07 February 2019, The Tablet

Venezuela - nowhere left to run


Venezuela - nowhere left to run

A woman appeals to Pope Francis before he celebrates Mass in Abu Dhabi
Photo: CNS, Paul Haring

 

While the West clamours for the government of Nicolás Maduro to step down, on the ground in the beleaguered country a transition of power still seems quite some way away

Breathtaking mismanagement of the economy, a hugely unpopular president, massive demonstrations on the streets, an annual inflation rate estimated in the millions, and now world leaders queuing up to recognise the opposition leader as the interim president pending elections. Surely this potent mix must signal the end of the so-called Bolivarian Revolution that began two decades ago with the election as president of the late Hugo Chávez?

Perhaps. But those who have followed events over the last twenty years might be tempted to describe the situation in Venezuela as one of the most stable crises in modern history.

I remember many other moments when everyone was certain that the end was nigh for the Chavistas. Like April 2002, when Hugo Chávez was briefly removed from power, only to be re-installed amid massive demonstrations by his supporters; or like 2014, when a wave of anti-government protests left over 40 dead and almost 2,000 arrested; or like 2015, when the ruling party and Chávez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, lost control of the legislature by a landslide and impeachment seemed certain, only for the government to push everything down a legal quagmire; or like last year, when a new wave of anti-Maduro demonstrations, sparked by severe food shortages, shortage of medicines and hyperinflation, left over 160 people dead and thousands injured or arrested.

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