With a month left until Venezuela’s pivotal parliamentary elections, the country has been jolted by accusations that the government’s case against a top opposition leader was a sham. Meanwhile, President Nicolas Maduro is vowing that he will not surrender power under any circumstances. The stage is now set for the country’s already turbulent political environment to become even more dangerously unstable.
Despite the highly charged political rhetoric, it is not politics but basic subsistence needs that dominate the concerns of most Venezuelans. Shortages of all manner of basic goods, triple-digit inflation and off-the-charts crime rates have made life a daily struggle. The economy is expected to shrink by about 10 percent this year, making it the country’s worst recession in 70 years, although the projections are complicated by the government’s failure to release basic economic data.
Inept economic policies had already wreaked havoc even before global oil prices collapsed, squeezing government finances to the breaking point. Now the state has resorted to selling gold reserves to pay its bills.