Venezuela: What is behind the Crisis? Part of Pentagon politics?
Venezuela, according to estimates have the world’s largest oil reserve has grabbed much of our attention, or to say they seize much of the space of our daily newspaper, what’s really happening in Venezuela is still perplex. Here, we look more in depth at the problems facing Venezuela, its president, Nicolas Maduro, and his policies. – Shiva Shankar pandian*
According to BBC, more than six thousand candidates are contesting for the 545-member constituent assembly, none are from the opposition. This new assembly will have the required power to bypass the National Assembly, currently controlled by an alliance of opposition parties.
Neighboring Colombia has said it will not recognize the constituent assembly. France, Spain, the US and the EU have also urged the government to cancel the vote.
Venezuela, according to estimates have the world’s largest oil reserve has grabbed much of our attention, or to say they seize much of the space of our daily newspaper, what’s really happening in Venezuela is still perplex. Here, we look more in depth at the problems facing Venezuela, its president, Nicolas Maduro, and his policies.
Back in late 1990’s and early 2000’s, under the governance of President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela had hosted many ambitious social welfare schemes to benefit the poor. When their oil revenue was surplus, the United Socialist Party (from now on referred as PSUV) was able to implement its socialist agenda without a glitch, free health care for all and quality education for the poor to name a few. This cost state revenue dear, which eventually eroded the revenues and led the country to a shortage of essential goods. Venezuela then started to import 70 percent of their essential food items. This condition further worsened when the global oil prices started to fall. Inflation at its height reached triple digits. The private sector, never friendly to the government (due to its socialistic ambitions), resorted to mass layoffs causing rampant unemployment and started to manipulate currency. The government immediately accused the private players of carrying out an “economic warfare”, including manipulation of the prices of basic necessities.
Unlike in other crisis-hit countries such as Greece and Spain, the unemployment rate was under 6 per cent, and 95 per cent of the population enjoyed three square meals a day. Housing was subsidized by the government.
Venezuela is divided into Chavistas, a common name given to the people who support the socialist policies of the late charismatic President Hugo Chavez, these people are not ready to see an end to the 18 years in power of Chavez’s PSUV.
Opposition camp blames the present government since PSUV came to power in 1999, it eroded Venezuela’s democratic institutions and mismanaged its economy. Chavistas, in turn, accuse the opposition camp of being pro-elitist and exploiting poor Venezuelans to increase their own private riches. Chavistas also openly accuse that the opposition camp leaders are on the pay of the U.S.
Experts say that Maduro is unable to inspire his followers, the Chavistas, in the same way, his predecessor Chavez did. Government since his presidency has furthermore been hampered by falling global oil prices. Actually, it was these oil riches which provided the finance to many of government’s substantial social schemes which have provided more than one million poor Venezuelans with homes and a sustainable life. As mentioned earlier, there was a fall in global oil prices, followed by low revenue to the state, the government was forced to curtail its ambitious social schemes, by which government lost many of its supporters, and they eventually joined the opposition camps.
The opposition camp blamed the PSUV that it diluted the country’s basic feature, ‘separation of powers’ and took Venezuela a step closer to dictatorship under Nicholas Maduro.
The Supreme Court justifying its action said that the National Assembly had ignored previous Supreme Court rulings and was therefore in contempt.
Even though the Supreme Court announced its reversal just three days later, distrust of the court did not wane.
The opposition has made their demands very clear, Firstly, they want the Supreme Court justices who issued the March ruling removed from their offices.
Secondly, the government should conduct fresh elections this year, thirdly, the government should create a “humanitarian channel” to allow the medication to be imported to counter the severe shortages in Venezuela. And finally to release of all the “political prisoners” who were arrested during the protest.
Trump also has warned that “if the Maduro regime imposes its constituent assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions”. As usual, Trump did not give any specifics as to what those actions will be. Trump administration as a sample also slapped sanctions on 13 Venezuelan government and military officials related to Maduro. Mexico and Colombia followed with sanctions on the same individuals. Trump could ban Venezuelan oil to U.S. or the vice versa. This may hurt Venezuela further. U.S. is one of the top consumers of Venezuelan oil. In April, U.S. accounted for about 10% of Venezuela’s oil exports.
As reported in TIME, “The Trump administration announced sanctions on 13 current and former members of Maduro’s administration, freezing their U.S. assets and barring Americans from doing business with them. The U.S. also joined with a dozen other regional governments in urging Maduro to suspend Sunday’s election of a national assembly for rewriting the charter.”
Joining U.S., Colombia, France, Spain and the European Union have also demanded that the Venezuelan government drop its plan for the new assembly.
Maduro in an interview claimed Venezuela was facing a type of “unconventional war that the US has perfected over the last decades”, citing a string of US-backed coups or attempted coups from 1960s Brazil to Honduras in 2009.
“They try to increase economic problems through an economic war to cut the supplies of basic goods and boost an artificial inflation, to create social discontent and violence, to portray a country in flames, which could lead them to justify international isolation and even foreign intervention,” Maduro said in an exclusive interview with The Guardian (2014).
Many U.S. Foreign Policy experts have compared Presidents Obama and Trump’s move to President Ronald Reagan’s 1985 economic blockade against Nicaragua. U.S. wanted the left-wing Sandinistas ruling the country removed by hook or by crook. The Reagan administration went on to arm the right-wing “Contra” counter-revolutionaries. The U.S. succeeded in destroying the Nicaraguan economy and bringing about a regime change as it planned. Venezuela has been on the top of the U.S.’ hit last for more than a decade and a half.
Since Chavez came to power and the consolidation of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, the U.S. has been working overtime to destabilize the country. One such event was the failed 2002 coup, backed by the then administration of George W. Bush, which collapsed after a massive public outrage against it in Caracas. Taking this failure bad, Washington continued its attempts to subvert the government in slightly more discreet ways by funding the opposition and encouraging violent street protests. Here the so-called socialist parties of U.S. played a lobbying role.
One of the main agenda for Saudi is to punish its two rivals, Russia and Iran, for their direct support to Bashar Al-Assad’s regime in Syria. Saudi Arabia is also wary of increasing ties between Russia and Iran. Since the Syrian civil war, Saudi along with Qatar and Turkey provided arms to Syrian rebel groups, Russia and Iran provided weapons-funds to keep Assad in power.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team