It’s election day in Venezuela as the country decides who will be representatives in its parliament, the 277-seat National Assembly.
The election takes place against the backdrop of a decimated economy, food shortages, a once-thriving oil industry which now has minimal output and 5 million people have fled the country.
Add to that the standoff between Hugo Chavez’s successor, the socialist President Nicolas Maduro, the US-backed Juan Guaido, and the country being placed under blockade—the election takes on a particular significance.
Guaido has decided not to contest this election, claiming he has no faith in the legitimacy of the process.
Of particular concern to Venezuelans is their country’s hyperinflation, as well as food and medical supplies shortages. Living conditions are tough. Trinidad & Tobago has accommodated many Venezuelans seeking asylum.
The United Nations’ World Food Programme says 9.3 million people—a third of the population are food insecure and cannot meet their dietary needs, with 60 per cent of Venezuelans having to cut the size of their meals.
What is particularly worrisome is that many Venezuelans are now having to work for food rather than money. The IMF is of the view that Venezuela’s economy will contract by 25 per cent this year.
Venezuela’s food crisis has become a major highlight of today’s elections with it being used as a threat to encourage people to vote.
“For the ones that don’t vote, there is no food. Whoever does not vote, does not eat. A quarantine without food will be applied,” said Maduro’s ally, Diosdado Cabello.
Maduro is confident of victory saying, “I reiterate to the Venezuelan opposition, I accept the challenge if they win the parliamentary elections on December 6, I will leave. But if we win, let’s go ahead with the people to continue working and deepening the great transformations that the homeland requires.”