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Venezuela Heads Down the Dark Road to Dictatorship

August 2, 2017
Plain English Version

A demonstration against Maduro.

A rigged referendum is all it takes. Some Venezuelans went to the polls last Sunday. They voted for a national assembly to rewrite the constitution. The new constitution would give absolute power to the president. If this sounds like Turkey’s recent vote, it is because it is much the same.

President Trump sent congratulations to the Turkish president. The U.S. slapped sanctions on the president of Venezuela. The difference is politics. Turkey is an ally of the U.S. in the Middle East.

It is not good today to be a Turk or a Venezuelan.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro made an address to the nation. He said the assembly would not just rewrite the country's constitution. He said it will become "a power that's above and beyond every other."

As an example, he said the new assembly will strip lawmakers of protection from arrest. He said, “The opposition already has its prison cell waiting. All the criminals will go to prison for the crimes they've committed."

The crimes committed are in the name of democracy and liberty. Freedoms Venezuelans once enjoyed. The country began its downward slope when it elected Hugo Chávez . He was a visionary in the model of Fidel Castro. Except that Chávez had oil.

In the end, corruption and sinking oil prices ruined his vision. He died in 2013 and left the looming disaster to Nicholas Maduro. Under Maduro, Venezuela headed to hunger, super inflation, terrible crime, and anarchy.

Two years ago, the people voted the opposition in to run the Parliament. That was the beginning of the end. Maduro could not stand it.

The European Union (EU) and the United States declared Sunday’s vote a “sham.”

What is next? It looks like the EU will not impose sanctions on Venezuela right now. The U.S. has some sanctions in place. It announced new sanctions against Maduro.

The most serious sanction has not taken place. That is a ban on Venezuelan oil shipments to the U.S. A more likely future sanction is a ban on U.S. exports of lighter U.S. crude oil. This is the oil that Venezuela needs to mix with its heavy crude oil to make it ready for sale.

What will the Venezuelan opposition do? What will Venezuela do as it faces bankruptcy?

Things are likely to get worse before they get better.

Source: The New York Times August 1, 2017

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