What’s happening?

Venezuela, now a dictatorship, is one step away from a full-on humanitarian crisis. 82% of households live in poverty. Shortages of food, medicines and other products reach 87%. This is already causing the death of the most vulnerable: newborn babies, children, the elderly and people with diseases like cancer, AIDS, diabetes and heart conditions.

The few products that are available are unaffordable. Venezuela has the highest inflation in the world. 2016 closed with a rate of 800%, which is expected to double by the end of 2017. A steep devaluation of the Venezuelan currency and rising unemployment have made the situation worse.

Venezuela has one of the highest homicide rates in the world. During 2016 there were 28,479 homicides. That is an average of 78 murders per day. Human rights organisations report that less than 10% of these crimes lead to convictions.

The government headed by Nicolás Maduro is not respecting the will of the people. It is acting against democracy, human rights, the constitution and international law. In December 2015 the opposition gained a 2/3 control of the National Assembly. Yet, the President and his allies in the Supreme Court have disregarded all laws approved by the legislative body. Maduro has now called for a National Constituent Assembly that will be packed by government supporters and will re-write the Constitution. This is illegal.

Peaceful protest is being met with violent repression. Dozens of protesters have died, hundreds have been assaulted, hundreds more have been arrested and, in another violation of Venezuela’s Constitution, they have been taken to military tribunals and prisons. There are dozens of political prisoners behind bars and the scarce independent media still operating in the country is constantly pressured.

Will the situation get better?

Probably not. A presidential recall referendum was obstructed by the government. Local and regional elections were cancelled. The government proved its call for dialogue with the opposition was insincere. Efforts within the Organization for American States led to Venezuela withdrawing from the OAS.

Meanwhile, there has been no reversal of the insane economic policies that have led to the country’s collapse. There are no official channels open to send humanitarian aid to Venezuela. And the scarce food that the government does hand out to citizens at subsidised prices only reaches those that expressly support the regime.

What can you do?

The international community can help by pressuring the government of Venezuela to respect democracy and human rights.

If you are in the United Kingdom, please write to your MP and ask for the British government to prohibit Venezuelan officials involved in human rights abuses to own assets in – or travel to – the UK.

Contact the BP energy company and ask it to stop doing business with PDVSA and CITGO, the government-controlled oil companies of Venezuela.

Contact the leadership of the Labour Party and ask it to engage with its allies in the Venezuelan government and demand that human rights and democracy are respected in Venezuela.

Contact Unite the Union and ask it to stop supporting the propagandist Venezuelan Solidarity Campaign.