War of the Orchids – Political power struggles within Venezuela & US interests

On January the 10th, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in as President of Venezuela for a second time despite claims the 2018 election was illegitimate.

One day later on the 11th, The Venezuela National Assembly declared the election to be invalid and proclaimed their leader Juan Guaidó as President.

Whilst Maduro still claims power Guaidó is still contesting it.

Outside Venezuela, a number of countries have announced support for Guaidó. According to Reuters, Paraguay has cut political ties with Venezuela after Manduri was sworn in for a second term, Peru has withdrawn the country’s diplomats in objection, Brazil has issued support for Guaidó. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, the United States has labeled Maduro’s claim as “illegitimate” and have voiced official support for protestors.

“On behalf of President Donald Trump and all the American people, let me express the unwavering support of the United States as you, the people of Venezuela, raise your voices in a call for freedom.”

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence

United States interests in Venezuela:

Early into the Trump’s presidency, Maduro and his party blamed the United States and Trump for the issues plaguing Venezuela. Therefore the United States and Donald Trump have personal bones to pick with Maduro.

In 2018 (January – October), the United States imported between 13,000 and 21,000 barrels of oil and petroleum. Whilst this is down from previous years as the United States has focused on producing their own oil (reaching 11 million barrels per day last year), the United States still consumes almost 20 million barrels per day meaning they still have a significant interest in Venezuela and it’s stability.

Concerns surrounding refugees and migration has also become an overwhelming issue for the Trump administration. With Trump cracking down on migration, refugees, and asylum seekers hoping to escape their homelands and cross the border; Increased or continued instability within Venezuela will force more to leave in the future. According to the UN Refugee Agency and the UN Migration Agency, the total number of Venezuelan migrants and asylum seekers has now reached 3 million. And whilst the majority have been hosted by neighbouring countries, thousands still make the long journey up to the United States border each year.

Now Maduro has ordered the departure of US diplomats from the country in consequence for the country’s support of his opposition, however, according to the Washington Post, it may be the military that determines whether or Maduro retains control of the country. Whilst the Venezuelan armed forces have publically declared support for Maduro, some suspect internal/private uncertainty due to small actions such as noticeable restraint shown towards both Guaidó and the civilian protests.

Opinion piece: How Twitter is writing itself into the history books.

With a little blue bird and 140 characters, Twitter is fast writing itself into the history books thanks to the help of the United States 45th president Donald Trump.

Mr Trump has taken to social media in a way that no other president has done before. Unfiltered and clearing speaking his mind, the president uses the platform to directly speak with not only his own country; but also the entire world.

With over 45 million followers, the globe now turns to Twitter each day to find out whether the country is at war with North Korea and the links to the latest New York Times and CNN pieces regarding him.

Quite frankly. Twitter has become the new newspaper when it comes to Mr Trump, America as a country and global politics.

And with all this, the social media giant is able to simply rub its hands together and chuckle, knowing that Mr Trump’s presidential legacy and their application have become indefinitely intertwined and their name is not going anywhere fast.

 

Breaking down the United States national anthem protests

America and their National Football league (NFL) have got a lot of attention recently over what has been called “kneeling protests.” So what are they? And why are they gaining so much attention?

So where did it all begin and why? 

The silent protests began last year when one football player sat/kneeled during the national anthem in protest to racial inequality and brutality.

So why is gaining so much attention?

The protest has blown up since President Trump has taken offence to the action, considering it disrespectful to the flag and country. He openly disagrees with it across social media which has caused it grow.

Where is he coming from? The anti-kneeling argument

It is considered appropriate to show respect to and for one’s country when things such as the national anthem are played. It is not an uncommon for someone to stand or hold their hand over their heart (dependant on culture and country).

Americans (as a whole) are viewed as a patriotic group who incredibly respect their soldiers and country. From this perspective, not standing could be seen as disrespectful not only to the country but also to those who serve it and have given their lives for it.

And counter-argument?  

Those on the opposite side of the protest look past the act as a symbol of disrespect and view as a statement on inequality and race relations like it was originally intended.

The act is a form of non-violent protest used to generate conversation and convey messages of which they are free to do so legally.

What does the public think?

While there is significant and on-going debate over the issue, research by Remington Research Centre found that the majority of Americans surveyed also believed that players should stand when the national anthem is played.

Are players required (legally) to stand?

Digging has found that standing was initially suggested in 1891, but only traditionally followed by NFL from 2009.  Players are said to be “encouraged” to stand but are not technically required to.