May 2016 – VENEZUELA – The leader of Venezuela’s political opposition openly called on the country’s military to make a choice between the country’s constitution and Nicolas Maduro, the country’s president, ratcheting up a political showdown that comes as the country’s economy is imploding. The BBC reported Wednesday that opposition leader Henrique Capriles accused Maduro of “putting himself above the constitution” by imposing emergency powers on the oil-rich nation. “I tell the armed forces: The hour of truth is coming, to decide whether you are with the constitution or with Maduro,” Capriles said.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro last week declared a national 60-day state of emergency that gives the military greater powers, ostensibly so it can deal with the country’s spiraling economic crisis. The National Assembly, which is led by Venezuela’s political opposition, on late Tuesday voted to reject Maduro’s decree.
Maduro responded by saying he would ignore the Assembly’s decision. He said the Assembly had lost is “political validity” and predicted its disappearance, according to the BBC’s account. Maduro regularly characterizes his political opponents as fascists, insisting that they operate under the influence of the United States government and shadowy international media.
Regular Venezuelans face shortages of even basic consumer goods, and the national currency has collapsed. The IMF predicted earlier this year that Venezuela’s inflation rate will rise to 720 percent in 2016. The consensus among most observers is that Venezuela’s economy was undone by the policies of Maduro’s mentor, Hugo Chavez, coupled with the more recent collapse in global oil prices. Chavez relied heavily on the country’s state-dominated oil industry to generate revenue that he then spent lavishly on social programs and consumer subsidies. Chavez died in 2013. –CNBC