Venezuela: Challenges in promoting democracy, social progress

(VOVworld)- One year after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela is struggling with demonstrations and spreading unrest on top of numerous economic difficulties. President Nicolas Maduro and his government are struggling to stabilize the country.

Venezuela: Challenges in promoting democracy, social progress - ảnh 1

Over the past month, crowds protesting the 2011 Presidential election results have marched in the streets of Caracas and other cities. Large numbers of Venezuelan students for the first time ever participated in these protests. Protesters say the policies of President Maduro’s leftwing party have resulted in the highest inflation in the last 15 years, a shortage of production materials, a high crime rate and social instability. The protests have turned violence resulting in a number of deaths and injuries.

Instability caused by economic difficulties

The protests are partly a reaction to the downturn in Venezuela’s economy. Venezuela is now struggling with severe economic problems- an inflation rate of more than 56% last year, a devaluation of the currency and a decline of foreign currency reserves. Though Venezuela has the world’s largest oil reserves, the oil and gas sector has failed to cover all of the government’s subsidy programs due to insufficient investment in oil and gas production over the past decade.

A test for President Maduro

Venezuela gained major achievements and significantly improved people’s lives during the 14 years under President Hugo Chavez. The poverty rate dropped to 6% in 2012 and Venezuela ranked 71st of 187 countries on the human development index. These achievements were the results of a policy of using profits from oil to improve people’s lives. However, with oil production declining, Venezuela needs to develop other economic sectors to replace this revenue source. This is the challenge the  current government is facing.

Determined to protect fruits of Bolivar’s revolution

According to analysts, despite the protests in Venezuela, a revolution is unlikely because the opposition has not been able to gain enough support from the people to overthrow President Maduro.

Though Maduro has not been able to stop the demonstrations and protesters continue to demand his resignation, the Venezuelan President insists that the Bolivar Revolution is moving forward. The Venezuelan government has resolutely dealt with the abuse of civil rights and freedom to commit violence and destroy public property. President Maduro has ordered the National Assembly to investigate plots to overthrow the government. A Truth Committee will collect and analyze evidence of any support from hostile forces for a coup attempt. In addition to measures to prevent an escalation of violence, the Venezuelan government has put in place new policies to deal with economic difficulties with priority given to protecting consumers’ interests and meeting people’s food and medicine needs.  

When he took office following last April’s election, President Maduro pledged to boost social reform programs and follow President Chavez’s path toward the goals of the Bolivar revolution and socialism. Venezuela’s economic difficulties and growing protests are a test for President Maduro, demanding that he accelerate economic reforms. Ending the protests and restoring political stability and the economy will win Maduro the trust of the Venezuelan people and allow him to pursue his goal of democracy and social progress.