Venezuela is at the breaking point. Its failed socialist system is imploding. Venezuela’s economy is in a free fall, a classic example of how top-down centralized government control ends up making conditions worse for virtually everyone except the autocrats running the show. Venezuela’s embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, is facing a determined opposition that is conducting a general strike and a mass protest this week.
Tensions have been building for months, but the country is approaching a critical juncture as Maduro plans to go ahead with a sham “election” on Sunday to choose 545 members for a body known as the Constituent Assembly. This new body would be empowered to rewrite the country’s constitution, which the opposition sees as a way for Maduro to consolidate his autocratic powers even further. The sham “election” of the Constituent Assembly members is procedurally stacked in such a way that Maduro will almost certainly get a pliant assembly to do his bidding. This move has not only angered the opposition, which has called for a boycott of Sunday’s election, but it has split Maduro’s own ranks. On July 4, 2017, Venezuelan Attorney General Luisa Ortega, a so-called Chavista, strongly denounced Maduro’s plan for a re-write of the constitution.
The opposition controls the National Assembly, which is trying to choose judges for Venezuela’s Supreme Court who are not Maduro loyalists. The Supreme Court back in March had announced that it was taking over the powers of the National Assembly in a blatant bid to suppress the opposition politically. While the Supreme Court reversed its decision a few days later, the move increased distrust in Maduro’s government. Maduro exacerbated the distrust when his intelligence forces began arresting judges appointed by the opposition. He has threatened to arrest more.
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