Let’s face it, it’s not a matter of “if,” it’s a matter of when Venezuela, oil rich and home to seven Miss Universes, collapses.
The socialist country has been in a state of chaos ever since Hugo Chavez introduced political system back in 1999.
Inflation is out of control. Grocery stores are empty and Venezuelans are forced to wait on line all day for toilet paper or a loft of bread. Crime rates are higher than ever. And even though Venezuela has some of the richest oil reserves on the planet, it has the world’s worst economy.
But in the last month, things have really escaladed.
Anti-government protests entered a fourth week and 12 have died in at the demonstrations so far. Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to protest President Nicolás Maduro’s socialist government.
“The country entered its fourth week of protests following two Supreme Court decisions — to revoke the immunity that protects legislators and to dissolve the opposition-controlled legislature, a move that many including the Organization of American States (AOS) dubbed as an “auto-coup d’etat,” writes NBC News. “The Supreme Court reversed the decisions amid mounting international pressure and after the Venezuelan Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Díaz, called the decisions “a rupture of the constitutional order.”
Venezuelans have been protesting for the removal of the Supreme Court Justices, to reinstate of the elections, to release political prisoners and for Maduro’s resignation.
The protests have turned violent. Human Rights organization have accused Venezuelan security forces of using “excessive force and violence” against protesters. Just this Monday, two people were killed by gunmen.
“The latest deaths come amid a month of protests that have sparked politically-motivated shootings and clashes between security forces armed with rubber bullets and tear gas and protesters wielding rocks and Molotov cocktails. Eleven people have also died during night-time looting,” writes The Telegraph. “The ruling Socialist Party accuses foes of seeking a violent coup with US connivance, while the opposition says he is a dictator repressing peaceful protest.”
The protesters wore the colors of the Venezuelan flag and held signs condemning the state of the country and blaming the government as they chanted “This government has fallen!”
The bloody protests were the last straw for General Motors. The company is officially abandoning its plant in the country. The company stopped producing cars since 2015.
“GM and antigovernment protesters blame the far-left policies of President Nicolas Maduro and his predecessor, Hugo Chavez, saying a sharp rise in inflation has made it impossible for companies to secure the foreign currency needed to import parts and raw materials,” writes the LA Times. “The government, which has carried out a years-long campaign of expropriation and nationalization in what it calls an “economic war” against multinational companies, says GM and other foreign firms have intentionally slowed production in an effort to sabotage the Maduro administration.”
After the protests and the GM’s Valencia plant being illegally seized by the authorities, the company decided it was finally time to stop business operations in the country. However, the Venezuelan government even said it hopes to reopen the plant.
Unfortunately, it’s the workers that really suffer when companies are forced to slow down or completely cease production.
“While Ford and Toyota have held on to their factories, they too have slowed or stopped production. Most cars made in Venezuela are sold there, and in March, just 293 cars were sold nationwide. In 2007, the monthly average of car sales was 41,666,” writes LA Times. “David Smilde, a Venezuela expert at Tulane University, said currency controls and other economic policies carried out by the Venezuelan government have deeply damaged the country’s ability to produce goods while also hurting its ability to pay for products from other nations.“They’re absolutely destroying the productive apparatus of the country and just making the country worse,” he said.”
But, it’s so much worse than empty factories and violence at protests.
“A catalogue of the violence over the last 18 days is shocking – schools have been ransacked, a Supreme Court building has been torched, an air force base attacked, while public transport, health and veterinary facilities have been destroyed. At least 23 people have been left dead, with many more injured. In one of the most shocking cases of right-wing violence, at around 10pm on April 20th, women, children and over 50 newborn babies had to be evacuated by the government from a public maternity hospital which came under attack from opposition gangs,” according to Venezuela Analysis website.
The scary thing is that the Maduro’s opposition isn’t looking to reinstate democracy.
“At this point it should be clear that the opposition’s only goal, far from promoting a “return” to democracy, is to step right over it. They want to remove the elected government more than a year ahead of scheduled elections. But they don’t want to stop there. As one opposition marcher told me on Wednesday: “Get your stuff together Maduro, because you’re going to jail”. The opposition’s goal is the total annihilation of Chavismo,” according to Venezuela Analysis website.
The other problem is that the country is spread apart. So if the opposition was to actually take over some of the military bases in distant states, it would be tremendously difficult for the central government to take them back. If the opposition controls everywhere but the capital, then Maduro may have to seek asylum elsewhere.
Author’s note: Again this country is on the verge of a collapse. But, who will take over once it finally does?