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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro won a sham election last year after deposing or intimidating his legitimate challengers. He begins his second six-year term Thursday, much to the chagrin of 85% of Venezuelans, international humanitarian aid organizations and most of the world's leaders.

Why it matters: While many nebulously blame "socialism" for Venezuela's dire condition, the truth is that the country's problems are a result of corruption and wide-ranging economic incompetence from Maduro's government. And humanitarian crisis aside, Venezuela owes international creditors an estimated $150 billion.

Here's a short list of problems Maduro will face in his second term, most of his own creation:

  • Annual inflation is estimated to be 1,400,000% and forecast to rise to 10,000,000% by year-end.
  • The country's 90% poverty rate.
  • Citizens lost an average of 24 pounds last year because the government can't import food or medicine.
  • Four of the world's 10 most dangerous cities are in Venezuela.
  • The homicide rate has risen to 90 per 100,000 (for reference, the United States has a homicide rate of 5 per 100,000) and 73 Venezuelans die violently every day.
  • 3 million people, nearly 10% of the population, have left the country, with the outflow of citizens increasing annually.
  • The democratically elected and opposition-led National Assembly is seeking to unseat Maduro after he effectively replaced them with a "Constituent Assembly" made up of family members and loyalists.
  • His presidency is being called illegitimate by 14 Latin American countries as party to the Lima Group — including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, and Peru.
  • Oil production has fallen to its lowest in nearly 70 years, with more of what's produced going to China, Russia and Cuba
  • Possible further sanctions and an oil embargo from the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, which has already targeted various companies and members of Maduro's government, including his wife and vice president.

Go deeper: It's nearly impossible to afford a cup of coffee in Venezuela

Go deeper

Lawmakers call for Israel-Hamas ceasefire amid aerial bombardments

Combination images of Republican Sen. Todd Young and Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy. Photo: Michael Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images/Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) and 28 Senate Democrats on Sunday called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas as fighting continued into the night.

Driving the news: Young, a ranking member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, joined panel Chair Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) in a bipartisan statement saying: "Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas' rocket attacks, in a manner proportionate with the threat its citizens are facing.

Bill Gates faces scrutiny over relationship with Microsoft employee, Epstein ties

Photo: Alessandro Di Ciommo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Representatives for Bill Gates pushed back on claims Sunday that he left Microsoft's board because of an earlier sexual relationship and against two other reports detailing more extensive ties with Jeffrey Epstein than had previously been reported.

Driving the news: Microsoft said in an emailed statement to Axios that it "received a concern" in 2019 that its co-founder "sought to initiate an intimate relationship with a company employee in the year 2000," but denied a Wall Street Journal report that its board members thought Gates should resign over the matter.

AT&T in talks with Discovery to combine media assets

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

AT&T is in talks with media giant Discovery about merging its media assets, like CNN, TBS and TNT, according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

Why it matters: A potential merger could allow AT&T and Discovery to better compete with entertainment giants like Disney and Netflix in the video streaming wars.