Venezuelan ELECTION: President Maduro promises 'economic war' on 'imperialist gringos'
Ahead of next week’s election, Mr Maduro has once again asserted his determination to win the “economic war” which has plunged more than 90 percent of citizens in his once-wealthy country into abject poverty.
The unpopular president is seeking a second term in office despite an economic and social explosion in the oil-rich country. Global markets face a lose-lose situation with a likely Mr Maduro victory presenting the leader with a mandate for his failing regime, but a loss to opposition leader Henri Falcón could spark civil war.
Mr Maduro said last week in Vargas that if a government handed Venezuela’s “riches” to the “imperialist gringos”, he would “be the first one to raise the alarm, grab a gun and start an armed revolution with the people, if necessary.”
Despite millions suffering from empty food shops and medicine shortages, Mr Maduro is expected to win in next week’s vote due to widespread abstention. The primary opposition parties are boycotting the election, calling it a sham.
President Maduro told a Socialist Party event yesterday: “If you hand me victory on May 20, I swear I will end the economic war.”
The “economic war” in Venezuela is now at the apex of a socioeconomic and political crisis that Venezuela has undergone since Hugo Chávez’s tenure.
Between 2013 and 2017, the oil-rich nation’s gross domestic product contracted more aggressively that the economies of the US during the Great Depression, and the fall of Communism in Russia, Cuba, and Albania.
During 2016 the scarcity of food and basic goods led to an approximate 800 percent rise in consumer goods, while job losses and a fall in industrial output shrank the economy by over 18 percent.
According to study published on 2018 by three Venezualan universities, almost 90 percent of the Venezuelan population now lives in poverty and as the economic downturn bites, the murder rate of 90 per 100,000 people, remains on the rise according to the Observatory of Venezuelan Violence.
However, the President has told his critics, “you’ll get your comeuppance in a week’s time,” he told supporters yesterday after accusing the business community of raising prices in recent days in order to create more discontent among voters.
Although data on the country’s plight is strangled by the ruling party, the opposition National Assembly estimates that annual inflation is currently at more than 13,000 percent in the year to April. Critics blame strict price and currency controls for the mess.
As part of his so-called “economic war”, government officials are visiting pharmacies and supermarkets in Caracas and will sanction vendors for selling at high prices.
Last week, the government took over the country’s largest private bank and arrested 11 top executives, as part of an operation that seeks to curb black market foreign exchange trades.
However not everyone in attendance are convinced that his efforts are pointed in the right direction.
Aparicio Teran, a 49-year-old peasant farmer, told reporters at a recent rally: “I came to see what he would say about fixing the economy.
“I’m leaving without hearing anything about credits, fertilisers, herbicides, fungicides, food for the cows. We can’t go on like this.
“All we can look forward to is hunger.”
Venezuela goes to the polls on May 20 and President Maduro, the 55-year-old former bus driver and foreign minister is expected to coast to victory.
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