of Venezuela on Sunday in an election that many people say was unfair. Mr. Maduro has kept control of the country as it goes through very tough times.

Most people were not surprised by the results of the election. Before the election Mr. Maduro got rid of many of the people who might run against him. He put some people in jail. Other people were told that they could not run.

Nicolás Maduro was re-elected president for six more years.
Nicolás Maduro was re-elected president for six more years.
(Source: Government of Venezuela, via Wikimedia Commons.)

Many of the other political parties  told their supporters not to vote at all. Less than half of the people who could vote actually did.

Still, Mr. Maduro won with 68 per cent of the vote. The US and many other countries have said that they do not believe the election was fair. These countries do not agree that Mr. Maduro should be the president of Venezuela.

Mr. Maduro came to power in 2013 and he has stayed in control, even as the country’s problems have gotten worse and worse. Mr. Maduro has changed the country’s laws so that now almost no one can go against him. The country’s army also supports Mr. Maduro.

Life has become much harder in Venezuela in recent years.
Life has become much harder in Venezuela in recent years.
(Source: By M M from Switzerland, via Wikimedia Commons.)

But life is hard for ordinary people in Venezuela. Hundreds of thousands of people have left Venezuela looking for a safer place to live. The people who have stayed are often hungry. And their money (called the “bolívar” in Venezuela) is worth less and less each day.

It’s normal for the prices of things to go up over time. This is called “inflation”. For example, in most places the cost of a meal or a car or a house is higher now than it was 20 years ago.

Because of Venezuela's hyperinflation, all of these large bills together are only worth about 11¢.
Because of Venezuela’s hyperinflation, all of these large bills together are only worth about 11¢.
(Source: ruurmo, via Flickr.)

But Venezuela has hyperinflation – prices are going up far more quickly than normal. Prices can change in a day or even an hour. The money is worth less and less, so people have to use more money to buy things.

Here is one way to think of it. If you wanted to buy one US dollar in Venezuela in 2016, it would have cost you about 600 bolívars. Now, that same dollar costs about 761,500 bolívars. Inflation is so high in Venezuela that many of the older bills are worth almost nothing.

The blue line shows how the cost of $1 has gone up in Venezuela.
The blue line shows how the cost of $1 has gone up in Venezuela.
This chart would need to be about 6 times taller to show the cost now, in May, 2018.
(Source: ZiaLater, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Because of the hyperinflation, people do not have enough money. Around 93% of the people in Venezuela say that they don’t have enough money to buy food.

Mr. Maduro found a way to use his people’s hunger to get their votes. He sent food to places where people signed up to vote. After people signed up, Mr. Maduro’s party gave the people food. The people working for Mr. Maduro told voters that Mr. Maduro would help them with food or medicine later if they had voted for him. In a speech, Mr. Maduro said, “I give, and you give.”

Mr. Maduro offered eggs to people who signed up to vote.
Mr. Maduro offered eggs to people who signed up to vote.
Many Venezuelans do not have enough money to buy food.
(Source: xolkanf, via Flickr.)

For now it looks like life will remain hard for most Venezuelan people. Mr. Maduro has kept control and will be president for at least six more years.

Caracas, Venezuela


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