AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos

Venezuela Declares Forced Labor For Its Citizens

On July 22nd, President Nicolas Maduro decreed via executive action that all employed citizens would be subject to a 60-day or more mandated forced labor in the fields to help reduce the food shortages the country faces. Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, compared this decree to "a useless attempt at fixing a broken leg with a band-aid." Employers cannot replace employees that have been called into government labor since that employee may return at any given time, per the mandate. 

Back in August of 2015 the Venezuelan government closed the border to Colombia due to ongoing disputes between the two countries. The government reopened the border crossing in the state of Tachira on July 17th due to many years of overwhelming food, medical, and water shortages and allowed some of its citizens to purchase goods to restock their pantries. 

Venezuela had a hardy agricultural sector but once Hugo Chavez, who represented the ever growing socialist tide in Venezuela, took power in Venezuela farmers and private land owners have seen much, if not all, of their land and product confiscated. Much of this product, which already had hefty fines imposed on them, was found rotten in containers in major ports. Though many blame the low oil prices to Venezuela’s economic woes, much of it is due to the socialist policies of fines, taxes, and regulations placed on food and basic imported necessities.

The National Assembly is set to discuss the decree this upcoming week however any resolution will not be implemented due to a restriction set on them by now deceased President Hugo Chavez which transformed them into a symbolic entity. 

In what many say is "a desperate attempt to increase support from the military," Maduro appointed the country’s defense minister, Vladimir Padrino, as leader of an agency that will control food supply and distribution. 


Jessica Scheering

Jess is a native Venezuelan who loves good theology, arepas, chicken pot pie, and the Intermountain West.