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Venezuela spiraling with political, economic crises

As Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó continues to hold rallies across the nation after declaring himself ‘acting president,’ international pressure is mounting on Nicolás Maduro, who was sworn in for a second term after an election riddled with fraud. The New York Times reporter Ana Vanessa Herrero joins Hari Sreenivasan from Caracas for more.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    More nations join the United States today to demand new elections in Venezuela. At a U.N. Security Council meeting this morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged support Juan Guaidó who declared himself president on Wednesday. Pompeo called President Nicolás Maduro's government a "illegitimate mafia state."

  • MIKE POMPEO:

    Now it's time for every other nation to pick a side. No more delays no more games. Either you stand with the forces of freedom or you're in league with Maduro and his mayhem.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    France, Britain, Spain and Germany said they will recognize Guaidó unless Venezuela calls new presidential elections within eight days. New York Times reporter Ana Vanessa Herrero is covering the developments in Caracas. She joins us now via Skype it. Ana, we have a situation now where you have multiple parties, multiple countries from the outside recognizing Guaidó as the president and then at the same time, you've got the military that has expressed, at least publicly, their support for Nicolás Maduro.

  • ANA VANESSA HERRERO:

    We are witnessing what Venezuelans know very well. Two Venezuelas, two different realities in the same country. We now witness two presidents but before we had two Supreme Courts, one in exile and one in the country, and two attorney generals, one in exile and one in the country. And the thing that caught our attention is that even though the defense minister says that there is a coup against Nicolás Maduro, and Nicolás Maduro also said the same thing. Juan Guaidóo is still on the streets, he is still out there, he is still calling people to the streets. He still gathers a lot of people, he called for another huge demonstration next Wednesday and he's still, you know, out there just doing what he said he was going to do, stay there until now he's out of the disturbing presidency.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    What is the situation on the streets, regardless of what's happening politically? Your economy is in freefall, food is hard to get. I mean, describe what it's like despite the politics.

  • ANA VANESSA HERRERO:

    Well that hasn't changed at all. If anything it is getting worse. We're talking about a hyperinflation that is projected to be 10 million percent, according to the Monetary Fund. And just to translate that into everyday life, we're talking about prices changing literally every day sometimes, even in the supermarket. This is something I've witnessed, being in the supermarket and checking the price two or three times and see how they change it over an hour, and let's not forget this is a country that is reaching up to 70 percent poverty. We're talking about families that eat only just one meal a day and even that they have to share. A minimum wage, that's about a dollar six to eight dollars a month. I mean, there's (UNTELL) still falling and now the politics are just pushing towards the edge.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    You know, I want to ask you in the context of this hyperinflation, when the value of the currency keeps diminishing, does this affect the loyalty of the troops whose paychecks are also becoming worth less and less?

  • ANA VANESSA HERRERO:

    Well that is what experts say — it's happening exactly that and that is why the defense minister, when he spoke immediately after (UNTELL) exile an opposition congressman in exile jumped to Twitter and said, wait a minute because this person that just appeared on TV, the defense minister that is, doesn't represent the troops, he represents the high ranking officials who are involved in criminal activities, who the United States (UNTELL) already. But the troops are the real movement that according to him and to the opposition are with the opposition. They doesn't like this anymore. They want to change. Is this really going to happen? Well we really don't know because high rank officials have much too much power. Let's not forget we're talking about a 20-year regime giving power and money and business to the military. For the opposition, it's very complicated what they're looking for, what they're asking of the military.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right. New York Times reporter, Ana Vanessa Herrero joining us via Skype from Caracas tonight. Thanks so much.

  • ANA VANESSA HERRERO:

    Thank you for having me.

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