President Nicolas Maduro has declared a 60-day state of emergency in Venezuela following what he calls an plots by the United States to carry out a coup against him. The announcement follows clashes between protesters and security forces in the South American nation. Maduro took over for Hugo Chavez in 2013 after Chavez died from stomach cancer and has become increasingly unpopular due to the deteriorating economic situation inside the country and perceived corruption and rights abuses.
The Venezuelan economy is suffering from a both a drop in oil prices and mismanagement under Maduro’s continuation of Chavez’s socialist policies.
Petroleum accounts for most of Venezuela’s government revenues and the drop in oil prices has causes severe economic problems. The government cannot afford to cover imports, pay government employees, or service it’s debt. Inflation has reached 700 percent, the highest in the world.
With no money to pay for imports, the situation has caused shortages of basic necessities like food and toilet paper.Electricity and water are also short, resulting in rolling blackouts. This has been made worse by government price fixing, which has created a black market. The result has been long queues reminiscent of the Soviet Union.
The economic and political situation has resulted in protests that have rocked Venezuela for almost two years. Riot police and the national guard have been deployed and have been accused of using excessive force against demonstrators. Tactics like Beatings, detentions and the use of live ammunition have reportedly been used.
While Maduro lost the elections late last year he has been unwilling to step down and the opposition to his rule has been growing. U.S intelligence believes that the situation has become bad enough that Maduro could fall by the end of the year by popular uprising; before the presidential recall process can be finished.
Blaming internal and external enemies like industry and the United States for the deteriorating situation inside the country may have been popular before the crisis, the tactic seems to be wearing thin with Maduro’s shrinking pool of supporters. The people of Venezuela seem to have had enough drinking the anti-imperialist Kool-Aid.
The collapse of Venezuela could have fear reaching implications for the U.S. If political violence breaks out it could result in a refugee situation. The Maduro government could also take extreme measures to stay in power, like mobilizing forces against the population. In a worst case scenario the country may require outside intervention to stabilize it if the transition to a new government fails.