“Truth has little to do with it. What will determine the outcome is what the Army decides to do in the next few days and weeks.”
This weekend marks a historic demonstration on the part of Venezuela’s Government: the largest military exercises to have ever been held in the country. The significance of the event is much larger, though, as it may reveal some of the country’s future direction, as in whether it is simply in a state of political and economic crisis, or if civil war may be imminent. The decision to put on such a large demonstration was made by President Nicolas Maduro, who is facing a public clamoring for a referendum to impeach him. Maduro called for a state of emergency in mid-May, allowing for greater liberty to impose civic order and economic control, a decision affirmed constitutional by the country’s Supreme Court. In respect to Venezuela’s social, economic, political, and ecological state, there is certainly reason for alarm. Nevertheless, protesters have been less than pleased with the response of the government to their efforts, including the use of riot squads and violent methods. Many blame this crisis on Maduro and the generally ineffective government in place, whereas the President attributes the struggles to conservative and industrial forces intervening and promoting propaganda, along with the United States’ “imperialism.” It is important to note, however, that Maduro took over an office already crumbling under the power of former President Hugo Chavez. Venezuela has overly relied upon the export of natural resources, predominantly in the oil industry, but all of the wealth formerly accumulated from such gains withered away in the wake of corruption and ideological economic practices. After 17 years of this, Venezuela now faces an inflation rate of about 300%, 70% of the population living below the poverty line, and rampant violence. Depending upon what the army does in the upcoming days and weeks, the future of Venezuela is in a dire state of limbo.