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Venezuela’s president is facing increasing pressure as the crumbling economy affects hospital care and other basic services.
Inflation has risen so dramatically in Venezuela the government can no longer afford to print more currency. Lines at supermarkets are lengthening even as the goods available dwindle further. Coca-Cola bottling plants have shutdown for lack of sugar. Public schools are closed on Fridays.
Venezuela’s economy is almost entirely dependent on oil exports. Falling oil initially affected the country’s poorest citizens. But as the government’s reserves dwindle and some goods become unavailable even for wealthier Venezuelans, protests have intensified.
President Nicolas Maduro’s opponents have collected enough signatures to trigger a referendum on his presidency. They clashed with riot police earlier this month when Maduro declared a state of emergency, granting himself broader executive power.
Under Venezuelan law, if Maduro is removed in the last two years of his presidency, his vice president will be promoted to finish the term. If Maduro’s opponents can force the vote before the end of the year, there would be an entirely new election in which opposition parties could also run.
Even if Maduro is removed from office, how can Venezuela’s political system, dominated by 17 years of authoritarian rule, be repaired? According to Transparency International, Venezuela is the most corrupt country in the western hemisphere. What will it take to return stability to Venezuela?
In this episode of The Stream, we speak with:
Keane Bhatt @keanebhatt
Political analyst and writer
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.