The Venezuelan Crisis
WHAT IS THE CRISIS?
“Repressive regimes do not endure change willingly and Venezuela is no exception”.
This statement made by politician Leopoldo Lopez is a limpid reflection of the socioeconomic and political crisis in Venezuela, the origin of which can be traced back to mid-2010. The once prosperous and flourishing oil-rich nation is reeling under multiple malices viz hyperinflation, a depreciating currency, unemployment, starvation, scarcity of essentials, crime, etc. All of these resulted in a continuous exodus of people in large numbers from the country.
WHAT LED TO THIS?
At the heart of the crisis was the nation’s rather volatile political history .The pre-90s era was dominated by the elite rightist political establishments that were completely agnostic to the needs of the common man .This led to many political coups which gave way to extreme leftists .They indulged in populous measures that proved detrimental to the fiscal health of the country. The presidency of popular leftist leader Hugo Chavez in the late 90s, adopted for example a completely import-oriented food policy which inflicted irreparable damage to the domestic food production. The large oil revenue was thus spent on imports rather than on sustainable developmental measures. This together with draconian capital and price controls led to acute scarcity of essentials and quintessentially to hyperinflation followed by other economic and social malices viz unemployment, poverty, etc.
The political turmoil of the nation had aggravated under the political successor of Chavez, Nicholàs Maduro. Maduro being less popular typically had to resort to more and more authoritarian measures to stay in power. In fact he could be in office only after a highly rigged election where a major section of the opposition did not even cast their votes. His measures clamped down severely on the media, opposition leaders and civil movements. These decimated any hope for a transparent and democratic political regime which was the need of the hour for the nation. This eroded the country’s global image in front of International bodies such as the UN, the Inter-American Commission, etc.
The current global pandemic and the crash in the oil prices have further exacerbated the already frail economy. The need of the hour is a strong and reliable political regime with the will to roll out structural reforms that can cater to the aspirations of its country men. As of now, the National Assembly leader, Juan Guiadò proffers some hope in this direction, though one cannot be sure .Without a visionary government the future of the nation would continue to be bleak.
~ Sharat Salil