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Venezuelan opposition call for mass protests
October 24, 2016, 1:48 pm

As the economy deteriorates, Venezuelans are increasingly livid with the government and may want Maduro gone [Xinhua]

As the economy deteriorates, Venezuelans are increasingly livid with the government and may want Maduro gone [Xinhua]

Venezuela’s opposition-led National Assembly on Sunday blasted the National Electoral Council’s decision to halt a drive to hold a recall referendum on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

During an emergency session, National Assembly members accused Maduro of orchestrating a coup d’etat and said they would try and bring him to trial.

They also said the Council’s decision amounted to a breach of constitutional law and order.

Federal courts claimed to find incidences of voter fraud from earlier this summer that would invalidate a subsequent round of signature-gathering in support of the referendum due to take place next week.

Meanwhile, members of the opposition are livid, urging people to take to the streets en masse to protest this decision.

“Yesterday in Venezuela there was a coup d’état. There is no other way to call it. What we feared so much was hatched,” said opposition leader and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles at a press conference earlier in the weak.

“We’ll remain peaceful, but we will not be taken for fools. We must defend our country.”

Polls suggest that there is wide discontentment with Maduro’s government, as crippling food shortages of basic goods plague the country.

Facing a fiscal debacle that is only set to worsen and an inflation rate that has surprised even the most pessimistic of forecasters as it nears 1,000 per cent, Venezuela is now entering one of the worst economic crises in the history of Latin America.

The IMF now predicts an inflation rate of near 1,700 per cent.

In just the past year, food protests have increased exponentially as prices skyrocketed.

The crime rate has soared with violent robberies taking place including hundreds of looting incidents.

Venezuelans now face multiple daily power outages while businesses shut down and factory output drops significantly.

Even for those who can afford to buy food, staple scarcity has become a major challenge for the government.

Venezuela has been unable to sufficiently import its most basic needs as the drastic drop in oil prices since 2014 has created an enormous financial shortfall. Oil revenues have fallen from nearly $90 billion to about $20 billion as foreign debt has mushroomed to $140 billion or so.

Venezuela, like some emerging economies, has based nearly its entire GDP growth on oil exports. With an oil glut now entering its third year, the International Monetary Fund forecasts that inflation in 2016 will hit more than 720 per cent and that the economy will contract by 8 per cent.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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