Iconic Guns in Movies

Directors give guns roles just as they would famous actors. Movies have featured firearms from the beginning. The public’s reaction to weapons in movies have often caused sales to skyrocket, making the guns more popular than they might have been otherwise. Film critics and gun experts argue over the most iconic guns in popular culture, including movies. This list details some of the most iconic weapons on the silver screen.

Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry

Smith & Wesson Model 29

Clint Eastwood gave the S&W Model 29 its screen debut when he played San Francisco detective “Dirty” Harry Callahan in the 1971 movie “Dirty Harry.” The movie was the first in a series in which Eastwood carried a Model 29 44 Magnum. S&W built the Model 29 in 1955 and released it on the market in 1956. Remington produced the first ammunition, using a 240-grain bullet with a muzzle energy of nearly 1,200 feet per second.

Although there was a more powerful gun on the market, Callahan called the Model 29 “the most powerful handgun in the world.” Smith & Wesson enjoyed great success with its Model 29 as the movie became an instant classic.  Director John Milius owns one of the original Model 29s. It is on display in the Hollywood Guns display at the William B. Ruger Gallery.

James Bond's iconic gun

Walther PPK

James Bond 007 uses a lot of weapons and is known for his guns. Many weapons have been used throughout the fictional legend’s movie career but the most iconic is the 7.65mm Walther PPK. The Walther PPK is the handgun that James Bond used in the original Ian Fleming novels. The Walther PPK described in Dr. No, Bond’s first film, was actually a PP (“police pistol”), a larger model than the PPK. Bond changed models when he used a 9mm Walther P99 in Tomorrow Never Dies, however, he went back to using a PPK in Spectre.

Sylvester Stallone in Expendables

The 1911

This gun wins the day in many movies from westerns to modern day classics. Although it’s over 100 years old, aficionados and collectors love the 1911. It plays a great role in every movie it has appeared in, including a stylized version in “Supernatural,” and as the enforcer used by Jeff Bridges in the “The Big Lebowski.”

Bruce Willis in Die Hard

Beretta 92

The sleek Italian-made Beretta 92 shows up well on screen. Many movie heroes have used the flashy 9mm including Mel Gibson in “Lethal Weapon” and Bruce Willis as John McClane in the “Die Hard” series.

John Wayne in Peacemaker

Colt Single Action Army

No western would be complete without an appearance by the Colt Single Action Army – AKA the Colt Peacemaker.  Marshals and villains carried this gun, and it was stowed behind many bars. Wyatt Earp carried a Colt SAA, although it wasn’t the gun he used at the OK Corral. The guns are still used in Cowboy Action Shooting.

The Next Icons

Moviemakers continue to use a wide variety of weapons in their movies – real and fictitious. Along with the Desert Eagle and many ARs, guns will always play a part on the big screen and in popular culture.

Best 1911 Pistols

Gold custom 1911

Firearms enthusiasts have many weapons to choose from, but there are few who are more devoted to their guns than those who own 1911 pistols. The 1911 is known for its excellent steel frame and adjustable trigger. Some complain that the trigger, while the best on the market, requires a breaking in period. You may find a gun that’s more advanced, but never one that’s as iconic as the 1911.

History

John Moses Browning designed many weapons during his career, including the 1911 .45 ACP, Winchester 30-30, Remington Model 11, and Browning High Power. He also supplied the military with the Browning Automatic Rifle and Browning .50 caliber Machine Gun, along with many .30 caliber and .50 caliber machine guns made by Colt. Browning held 128 gun patents, creating many famous firearms during his forty-seven years as an inventor.

In 1889, Browning began to experiment with self-loading weapons. Browning converted Winchester’s 1873 lever-action model to an autoloader. He used the principle of using the action of gas at the muzzle to create Colt’s Model 1895 machine gun, which was referred to as the “Browning Potato Digger.”  The Army asked Colt to create a .45 caliber cartridge. Browning modified a .38 autoloader to handle a .45 cartridge. The Army conducted grueling field trials on Browning’s gun. Experts asked for changes and more tests. Browning made the changes and developed the M1911, a locked-breech, single-action semi-automatic pistol. On March 29th, 1911, the Army adopted Colt’s .45 Automatic pistol, the Model 1911.

The Best 1911 Pistols

Springfield Armory 1911 Range Officer Semi Auto Pistol – .45 ACP/9mm

Springfield produces high quality guns and their 1911s are no exception. Their most popular guns are the Champion, Loaded, and Range Officer. Novices choose the Range Officer for range training and practice. The gun gives off low recoil and has excellent accuracy. The beginner-friendly firearm sells for less than $1000.

Ruger SR1911 .45 ACP Semi Auto Pistol

Ruger makes a classically designed pistol with modern features. Its solid construction provides many years of regular use. Its all metal, lightweight frame is easy to handle and offers high accuracy. Ruger designed the gun to appear like the original but has added modern safety features, including an oversized beavertail thumb safety.

Smith & Wesson SW1911 E-Series – .45 ACP/9mm

Smith & Wesson introduced its 1911 series in 2003. They introduced their lineup of 1911 pistols in 2003. S&W upgraded its SW1911 to make the SW1911 E-Series, with a tactical rail, 5” barrel, precision trigger, and tritium night sights for front and back. One negative is the price, listing at over $1000.

SIG Sauer 1911 Emperor Scorpion .45 ACP Centerfire Pistol

SIG Sauer offers the 1911 Emperor Scorpion, a .45 ACP centerfire pistol. It features a stainless steel frame and slides, made with American parts. The pistol is heavy but has a Hogue Magwell grip, high level of accuracy and a superior trigger.

Colt Combat Elite

Colt make high quality firearms. They released the first 1911, so it makes sense that one of their models would make the short list. Colts makes the Combat Elite with forged steel, and offers a single safety side lock, Novak low sight, enhanced hammer, and a beavertail grip safety. The MSRP is $1000.

How to Store Ammunition Properly

 Ammunition Storage Box

Gun enthusiasts often buy ammunition in bulk, whether it’s for stockpiling, hunting, or target shooting. Ammo storage is key to protecting your investment. The rules for proper ammo storage are simple. You don’t need a gun vault or special equipment to keep your rounds cool and dry.

Temperature

Everyone will tell you that the first rule of storing ammunition is to keep it cool and dry. Experts store ammo in a temperature controlled environment, usually inside the home. You can use a gun vault, closet, or any location that isn’t subjected to fluctuations in heat and humidity. A basement may work fine in some cases.

Storing ammo in attics, vehicles, and outdoor buildings (like sheds) are never a good idea since they get hot in the summer. Heat and humidity cause big problems with ammunition. It can change the chemical composition of the gun powder, causing misfires. It can also cause corrosion of the casing. If that happens, you should just throw it away and start with a fresh batch.

Ammo Storage Containers

Ammo storage containers are available online and at most retail stores that sell ammo. You don’t have to purchase the most expensive one on the shelf, in fact, any airtight container will work. Some argue the merits of plastic versus metal. Others will use household containers like Tupperware. Adding moisture-absorbing packets (desiccants) to the container will help with the humidity. If you have children, add a lock to the container for safety.

Avoid using old metal containers as the seams aren’t usually airtight.

Shelf Life

Experts say that ammunition can easily last up to 50 years or more. Ammo stored in the original box should be used in the next 12 months or less to prevent damage to the cartridges and your weapon.

Surplus Ammunition

Surplus ammunition can be a great buy. Smart buyers ask the sellers how the ammunition has been stored as incorrect storage can make the ammo useless or dangerous.

Labeling

You should label ammunition for a number of reasons. First, it will prevent a novice from mixing up calibers. Second, it will make it easy to locate the caliber you’re looking for without opening the airtight boxes. Dating the boxes will allow you to rotate stock as you purchase new ammo.

Safety First

Safety is key when storing guns and ammo. Kids open drawers, boxes, and everything they aren’t supposed to, and that includes ammo storage containers. Parents must teach their children how to respect guns and ammo at a young age, so the kids know that they should never be touched without adult supervision. A gun vault or locked ammunition box (and gun box) are imperative if you have children or there will be children on the premises. You should always store guns and ammo separately. If you keep a loaded gun in the house, make sure that it is under lock and key to avoid accidents. This safety guide offers tips and ideas of how to keep your home and ammo safe.

 

 

The .243 Winchester as the Ultimate Hunting Cartridge

.243 Winchester is a hunter's dream

The .243 Winchester, AKA 6×52mm,  was introduced in 1955 for its two most popular rifle models, the Model 70 bolt-action and the Model 88 lever-action. Winchester used a case from a .308 Winchester to create a bottle-necked, rimless, centerfire cartridge that was designed to control varmints. Designers reduced the case, necking it down to handle a bullet with a flat trajectory. They wanted to create something that would be able to kill larger varmints, like coyotes, that couldn’t be taken down by a .22 bullet.

An Instant Success

The .243 Win was an instant success with hunters due to its light weight. The 70 to 85 grain round proved to be perfect for varmint hunters. They needed a round that could take long-range shots, as long as 400 yards. Hunters targeting medium-sized game such as whitetail deer, coyotes, mule deer, pronghorns, and wild hogs use a 90 to 105 grain cartridge to ensure a kill. The .243 is considered to be the most popular deer hunting cartridge on the market, therefore it’s always easy to get.

Versatility

Shooters appreciate the .243 for its versatility. It is the first commercially produced round that covers both sides of game hunting. It uses soft point and power point bullets with weights ranging between 55 and 115 grains. Muzzle velocity ranges from about 2,800 feet per second (FPS) to 3,900 feet per second (FPS). The muzzle energy ranges from 1,700 to 2,600 foot pounds (ft-lbs).

.243 Winchester Ackley

Gun enthusiasts are familiar with rounds that have been altered by legendary munitions expert P.O. Ackley. Ackley was a famous wildcatter, writer and firearms expert. He was always after a larger case capacity, and began re-chambering his weapons. He used fireforming on various rounds, decreasing the body taper and increasing the shoulder angle. The result was a higher case capacity. In 1955, he created the .243 Winchester Ackley. The cartridge sported a 10% larger powder capacity with a slightly increased velocity.

Ackley opened his Oregon-based gunsmithing business in 1936. WWII interrupted the operation, and then he re-opened in Colorado in 1945. Ackley adapted over 30 rounds to meet his specifications. Some wildcatters honor Ackley by saying their creations are “Ackley Improved.”

Attributes and Benefits

Many hunters credit the round as the one used to take down their first deer. Shooters like the low recoil and low noise. It makes it easier to use for smaller or less experienced hunters to get a solid bead on their target. High accuracy made it a smart choice for the Los Angeles Police Department Special Weapons And Tactics unit to adopt shortly after it went to market.

While the .243 is popular in the U.S., internationally the round is subjected to UK’s Deer Act of 1963. The legislation restricts weapons and rounds during certain seasons. The law specifies a minimum bullet diameter of .240 inches. This makes the .243 an entry-level cartridge for legal deer-stalking. However, the .243 is available in other countries, such as Spain, where it takes the place of guns using restricted “military calibers.”

 

The Underappreciated .380 ACP

The Underrated Colt .380

The .380 ACP has been popular since 1908 when it was introduced by the Colt Manufacturing Company. John Browning designed the cartridge for Colt’s Model 1908 pocket semi-automatic pistol. The innovative round is light, but has less stopping power than its heavier counterparts. The ammo remained popular during World War II and beyond until the military shunned it in favor of the 9mm. It remained popular among European law enforcement agencies until the 1980s. Despite the waning popularity, the gun and ammo remain favorites with people seeking a compact gun for self-defense or concealed carry.

Legends and Myths

Shooters have criticized the .380 ACP almost since it appeared on the market. Naysayers spread myths about the gun and its ammo, saying things that simply aren’t true. The facts show that those spreading the myths haven’t used a .380 often enough, if at all. If you have doubts about the effectiveness of the ammo, check the ballistics stats.

.380 ACP Isn’t Inaccurate

Shooters unable to hit their targets with a compact gun automatically blame the gun, the ammo, or both. I won’t dispute that compact guns are harder to shoot, and micro-sized guns are even more difficult. However, that doesn’t mean that the ammo is inaccurate. The .380 ACP is made for close range targets, not taking down a bear at 200 yards. Gun owners should know the capabilities of the gun they are using and practice with those goals in mind.

No Stopping Power

Stopping power is directly related to shot placement. Some may claim that their .45 is defective because it didn’t take down their target. What they don’t say is that they shot him in the elbow. Most bullets will stop their targets if the shot is placed correctly, and the .380 is no exception. In fact, it works well in close range situations. If a shooter is unable to stop an attacker or intruder with a single shot, he should return to the range.

.380 ACP is Made For Women

Annie Oakley might take offense to that statement, claiming, “Them’s fightin’ words.” And Annie would be right. The gun is small, but that doesn’t mean that it was made for someone with small hands. Shooting any gun, including a .380 ACP, takes skill. Shooters know that small guns are often harder to shoot, and anyone – man or woman – needs to practice shooting to learn to manage the recoil. You can’t pick it up for the first time and follow in Annie’s footsteps.

.380 ACP isn’t Good for Self-Defense

This comment relates to the myth about stopping power. A gun owner doesn’t need a .45 Mag as a self-defense weapon. It’s true that .380 ammo won’t cause hydrostatic shock, instantly debilitating its target. For most purposes, that would be overkill. However, it will stop an attacker provided the shooter knows how to aim and uses quality ammunition.

Conclusion

Ammunition manufacturers are specific about ballistics but knowing how ammo performs in a given situation is up to the shooter. Do your homework and use the right tool for the job.

 

Eras of the Military-Industrial Complex

Military spending by country

President Dwight D. Eisenhower used the term Military Industrial Complex (MIC) in his Farewell Address to the United States in 1961:

“This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Eisenhower explained how the MIC could hurt the nation if the government spent too much money on military weapons. While the POTUS talked about the MIC in a new way, the idea itself was not new. Nor would it end in the years to follow.

The First Era

From the beginning until 1941, the U.S. government used its people to make arms during wartime. The government owned shipyards and munitions factories. World War II changed the picture.

FDR created the War Production Board to use civilians to make weapons for war. The people made a great deal of money at that time. The War ended but the WPB stayed in place. Private companies began to supply services to the government to outfit the military.

The Second Era

The Second Era began with the withdrawal of the Warsaw Pact in 1990 and the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1991. The Pentagon asked defense contractors to unite to work within the defense budget, which had been cut.

The Third Era

The Third Era is the state of the Military-Industrial Complex from 1992-present. Defense contractors make other goods, from weapons to other items including surveillance, nanotechnology, 3D printing, and other advancements. Large companies merge with smaller businesses to create bigger companies worth billions of dollars. The Department of Defense imports many forms of technology, but no longer shares them on the open market.

Private industry creates more opportunities for technology companies, but defense contractors have a strong hold on making weapons for the government, just as former military officers cash in on their experiences.

 

Winter Travel Safety

 

Traveling in Bad Weather

If you travel in winter you may be confronted by some unexpected things such as snow, ice, power outages, and more. If you travel by car, you could hit traffic delays, accidents, and breakdowns. Experts report that extreme cold kills faster than extreme heat, yet many people know little about extreme cold preparedness.

Winter Gear

Appropriate clothing is important when going out into extreme temperatures, even if your intention is to go to the grocery store. Wearing layers protects you from wind and snow as well as more dangerous problems like hypothermia. Hypothermia means that your body loses heat faster than it can make it. Extreme cold leads to stress on the nervous system, heart, and other organs.

Winter gear should include several layers of clothing made of waterproof or insulated materials to stay dry and preserve body heat. Synthetic fabrics like polyester or natural materials like wool are best for base layers; outer layers should be weatherproof against wind, rain, and snow.

Driving in Bad Weather

Weather experts warn drivers to stay inside when storms or extreme temperatures are in the forecast. If you must travel in bad weather, let someone know your departure and arrival times, along with your route. A mechanic should check your car to make sure that the brakes and exhaust are functioning well, that your tires are adequate, and that all fluids, including antifreeze, are full. Carry additional washer fluid to combat slush on the highways.

Emergency gear should include:

  • First-aid kit
  • Thermal blanket
  • Compass
  • Kitty litter or sand for traction
  • Water
  • Tire chains
  • Food
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • Emergency signals/signal flares
  • Bright-colored cloth to mark the vehicle in a snowstorm
  • Extra boots and gloves

Stranded

If you become stranded while traveling, winter survival dictates that you should stay with your car if at all possible.  Leaving your car is dangerous, particularly if the there is a snowstorm, since the chances of being found diminish. Your car provides shelter and has heat as long as it has fuel. Run the motor for ten minutes every hour to stay warm. Crack the window to allow for ventilation and, if there is a lot of snow, make sure the car’s exhaust pipe is not clogged.

Tie a bright cloth to the antenna to signal distress.

Shelter

If you must leave your vehicle for some reason, you may need to build a shelter to protect yourself during a snowstorm. Stay as close to your vehicle as possible. A snow wall will create a wind block and help to keep you warm. Stay as visible as possible so that you may be found. If traveling with another person, use body heat to keep warm. Move around as much as possible to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.

Understanding Tax Deductions

How to calculate income tax deductions

Filing federal income taxes is a necessary evil most people don’t like to discuss. The 16th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, or the federal income tax amendment, requires all U.S. citizens to pay state and federal taxes on or before April 15th of each year.

To some people, understanding taxes is more difficult than untying the Gordian Knot, in other words, impossible. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 has made big changes in the tax system and is considered the largest tax overhaul in over 30 years. It eliminates deductions and credits yet increases the standard tax and child tax credits. As a result, some people will see larger refunds. While others will mourn the loss of deductions.

Some tax breaks may return after provisions of the law expire in 2025. Following are tax deductions that have changed or are no longer available:

The Standard Deduction

The good news is that there is an increase in the $6,350 standard deduction. Single taxpayers will get a much higher deduction for the 2018 tax year. The standard deduction for individuals is now $12,000. Married couples receive a standard deduction of $24,000.

Miscellaneous Itemized Deductions

Several miscellaneous itemized deductions have been eliminated under the Tax Act. Taxpayers can no longer take deductions for tax preparation, professional dues, investment fees, fees for financial services.

Deductions for an Employee’s Unreimbursed Expenses

Workers who buy uniforms and other job-related items can no longer claim them as a deduction.

Moving Expenses

Only military personnel can deduct moving expenses if their job requires the move.

Casualty Loss

Taxpayers can’t deduct casualty losses unless they reside in a presidentially-designated disaster zone.

Alimony

In 2019, alimony is not taxable income; therefore alimony payments can’t be deducted.

Overlooked Deductions

Tax deductions are overlooked every year. Following are deductions taxpayers should consider when filing federal taxes:

State Income or Sales Tax

Taxpayers who itemize can choose to deduct either state income tax or state sales tax payments. Either way, the cap on the deduction is $10,000.

Medical Expenses

In 2019, the expenses must exceed 10% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income.

Car Registration Fees

Flat fees and weight-based fees are not tax deductible. The law allows taxpayers to deduct value-based fees.

Non-cash Charitable Giving

Making a cash donation to a charity is deductible. However, so are non-cash gifts, such as clothing.

Property Taxes

Starting in 2018, there is a $10,000 cap on property taxes, sales tax, and state income tax.

Traditional IRA Contributions

In 2018, workers under age 50 can contribute up to $5,500 per tax year, while those age 50 or older can make a $6,500 contribution.

Educational Expenses

Educational deductions include the Lifetime Learning Credit, the American Opportunity Credit, and student loan interest.

Child Care

Working parents may be able to receive the child and dependent care tax credit. The deduction may also include other forms of child care expense such as a day camp or summer program. However, the deduction requires detailed documentation.

 

The History of U.S. Prisons

2014 picture of the Old Jail in Barnstable, MA

The United States has more prisoners than any other country. American jails have the largest number of inmates per capita – 655 per 100,000 adults. The number of people that have been in prison at one time is more than 70 million, or 1 in 35.

States have been unable to keep up with the demand for prisons or the funds to build them. As a result, private companies fund prisons and run them as profitable businesses. It seems to be a good solution to the problem. However, the prison industrial complex is a controversial issue.

Nineteen states use private prisons to house their inmates, creating a “prison for profit” model. Private companies report making over $7 billion dollars per year. Detractors claim that the companies view prisons as cash cows, cutting corners and providing bad service to inmates. Prisoners released from private prisons have a higher recidivism rate than those from government-run facilities.

In the Beginning

The U.S. Constitution is based on British law. Incarceration in England was rare. Police sent criminals to workhouses with bad conditions. The government hoped that their “houses of correction” would rehabilitate the criminals. In the 1700s the practice of reform began. Philosophers believed that criminals needed to become “morally pure.” Inmates often ended up in solitary confinement to ponder the error of their ways. When the first settlers came to America, so did the British rules on punishment.

The Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colony courts built the first jail circa 1690 in Barnstable, MA. “The Old Jail” housed up to six prisoners, and was used until about 1820 when it was replaced by a stone building. In 1968, the Old Jail was moved onto the grounds of the Coast Guard Heritage Museum. In 1971, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

While there were jails in America in the 17th and 18th centuries, there were no prisons. Colonists built the first prison in Philadelphia in 1790. The existing Walnut Street jail had been expanded to hold convicted criminals. The prison was established by the peace-keeping Quakers, who intended to use the prison for hard work, self-examination, and spiritual reflection. The plan was not successful. By the 1820s, prison had become the ultimate punishment. The government was able to keep criminals in horrific conditions, and to use them as slave labor.

Incarceration

Law enforcement locked up prisoners for a short time. People arrested for public drunkenness slept it off. Sheriffs told fighters to calm down. Those accused of more serious crimes were held over for trial, which usually occurred within a couple of days. Criminals were branded, shamed, or run out of town. The law used corporal punishment for more serious crimes.

Most people that came to America worked as laborers, so it didn’t make sense to lock them up for long periods of time. Additionally, the colonists could not feed and house criminals, so they were set free. The colonists did have a restriction on who could come to America from England. Those refused included rapists, burglars, witches, and murderers.

The era of the American Revolution changed things. The government installed two systems of punishment. One system locked up prisoners alone while the second system incarcerated prisoners in groups. At that time, the issue of incarceration was considered a Northern problem. Most of the prisons were in the North; the South used violence and the honor system to keep crime at bay.

Very little changed in the prison system until the 1970s. The War on Drugs began, causing an explosion in the number of prison inmates. States sorely needed funds to house prisoners and began to rely on corporations to fund the system. Prisons for profit were born.

Prison laborers provide big profit

Prison Labor

Prison labor goes back to the days of the convict lease system in the late 1880s. Prisons began to “lease out” their prisoners, making a profit from the work. Judges sent prisoners to plantations. Other common uses for labor were coal mining and building roads and railroads. However, the death rate of convicts was high.

The convict lease system died out. However, the government replaced the program with systems similar to convict labor. Chain gangs and prison farms became popular.

The 13th Amendment permits prison labor if the prisoner has been convicted.  The 13th Amendment states, “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Today, privatized prisons make billions of dollars from inmates who are typically paid a few cents an hour.

Prisoners went on strike protesting forced labor. Inmates demanded that prisons pay them to work. They wanted to work under better conditions. In 2018, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee and Jailhouse Lawyers Speak sponsored a prison strike. Inmates told prison officials that the inmates should not be excluded from the 13th amendment, claiming that such low pay equals “modern-day slavery.”

 

 

Who is Nicolas Maduro?: A Look At Venezuela

Nicolas Maduro

Nicolás Maduro Moros is the current President of Venezuela. Born in 1962, Maduro became the President of Venezuela in 2013 when his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, died from cancer. In 2018, Maduro was reelected to the office by a with 67.8% of the vote. The legitimacy of the election was in question and deemed as fraudulent by neighboring countries, including Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, the United States, and Canada.

Previous to serving as the President, Maduro was the Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2013 and served as Vice President to Hugo Chavez from 2012 to 2013.

Controversy

Currently, Venezuela is undergoing an extreme socioeconomic crisis. Many blame Maduro for his governmental policies, referring to him as a dictator. At present, the country is experiencing hyperinflation, the Venezuelan exchange rate is plummeting, and there is mass emigration to neighboring South American countries and the U.S. Over 3 million people have fled Venezuela since 2015, citing starvation. The IMF predicts that the Venezuela’s inflation rate will reach 1 million percent by the end of 2018, the highest rate seen since the beginning of the 20th century.

The huge reduction in oil production, Venezuela’s main source of income, has caused severe decreases in resources including food and medicine. Maduro has recently put a plan in place to revitalize the country’s wealth by mining for gold in the Orinoco Arc. The plan may be sound in theory, but to date poor treatment of workers, environmental crimes, and murder have been the only outcome of Maduro’s mission.

Citizens believe that Maduro’s form of socialism is what will be the downfall of the country, not the lack of oil.

There are other controversies surrounding the President, including his place of birth. By law, a citizen must be born in Venezuela to serve as the country’s president. In the past it has been stated that Maduro was born in Colombia, not in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas. No proof has been brought forward to substantiate the claim though.

Background

Maduro attended Liceo José Ávalos, a public high school. He allegedly became interested in politics during high school, but never graduated.

In 1979, Maduro was named as a person of interest in the kidnapping of American, William Niehous.

Maduro began his professional career as a bus driver for the Caracas Metro company. He ventured into formal politics in the 1980s, when he became an unofficial trade unionist representing fellow bus drivers.

At age 24 , Maduro lived in Cuba with other South American leftist militants. He attended a one-year course at the Escuela Nacional de Cuadros Julio Antonio Mella. Reportedly Maduro studied under Pedro Miret Prieto. Prieto was a close associate to Fidel Castro and senior member of the Politburo of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Maduro’s introduction to Hugo Chavez is unclear. The Cuban government allegedly assigned Maduro to work as a mole for Cuba’s Dirección de Inteligencia, with the aim of approaching Chávez.

In the early 1990s, he joined The Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200 (MBR-200), a political and social movement founded by Hugo Chávez in 1982. In the 1990s, Maduro also co-founded the Movement of the Fifth Republic, the main supporter for Chávez’s presidential election in 1998.

Maduro rose quickly through the political ranks:

  • 1998 – The Venezuelan Chamber of Deputies
  • 1999 – The National Constituent Assembly
  • 2000 – The NationalAssembly
  • 2005 – Assembly elected Maduro to the position of Speaker
  • 2006 – Appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs

In 2012, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appointed Maduro as Vice President. Shortly after Chavez’s victory and Maduro’s appointment, Chavez announced that he would have to return to Cuba for cancer surgery. Chavez secured Maduro’s position as President by naming the VP as his successor.

Sanctions

In 2017, the United States sanctioned Maduro following his election. The U.S. labels him as a “dictator,” which prevents him from entering the United States. In 2018, Donald Trump placed more sanctions against Venezuela regarding their gold mining operation, forbidding any U.S. entities from participating in the process or from buying any of the gold mined in the country.