Venezuela: on a road to nowhere

Venezuela: on a road to nowhere

Venezuela’s imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has called for fresh anti-government protests to be held on Saturday. Since 2014, the

Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Photo: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Venezuela’s imprisoned opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has called for fresh anti-government protests to be held on Saturday.

Since 2014, the Maduro government has come under mounting pressure from the opposition to hold early elections. The country faces the worst economic crisis in its modern history, with inflation figures around 800% and the economy shrinking by 18.6%.  Women have been asked not to use hairdryers to save electricity, and staples of the Venezuelan diet – basics like meat, beans and rice – are becoming increasingly scarce.

An increasing number of Venezuelans attribute these problems to the government’s incompetence and corruption; President Maduro blames “foreign agents” – a veiled reference to the US.

The Venezuelan leader recently reshuffled his cabinet in an effort to overcome the crisis. With talks between the governments and opposition having broken down, prospects for a peaceful regime change appear bleak. As the IMF predicts new record inflation rates and a further economic downturn for 2017, future protests may spark sustained violence.