In the midst of a severe political and economic crisis in Venezuela, supporters and detractors of President Nicolás Maduro demonstrated on Wednesday amid fears of destabilization and violence.
These are five leading subjects of the tense Venezuelan situation, which has generated international concern.
-Nicolás Maduro: Elected as president in April 2013 to succeed his mentor Hugo Chávez, who died in March of that year, Maduro faces strong pressure from food and medicine shortages, compounded by falling oil prices. The 54-year-old former bus driver has the support of state institutions, except for the Parliament or Legislative Assembly, controlled by the opposition since January 2016.
-Henrique Capriles: Governor of Miranda state (north) and defeated by Maduro in 2013 by a narrow margin of 1.5 percentage points. This 44-year-old lawyer was the most visible face of the opposition’s efforts to replace the government. However, he could not be a candidate in an eventual presidential election after he was barred from seeking public office for 15 years for alleged irregularities in his administration as governor.
Capriles has called Maduro a dictator, while the president accuses him of being a terrorist and even uses homophobic insults towards the governor.
-Vladimir Padrino: Led by Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, the Armed Forces reaffirmed their “unconditional loyalty” to Maduro, while the opposition urged them to be loyal to the Constitution and not repress their demonstrations, which usually end in violent clashes with law enforcement.
Political analyst Benigno Alarcón said that Maduro “bought the loyalty” of the military chiefs by giving them enormous political and economic power.
-Luis Almagro: Left-wing governments, such as Cuba and Bolivia, support Maduro in international forums, while the United States and other Latin American countries, such as Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico, express their concern for the democracy of the gigantic oil exporter.
The most critical voice outside the Venezuelan borders is Uruguayan Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), who punishes Maduro as a dictator and has asked for sanctions to be applied to his government.
-Creditors: Despite the crisis, Venezuela has fulfilled its international debt commitments with creditors such as China and Russia. Currently, any agreement to obtain credits from foreign investors, including oil contracts, must be approved by the Parliament, controlled by the opposition.
Russian State-owned Rosneft
does not seem concerned about the opposition’s legal questionings to refuse new loans,”
said analysts at consultancy Eurasia on April 6th.
The latter seems to worry the Chinese,”
added the analysts.