Venezuela is in the midst of a presidential crisis. Less than a year after President Nicolás Maduro won reelection, the head of the National Assembly (the legislative branch of government), Juan Guaidó, declared himself the leader of Venezuela. Guaidó claims that Maduro won in an election that wasn’t free or fair, and as such he is not a legitimate leader. According to the Venezuelan constitution, if the president is illegitimate, the head of the National Assembly becomes the temporary leader of the country.
Shortly after Guaidó announced his presidency, countries all over the world, including the U.S., have released statements calling him the legitimate leader of Venezuela. In a video statement Vice President Mike Pence called Maduro “a dictator with no legitimate claim to power." Maduro is the successor of charismatic socialist leader Hugo Chávez. The rise of Chávez coincided with an oil boom, which meant that the resource-rich country also became rich. Maduro was Chávez’ vice president, and after his death in 2013, he took office. But the less charismatic, and less lucky, new president could continue Venezuela’s good fortune — mainly under the pressure of economic sanctions. Under Maduro, Venezuela experienced an unprecedented economic collapse. The Venezuelan president was willing to use any tool for the purpose of clinging to power — imprisoning political opponent, suppressing protest with violence, and silencing journalists.
Now, even as international pressure mounts in favor of his political opponent, Maduro is still holding onto the presidency. Vice President Pence flew to Venezuela to meet with Guaidó and to announce to new sanctions in an attempt to force Maduro to resign. Meanwhile, Maduro has blocked humanitarian aid from the US to enter the country. Peaceful protests on the country’s border with Columbia, where trucks full of food and medicine are blocked by the Maduro-controlled national guard, have been suppressed with live ammo.
Political cartoonists all over the world — and in Venezuela — have been commenting on the ongoing humanitarian and political crisis with their art.
Cartoonists depicted the differences between the two presidents of Venezuela. Rayma Suprani, a Venezuelan cartoonist, used the images of Maduro and Guaidó to illustrate to different visions for the country — one with guns and another with bread.
Over the weekend, protesters flooded the Venezuela-Colombia border where humanitarian aid trucks full of medicine and food were blocked by Maduro’s national guard from entering the country.
The Trump administration has taken a bold stance against Maduro and in support of Guaidó. Some cartoonists have questioned whether the United States is in a position to criticize an election as illegitimate.
Others shed light on Trump’s inconsistency — love for some dictators such as North Korea’s Kim Jong-un while criticizing Maduro.
While the United States and some of its allies have recognized Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela, countries such as Russia and China — which have financial interests in Venezuelan oil — prefer to preserve the status quo with Maduro in power. For some cartoonists, the crisis in Venezuela is reminiscent of a Cold War-style proxy wars.
Given the bloody history of US intervention in Latin America, some are skeptical that the motives of the U.S. to support Guaidó are humanitarian. Cartoonists depicted Trump and the Republican Party as using Guaidó to gain control over Venezuela’s oil reserves.