Throughout his four years in office, Nicolás Maduro has implemented policies meant to maintain power.
Throughout his four years in office, Nicolás Maduro has implemented policies meant to maintain power. And in a thoroughly flawed election Friday, those policies earned him a blank check to turn around the national economy and push forward his consolidation of power.
To note Maduro’s rule highlights some very interesting developments during his time in office. Venezuela’s economy collapsed, the country’s economy became a shadow of what it was in 1998 and, according to some, it was this economic meltdown that helped the late Hugo Chávez galvanize the nation. Hugo Chávez was considered a hero after he won a controversial election in 1998 — after having mobilized his supporters with catchy slogans like “Open the Refineries” and “Chávez Sucre.”
They are big dreams and the system is not going to let them happen. The overwhelming mandate the national assembly gave Maduro, who is said to be a part of a mafia syndicate, further symbolizes how fractured the Venezuelan government and people have become.
A car rolls by and tries to stop. We see the parking spot that’s been blocked. An angry figure steps out from behind the truck. “No, you cannot park here. No you cannot,” he says, pushing against the car. He seems to be trying to scare the young woman and her friend. The two do not move. Then we see someone in the crowd grab the woman and hit her. We wait for the guy to be arrested but the police arrive with shields. The man with the truck is seen walking away with a smile on his face. And I’m thinking, never mind, we just kicked this woman out of her car because of her age, her car had blocked the spot, what was the lesson?
Venezuela and its economic collapse is no surprise to those who have followed the Chávez era. The country was fully exposed to the vagaries of capitalism and used to a dictatorial government that did not give back to the people its oil revenue.
“Venezuela’s oil wealth was built by me and my neighbors, my friends. We had enough money and we could buy it,” Maduro said this week.
This struggle with the natural resources Venezuela has provided for more than a century continues, and there are better ways to deal with it. But the most important thing to remember is that there is a core of people who believe their oil is the reason they have gotten by. The only way to get out of this mess is to create a fair and free economy and economic system in Venezuela.
From 1998 to 2014, Chavez fulfilled many of the promises made by the 1992 uprising that brought him to power and turned Venezuela into an oil-powered socialist economy that has failed for the past 20 years.
Chávez did many good things for the Venezuelan people. He created the Bolivarian Movement of Venezuela and was able to move the country away from heavy military ties to the United States. But his victories — his move toward socialism that has failed for more than 20 years — have transformed the country into a chaotic nightmare.
“The revolution has really failed. It is now a society that is hungry, that wants to flee and that has real uncertainty about what it will become,” Carlos Vecchio, president of Caracas-based hedge fund firm BondsProspector, told the Wall Street Journal.
Chávez was never able to hand over his benefits to his people. This contributed to the disillusionment and resentment many citizens feel toward the socialist policies. Citizens feel Venezuela is too dependent on a mono-economy reliant on oil to continue. They are looking for economic freedom, economic independence and a government they believe provides the best representation of the common people.
Friday’s election shows Maduro’s workers have paid for their power with their votes. And his people sent a clear message that they are the winner and they believe the only way to safeguard the country’s economic future is to keep the lines of control a step to his left. And Friday’s election demonstrated once again what this means.
This post has been updated to reflect the names of those killed in a car bombing late Friday night, which occurred at a clinic at a junction in western Caracas.