Nicolás Maduro Fast Facts. Venezuela’s Socialist leader, Nicolás Maduro, is pictured in Caracas on May 14th, 2017. © 2018 Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
For most people living in Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro was once a man they believed was a hero. He made his name as the leader of a revolution that overthrew an elected government in 1998 and then a year later established himself as leader of the country.
But his popularity has begun to plummet, as Venezuela’s economic collapse and a failed economic model have caused deep problems. That’s led people increasingly to question Maduro’s leadership and whether it’s time for another change.
The situation appears quite straightforward. Maduro and the government continue to deliver poverty-level wages and undrinkable water into working poor communities. On the other hand, the government’s ability to sell cheap oil keeps the government afloat. People have had to find new ways to support themselves.
But here’s what hasn’t gone according to this story.
The Venezuelan economy has been struggling for a number of years. The country’s government has made increasing amounts of money from its oil reserves but this income has been used to prop up the country’s currency, the bolívar, and to fund its oil-related petro projects. When the petro ends up in the hands of the government, it’s used to buy things like military hardware, so the price of the petro is effectively determined by what’s happening with the military-funded operations. This means that the country’s government earns money at the expense of its people, who are not paid at all.
On top of this is a combination of corruption and a lack of transparency from government agencies. In 2018, more than 40 percent of government officials didn’t appear on the annual public payroll, and for years officials took bribes and lived lavish lifestyles in official