Venezuela’s opposition will use yesterday’s implementation of sweeping economic reforms to coordinate strikes and protests across the country today, increasing the likelihood of violent clashes with security forces in urban centres.
The leftist Maduro administration rolled out a raft of reforms on Monday, including a 3000% minimum wage hike, a new currency and increased tax rates. Most analysts say the measures—designed to combat rampant inflation and a shortage of basic goods—will aggravate the country’s economic troubles. This increases the risk of a humanitarian crisis in a country where three quarters of the population lost at least 8 kilograms in just one year.
The economic calamity is heaping pressure on the government. On August 4, President Maduro was subject to an assassination attempt, with two high-level military officers subsequently arrested. The development suggests increasing dissatisfaction amongst the armed forces—Maduro’s primary power base. Mr Maduro has used the assassination attempt to justify a purge of opposition elements in the military.
If the president continues to ostracise factions within the armed forces and proves unable to improve Venezuela’s economic fortunes, he is unlikely to see out his six-year term he secured in rigged elections this May.
A coup is most likely to originate from the country’s security forces—either current or former—whose morale has been ground down by ever-smaller paychecks and the need to put down frequent protests, sometimes violently.
Simon is the founder of Foreign Brief who served as managing director from 2015 to 2021. A lawyer by training, Simon has worked as an analyst and adviser in the private sector and government. Simon’s desire to help clients understand global developments in a contextualised way underpinned the establishment of Foreign Brief. This aspiration remains the organisation’s driving principle.