Yesterday’s declaration by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro of a state of economic emergency in Venezuela is a tactical maneuver by Maduro to forestall changes championed by the new democratic opposition majority in the National Assembly — most notably their intention to get rid of Maduro himself. Last month’s election victory of the coalition of democratic opposition parties, which wrested control of the National Assembly away from the 17 year domination by the socialists, portends what many Venezuelans hope will be significant change. Venezuela does seem to be at the early stages of a transition to what many Venezuelans hope will be a departure from not only the government-sponsored violence against its own people, skyrocketing violent crime, the highest inflation rate in the world, the lack of basic goods and foodstuffs, endemic corruption, etc; but also to a more competent political leadership and economic stewardship.
There are major challenges to this victory for democracy in Venezuela, however. The ruling PSUV (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela) is doing all it can to maintain its monopoly on power, as Maduro’s move yesterday illustrates. PSUV actions have included stacking the Supreme Court with hardcore chavistas, which court then challenged the election of several democratic opposition National Assembly members in an attempt to eliminate the supermajority the opposition legitimately won in the December election. The military, after defending the election results and refusing to collaborate with Maduro and then National Assembly Speaker Diosdado Cabello in stealing the election, has now appeared to bow to what must be tremendous pressure being applied by the chavistas and has declared its support for Maduro in the face of opposition determination to remove him.