Just when you think that the situation in Venezuela cannot possibly get any worse, it appears that President Maduro has once again managed to escalate the already dire situation.
As Venezuela’s economy continues to plummet, it was announced at the end of last month that the country’s largest food and beverage supplier, the Polar Group, would be halting the production of beer. The decision to discontinue beer production came as a result of government mismanagement, which has made barley harder and harder to obtain. As other necessities like food, medicine, and toilet paper have already been in short supply, adding beer to this list only served to escalate the civil unrest in Venezuela.
Avoiding any responsibility for the situation, President Maduro announced this weekend that there will be new policies enacted for Venezuelan businesses who have halted production, like the Polar Group. The new emergency decree would allow the government to confiscate the property of any company who has halted production during this time of economic turmoil, regardless of why they have done so. Additionally, business owners guilty of stopping production would be sent to prison.
The Polar Group’s owner, Lorenzo Mendoza, has been a vocal opponent of Maduro and his policies, which has led Maduro to accuse Mendoza of political sabotage. Though it may seem obvious that Mendoza’s decision to stop the production of beer was a direct result of the president’s economic policies, clearly Maduro does not view it in this light.
Addressing the sea of red-clad onlookers, President Maduro said Saturday, “Anyone who wants to halt (production) to sabotage the country should get out, and those who do must be handcuffed and sent to the PGV (Venezuelan General Penitentiary).”
Since he is sure to meet backlash from a country that is literally starving and losing its patience with Maduro’s economic policies, the president is planning a military exercise scheduled for next Saturday in an attempt to, “prepare ourselves for any scenario.” Though the president claims this exercise will not turn into an “armed intervention,” many Venezuelans question his motives.
As tensions continue to rise to a boiling point, Maduro’s opposition is accusing him of instituting this new decree in attempt to destabilize the country, making it harder for any organized effort to successfully recall Maduro from office.
Currently, the president’s opposition has launched an effort to remove Maduro from office by collecting 1.8 million signatures in support of a recall vote. However, even though the signatures were successfully obtained, government authorities have been stalling to act, which should come as no surprise since they all report to Maduro.
During an opposition rally held on the east side of the country’s capital at the same time as President Maduro’s rally, 1000 protesters gathered clad in the colors of their country’s flag. Opposition leader, Henrique Capriles issued this warning to President Maduro:
“Venezuela is a bomb that could explode any minute, if you block the democratic path, we don’t know what could happen.”
As looting and rioting continued all through last week, it is clear that the country is losing its ability to control the situation. During last week’s supermarket riots, where many Venezuelans looted stores in search of food, two were left dead and many were left wounded.
Unfortunately, there are no signs of economic recovery in the near future, which means these riots are sure to continue and even escalate as more and more citizens grow hungry and desperate for essential supplies.
As the young American left continues to champion the rise of socialist policies in our own country, many are left wondering if these idealistic collectivists are really prepared for the realities of socialism.
Though these misguided youth view socialism as the answer to all of our nation’s problems, many Venezuelans see it as the primary cause of their economic woes and the reason their cupboards and stomachs remain empty.