Since I returned from Venezuela, the political situation there has been steadily worsening. On 16 November, Hugo Chavez ordered the national guard to take over the running of several police stations in Caracas and for the police to come under the direct control of the government, sparking city-wide protests. Days later, Venezuela’s Supreme Court overturned a previous decision of the country’s electoral authorities to hold a referendum on whether President Hugo Chavez should resign.

A national strike was called, which began on 2 December. The strike brought the entire country to a standstill, and oil exports upon which Venezuela is so heavily dependent were halted. Troops were brought in to try to keep essential supplies moving and the oil executives who joined the strike were sacked by the government. In an address on national television, Hugo Chavez demanded that troops ignore court rulings and follow nobody’s orders but his own. With the increasing risk of violence in the country, on the twentieth day of the strike the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office issued the advice to all British Nationals to leave the country.

It is heart-breaking to see this beautiful country being torn apart by an incompetent and megalomaniac leader. Venezuela should be a rich country, yet its wealth has been squandered. We can only hope and pray that order is restored and that Hugo Chavez is soon replaced by someone worthy of the office.