Venezuela Coverage and Analysis
Find all of our Venezuela stories here, from the current crisis to the early days of The Real News Network
The U.S. imposed sanctions on President Nicolas Maduro after his sweeping victory in an election UN Ambassador Nikki Haley calls “another step towards a dictatorship.” TRNN discusses the implications with author Steve Ellner and historian Miguel Tinker Salas
Lucas Koerner of Venezuelanalysis.com says the death toll and violence are on the rise but according to the Attorney General’s reports more of these deaths are being instigated and attributed to opposition supporters
Media analyst Joe Emersberger takes apart recent international media coverage of Venezuela, which is openly siding with the country’s opposition in portraying the government as a dictatorship
Empire Files host Abby Martin just returned from Venezuela where she saw first hand how violent opposition protesters attempt to intimidate reporters and thereby give a false impression of what is happening
Mark Weisbrot, of CEPR, argues that the Organization of American States is not a true multilateral body because the US largely controls it, often against the interests of individual member states
While international media focused almost exclusively on the opposition protests and clashes with the police, the pro-government protests were equally as large, says Lucas Koerner from Venezuelanalysis
Clashes between protesters and police continued throughout the week in Venezuela, but polls indicate that the government is recuperating popularity and most Venezuelans disagree with opposition tactics says Lucas Koerner of Venezuelanalysis.com
Efforts to invoke the OAS Democratic Charter against Venezuela would only lead to more confrontation in Venezuela says Steve Ellner
Venezuela’s Supreme Court ratified a decision to invalidate the legislature, causing many to call the government a dictatorship. However, this move actually was the result of an opposition trap, says TRNN’s Gregory Wilpert
The National Assembly does not have the constitutional power to remove a president from Venezuela, nor does the opposition have the right to launch a recall with illegal signatures, says George Ciccariello-Maher
The government is struggling to provide basic needs for its people due to an informal banking embargo centered around the United States, says Lucas Koerner of Venezuelanalysis
Venezuelans are hoping for the political process to follow the constitution, says Jeanette Charles of Venezuela Analysis
Massive opposition protests cannot change the fact that the National Electoral Council is under constitutional obligations that will prevent it from moving the recall referendum to this year, says journalist Jeanette Charles
Steve Ellner: The image of Venezuela as an oppressive failed state is really very far from what’s happening on the ground.
Gabriel Hetland & Rachael Boothroyd say that the crisis in Venezuela is real, but the international media descriptions of horror stories are far from representative of the real situation on the ground
The Venezuela opposition is taking the next step in its recall referendum against President Nicholas Maduro. The opposition claimed it has submitted nearly 2 million signatures, which are undergoing a verification process. Once verified, it will need 4 million signatures within a few days, or 20 percent of the electorate, in order to move forward to the referendum. The opposition seeks to hold the referendum before January 10, 2017. If it can remove Maduro before the last two years of his term, Maduro will not be allowed to transfer power to Vice President Jorge Arreaza. Meanwhile, the collapse in oil prices earlier this year had seriously impaired the ability of the government to import goods, though the recent raise in prices is easing the shortage of goods. The introduction of a semi-floating exchange rate, which TRNN’s Gregory Wilpert calls “a major achievement of the government,” has helped lessen inflation and shortages. “One of the causes of inflation and the shortages was the increasing gap between the official exchange rates and the black market exchange rates, which was giving people tremendous incentive to profit over that differential,” said Wilpert. “Although, I don’t think it’s enough, because the basic incentive of the black market is still there.” Wilpert said the decision to implement the exchange rate came late because Maduro is stuck between those who want to solve the crisis by the nationalize the economy and others who believe the state should accommodate itself to the global market economy.
Several Latin American nations are concerned that The Organization of American States Secretary General Luis Almagro could become an “an instrument of the [US] state department…to intervene in the internal affairs of member states,” says Alex Main of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. On June 1, Almagro convened a meeting of the OAS permanent council in Washington, DC to invoke the Democratic Charter of the OAS against Venezuela. The charter allows the OAS to intervene when there are serious concerns with the democratic order of member states. The OAS secretary general tried to push for a “revocatory referendum” by the end of the year that would prevent Venezuelan president Nicholas Maduro from handing power to vice president Aristobulo Isturiz in the case of a successful recall effort. But the member states “completely disregarded his recommendations and instead called for a national dialogue,” says Main. “They completely ignored the appeal that Secretary General Luis Almagro made for much more intense intervention in Venezuela’s internal political affairs.” Main says there is “double standard of the [US] state department when it comes to Brazil versus Venezuela. The disruption of left-wing and independent government is “the overarching strategy of the US in Latin America,” says Main.
The U.S. government is in “full regime change mode” and waging “an economic and political war against Venezuela,” says Mark Weisbrot, economist for the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Weisbrot also says the idea that Venezuela is a threat to U.S. national security is “ridiculous.” Despite oil prices having risen to $50 a barrel, Venezuela is undergoing an economic crisis in part due to an inflation spiral. The country has “to change it’s system of relative prices” and “subsidize the majority of people with low cost food and other essential items directly instead of trying to do it indirectly through the exchange rate. That’s the most basic reform they need,” says Weisbrot. He also recommends unifying the exchange rate to eliminate the black market for dollars, which is worsening inflation. Opposition parties have taken initial steps to recall President Nicholas Maduro. However, from 2002 to 2013, the country saw “an enormous reduction in poverty and improvement in living standards, and that’s why the government still has a base of support,” says Weisbrot.
Steve Ellner says deep discontent across the political spectrum in Venezuela is creating a political vacuum