Stretched across the roads from the outer walls of buildings sneaking under the trees and spilling across the sidewalks and streets till it reaches the corner formed by the opposing building and the ground, the crowd of people dressed in the primary colors of the Venezuelan flag and white tees appears as a single entity and perhaps the sole force as far as one can see. But its edge appears where the number of heads ends abruptly where at its periphery the an acidic smell permeates the air and the caustic sensation of the tear gas rolls over the young protesters. Several people across the expanse raise the flag above their heads as the call upon the government to make amendments to the current system which has slowly been deteriorating in the past couple of decades.
Previously Chavez had brought dramatic changes to the people of Venezuela, ushering in health care systems and educational opportunities for its citizens. The current authority in Venezuela, President Maduro, was elected after Chavez's death, a turning point in Venezuela which some academics say was the start of Venezuela's dependence on oil. It's no surprise that Venezuela's economy is currently suffering under the pressure of lower oil prices; so much so that medical supplies and food run scarce across the nation. Not only are some Venezuelans angered by the state of their economy, but they are also exasperated with four years of the repressive regime Maduro leads, sparking the protests and riots which have even led to a helicopter attack on the Supreme Court, a symbol of support for Maduro, and an opposition-led referendum calling for new elections and new judges.
It is difficult to describe the sentiment of Venezuelans as a whole, however, since the two sides of the crisis tend towards extremes leaving around 40% of people in the middle of the opposition and the government supporters. Many people are wary of the opposition whom they believe to be excessively violent towards a legitimate government while on the other hand opposition leaders describe the movement to be defensive when it comes to expressing aggression. Still others distrust the opposition despite its determination and intentions to ameliorate the climate in Venezuela out of fear of losing the gains from Chavez era and concern of the lack of planning.
Within the couple of months of protests, people have been driven out of the country, seeking asylum and refuge in neighboring countries and Caribbean islands, a reversal from previous years when Venezuela was welcoming refugees when its economy was buttressed by the strong oil industry. To the West, Columbia has offered 90 day permits in special border areas although sufficiency in those zones is limited, and the rising number of deportations threaten incoming groups. To the South, Brazil has accepted Venezuelans, yet, like other Latin American countries, it has implemented border policies that are ultimately obstacles for those entering the country: the two-year residency in Brazil for $96, a price too high for most asylum seekers. Further to the Southwest, Peru also has a new policy in response to Venezuelan migrations that provides them a visa for work or study. Not all situations have been accommodating, unfortunately: in the Caribbean, some Venezuelans are harassed by natives as they put pressure on the small populations.
The turmoil has drawn the United States into the midst as President Donald Trump has outwardly opposed Maduro's plan--which would create a new Assembly that could dissolve the state government institutions and could rewrite the constitution--through discussions of sanctions on Venezuela's oil sector. In the opposition-led referendum, voters largely opposed Maduro's plan although the Venezuelan president has denounced the vote as fraudulent and "meaningless". As important as would be for the United States to stand firmly against the dictator government, the sanctions will not improve the situation regardless of whether or not it produces economic stresses. How much more could the already weak oil industry suffer? Even if it were "effective", what improvements would Venezuelans see during a period of food shortages? How would the Venezuelans perceive the sanctions? The latter is a particular issue when the government has accused the opposition to be U.S puppets and accused the Supreme Court attack to be orchestrated by the U.S government.