A few months ago, I wrote about the beginning of the attempt by the opposition in Venezuela to remove President Maduro from power. That article outlines the referendum process for those who are unsure of what it entails. If the referendum is held this year, and succeeds (which is likely, discussed further below), a new Presidential vote will be triggered. If the vote happens next year then the most that will happen is that Maduro will be replaced by his Vice President, ensuring continuity and Socialist control at least until the next Presidential elections late in 2018. However, regardless of the referendum, the Socialist party may soon find itself removed by the people of Venezuela regardless if living conditions do not improve.
Poverty and hunger have skyrocketed in Maduro’s term, with many in Venezuela surviving only on the occasional mango. Inflation in estimated by the IMF to reach around 700 percent this year, pushing prices beyond the reach of most Venezuelans. But it is not high prices that are the main obstacle, as rarely is food even available to buy. Even with strict rations, few are able to obtain food from supermarkets with shelves bare. Many wait in line for hours, many go home empty handed. The desperation of many Venezuelans is palpable, with trucks carrying food to market being stopped in the streets and looted by the crowds. Venezuela is most definitely in a pre-revolutionary phase. The economy has totally collapsed, food is scarce, people are angry, and the government is out of touch and unable to do anything to stem the growing tide. The government of Venezuela is in a tough position: allow the referendum to be carried out this year and be swept from power through the ballot box, or delay it and be swept from power through popular protest. Either way, it seems unlikely that Venezuela’s Socialist government will remain in power through the end of its current term.
UPDATE: Late yesterday evening, the Wall Street Journal reported that Venezuela’s national electoral agency has released the schedule for the rest of the recall process. The timing of the schedule is reported to make it highly unlikely that the referendum will be carried out this year, thus ensuring two more years of Socialist control of the government. The opposition has vowed to take to the streets to demand a vote this year, but depending on the government’s reaction their demands may grow further.