Venezuela’s Anti-government Protests

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Thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets in Caracas on Wednesday, protesting President Nicolás Maduro.

At least six Venezuelans have already died this month in what have been the biggest anti-government protests since 2014.

General Motors says Venezuela illegally seized one of its plants.

Maduro recently tried to use the Supreme Court to limit the power of the legislature, and the socialist country has been slammed by a devastating economic crisis, resulting in food shortages and increased crime. Despite having the largest proven oil reserves in the world, Venezuela is fast running out of cash, and its people have struggled for years with food and medical shortages, coupled with skyrocketing prices.

March 29, the Venezuelan Supreme Court dissolved the parliament, transferring all legislative powers to itself. By doing away with the opposition-controlled legislative branch, the move effectively meant the remaining two branches of Venezuelan government were controlled by Maduro’s ruling United Socialist Party. The opposition was outraged and called the move a coup. The decision was reversed three days later, but protests had already erupted.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro salutes Monday during Bolivarian militia celebrations in Caracas.

“We’re after and will capture the very last of the attackers,” Maduro said Saturday on national TV. “You all know that I don’t fool around. When I go after criminals, I get them, and I will capture all of these criminals who are getting their orders from the right-wingers.”
In a show of force Monday, Maduro paraded the streets of Caracas surrounded by men and women in uniform. The military has also vowed its full support to Maduro.

Annual inflation in crisis-hit Venezuela last year reached 274 percent, according to data the central bank provided to the International Monetary Fund, although many economists believe the true figure is far more alarming.

In the midst of a bruising economic crisis, the leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro has not published inflation data for more than a year.

Venezuelan consultancy Ecoanalitica says inflation was 525 percent last year and New York-based investment bank Torino Capital – using one popular food item as a proxy – put it at 453 percent.

Purchasing power has eroded and salaries annihilated as a result. On the black market, $1,000 in savings when Maduro was elected in 2013 would now be worth less than $5.

The bolivar currency fell further against the U.S. dollar on Thursday and is now at its lowest value ever against the dollar, down 99.5 percent since Maduro came to power.

Venezuela was also the worst-performing economy in the world last year, when the country’s gross domestic product collapsed by 18 percent amid a currency collapse and a surge of hyperinflation. The IMF estimates that the country’s inflation rate in 2017 will average around 43,000 percent.

 

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