by Viraj Shah
Venezuela’s desperate economic times are not ending anytime soon. The nation entered an economic emergency for the 6th consecutive time under Nicolas Maduro’s leadership. The Venezuelans endured massive currency devaluation last year. Food shortage, rising prices and lack of basic amenities is making them flee to neighboring countries, especially Brazil. The opposition’s task to get the President recalled have fallen flat in 2016 and the country is now entering a pressure cooker situation with increasing volatility and political volatility.
Here are 3 reasons why the Venezuelan crisis is as scary as it is disturbing.
People have no option- neither government, nor opposition
It is difficult to imagine a country that has given up on the government as well as the opposition, unless you go to Venezuela. The Democracy Unity Roundtable (the united opposition, known as MUD) has failed in creating a roadmap to fuel the fire of citizen’s demands. When times turned rough and protests began late in 2016, the opposition was as overwhelmed as the government and failed to capitalize the unrest into a political movement.
— Prof. Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) January 21, 2017
Datanalisis, a polling firm based in Venezuela, confirmed that only 1/5th of the citizens support the Maduro government in testing times. With a popular vote meandering around 20% and economic emergency in place, there is nothing that Maduro can do to strengthen his position in public. However, the people are also disappointed in the united opposition coalition that has failed to revive hope or even a political change. Even with an opportunity, the opposition appears overwhelmed and directionless, if nothing else.
To be or not to be – with Maduro or without?
The deadline for the recall referendum of the President has passed, thanks to the involvement of the government officials who slept on the idea until it was no longer viable. Fresh elections are a year away and Venezuela has months to go before the hitting on the release valve and finally selecting someone new. The country does not support Maduro or his left-wing Hugo Chavez ideology anymore. However, a recall referendum will only mean that he will be replaced by Tareck Al Assami, the radical Vice President appointed by Maduro himself.
— teleSUR English (@telesurenglish) January 21, 2017
In this situation, Venezuela could fall into a vicious trap. While the chances of Maduro losing to a coup are highly unlikely, if he loses in a referendum, Assami will take his place. He is known for his radical approach. He has been linked to human trafficking, drugs and even Hezbollah which creates an even darker picture of the country’s future than what Maduro has painted now. Most likely, the Venezuelans must wait till 2018 for fresh elections. Contrary to this, many smaller-level elections have been called off in the country recently which may not be a favorable decision for the people.
The real struggle is for power- left is no more socialist
The political and economic problem with Venezuela is the struggle for power. Chavistas (supports of Hugo Chavez and his left-centric ideology) have been trying hard to get their way through the chaos. Whether Maduro remains or Assami gains power depends on their wish to gain more political leverage out of the country’s misery. Venezuela has turned into a case study of economic socialism. The country is struggling with poverty and crime is rampant on the streets. The basic infrastructure of the nation is on the brink of breaking down and survival has become difficult with each passing day. It has even been termed a ‘failed state’ by political analysts. Mass migration is another big problem. People have started fleeing the nation to find better opportunities in neighboring countries. The crisis that Venezuela brought to its currency is another case study of a failing currency and a crashing economy.
Venezuela is one of the states that are troubled with rising internal crises. Maduro blames lowering oil prices for the doom but this hasn’t helped people lining up for food and other necessities in the country. With people fleeing the country, currency crisis at an all-time high and political lethargy, the country can either wait for a strong visionary leader or fresh elections in 2018.
The political crisis in Venezuela needs to end quickly for the good. The inflation is at all time high and if things continue likes this then it won’t be too long before there is mass exodus.