Thousands take to the streets as parliament says the Venezuelan government breached its own constitution by blocking a referendum to oust President Nicolás Maduro.
- Congress members vote for impeachment of deeply unpopular President Maduro, declaring that he staged a coup.
- Polls suggest as much as 80% of voters want Maduro gone this year
- Venezuelans suffering severe shortages of food and medicine alongside the world’s highest inflation in the oil-dependent country.
- Fears of a imminent civil war after policeman shot dead as hundreds of thousands protest and share images and video online.
The Venezuelan congress is now in open rebellion after a majority of its members voted that a decision against impeaching President Maduro constituted a coup with government participation. Lawmakers have announced they plan to push for impeachment proceedings against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro as chaos engulfs the streets.
“We will bring a political trial against President Nicolás Maduro to get to the bottom of his role in the break with democracy and human rights here,”opposition leader Julio Borges said.
Angry citizens have flooded the streets of Venezulea following the call for a nationwide protest on Wednesday dubbed “the taking of Venezuela” in which one policeman has already been shot dead and scores injured.
Using the hashtag #TomadeVenezuela or “Venezuela takeover”, people have shared images and video of the huge protests rocking major cities and decrying the violent and incompetent regime.
It seems as if the Venezuelan pressure cooker is finally about to explode.
— Virginia E. Zamora S (@VirginiaZamora) October 26, 2016
— borisvian1 (@shababaty) October 26, 2016
— Rachelle Krygier (@rachellekrygier) October 26, 2016
For ordinary Venezuelans, it seems that legal recourse to Maduro’s regime has been met at every turn by violence, sabotage and political maneuvering from the highest level. Attempts to block a referendum on Maduro’s rule have proved to be the final straw for many and hundreds of thousands of protesters are bringing major cities Carcaras and Maracaibo to a standstill.
Calling for “the taking of Venezuela” in form of huge protests that have already turned violent, the opposition are riding a wave of dissatisfaction with a leader that is commonly regarded as weak, uncharismatic and corrupt by a clear majority of citizens.
Fact Sheet – Nicolás Maduro:
- Nicolás Maduro is a former bus driver and rose within the ranks of leftist firebrand Hugo Chavez’s circle to serve as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice President of Venezuela.
- Following the controversial but popular Chavez’s death in 2013, Maduro won 50.62% of the votes as the candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela to become the next president of Venezuela.
- However, President Maduro has been incredibly unpopular when compared to Chavez, with critics citing his lack of charisma and inspiration. As many as 80% of Venezuelans want Maduro to depart by the end of 2016, according to polls.
- A continuation of the economic policies implemented by Chavez and a reduction in oil prices has seen the Venezuelan economy nosedive in the last year.
- Shortages of common household items, food and spiraling inflation has fanned the flames of rebellion for many ordinary citizens.
- A heavy handed approach to policing crime (allegedly in cooperation with street gangs) and Maduro’s own tendency to blame “conspiracy theories” on national TV has not helped his image as a paranoid and lonely ruler.
Who will the military support?
Overshadowing the protests and recent violence is the open question of what the military will do and if they will open fire on Venezuelan citizens in defence of Maduro.
It looks like they may be forced to take a side in an increasingly volatile and dangerous climate and, as yet, nobody really knows where their true feelings lie.
Another pressing question is the response from the armed mafias that Maduro allegedly courted to keep order in Venezuela. They won’t be happy about losing a big revenue source and could prove vital in the war for Venezuela.