‘Venezuela economic crisis rooted in oil dependency’
Chaos and violence continue to grip Venezuela as the country is plunging into a political and humanitarian crisis. On Friday, the streets of the capital Caracas were once again the scene of anti-government demonstrations which resulted in the arrest of more than 60 students. Anti-government rallies have plagued the country for the past three months. Following is a synopsis of Press TV’s interview with Javier Farje, a Latin America expert, and Robert Valencia, a political commentator, about the root causes of Venezuela’s social crisis.
Robert Valencia maintains that the ongoing social crisis in Venezuela has in fact been triggered by an economic crisis which resulted from the oil-oriented policies of former president Hugo Chavez, and was aggravated by the policies of President Nicolas Maduro which continued along the same lines.
“This is not a problem that happened overnight. This is something that we have seen under Hugo Chavez and a regime we call ‘Chavismo’ that has been in power for more than 15 years,” Valencia said.
Venezuela has been the scene of intense anti-government protests for nearly three months. Clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters have left almost 80 people dead and 1,300 wounded so far.
The unrest was aggravated in early April after Venezuela’s Supreme Court decided to annul the powers of the opposition-controlled parliament. The move was regarded as a violation of the constitution. The decision was later revoked, but the protests have only continued.
According to the analyst, Venezuela has been looking for help especially from countries like Russia and from economic cartels such as OPEC to increase oil prices. But in the absence of any such help, the economic situation has been deteriorating.
Valencia suggested that other Latin American countries need to step in and prevent the escalation of the situation in Venezuela.
The opposition, which blames Maduro for the county’s severe hyperinflation and widespread shortages of basic supplies, has been calling for an early presidential election meant to oust the president.
“The region, the Latin America in this case, should not remain strange from the situation, should not isolate itself. Venezuela is suffering from a deep humanitarian crisis and the countries on the western hemisphere need to take action,” he advised.
“I am not saying that a military intervention is necessary but the fact that people are starving and they don’t have their basic needs should be a big red flag for all the countries in the region,” he explained.
Meanwhile, the other guest on the program Javier Farje agreed with Robert Valencia with regard to the deficiencies facing Venezuela’s economy, saying that a total reliance on oil revenues has made things difficult for the country in a situation wherein the oil market is experiencing a massive drop.
He said he believes that the peaceful protests of the Venezuelan people are being taken over by certain foreign-backed radical elements who favor chaos and violence.
“We don’t have legitimate protests any more. Many people in Venezuela are protesting peacefully, but most of the violence in Venezuela has happened at the hands of violent thugs who seem to have taken over the protests at the expense of moderate elements in the opposition,” Farje noted.
The Caracas government says the protests are incited by the Unites Stated to remove Maduro from power and has accused the opposition of hiring armed gangs. The opposition, too, has claimed that the government has recruited criminal gangs to intimidate protesters.