Nicolás Maduro Fast Facts 2017
The first Venezuelan elections in more than half a century have taken place yesterday, with only a record turnout and a few thousand voting cards to go before the country has more than a week of a new government. The new Supreme Court, created by one of Hugo Chávez’s cronies, President Maduro, is a far cry from the collegiality of the Chávez era and the popular participation and diversity that were hallmarks of the Bolivarian Revolution.
In this year of unprecedented change and upheaval, Nicolás Maduro is an unlikely politician, who finds himself in a position that he never had in his life, but also one that he has never been in before. He has to face his worst nightmare: the Venezuelan people.
1. Nicolás Maduro came to power in 2015 because of an economic crisis; Maduro and his government are responsible for a second-longer economic crisis.
Venezuela is now in the midst of a second crisis, this time one of political economy. In Venezuela there is a general economic malaise in which food and fuel prices rise sharply, the government fails to pay for basic services and the economy slows down.
The government blames this economic malaise on US-backed opposition protesters. In fact, there has been a sharp rise in inflation in the past year, with food and fuel prices increasing by a factor of five. More importantly, Maduro has not paid for the price rises that the government has imposed on basic services, in effect starving Venezuelans as the price of basic food and medicine has increased by 50%.
When the government blames the price rise on “the opposition”, this masks a much larger problem: over-reliance on oil, which is heavily subsidised in Venezuela. The oil price rise has led to the loss of jobs, to a falling of real wages in the manufacturing sector and to a significant weakening of the manufacturing sector as production in the industrial sector is shifted to the South, where inflation is lower.
The government has also been unable to sell some of its most important assets