As Venezuela unravels around him, President Nicolas Maduro continues to look outward for culprits to blame. During a recently televised broadcast, he ripped what he termed a meeting “to conspire against Venezuela” in Washington.
“Washington is activating measures at the request of Venezuela’s fascist right, who are emboldened by the coup in Brazil,” Maduro said, referring to the recent impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
William Murray, chairman of the Religious Freedom Coalition, said Maduro’s professed concern about a Washington-led conspiracy is disingenuous.
“There is definitely a conspiracy against the people of Venezuela, but the conspiracy was by [former president Hugo] Chavez and Maduro, not by the government of the United States,” Murray explained.
In his Friday broadcast, Maduro went on to declare a 60-day state of emergency that included the “necessary measures” to protect Venezuela from a foreign attack. Murray doesn’t buy the rationale.
“The only reason he has called a state of emergency is because of his fear of the people of Venezuela rising up against him, not because of any true external factor,” Murray claimed.
Maduro does have reason to be concerned about a popular revolt. Protesters have marched in the streets, demanding electoral authorities allow a recall vote on Maduro. However, according to Reuters, U.S. intelligence officials doubt Maduro will allow a recall referendum against him to proceed. At one protest last week, soldiers fired tear gas at stone-throwing protesters.
As food, medicine and other household items have become harder to find in Venezuela, mobs have looted grocery stores, stealing whatever they need. Some people have gotten desperate enough to eat dogs, cats and pigeons.
This is the fruit of socialism, according to Murray. He said it goes back to Maduro’s predecessor, Chavez, who froze the prices of food and other goods below market value. Domestic suppliers could not afford to supply their goods at such low prices, and the Venezuelan government could not afford to import enough goods to meet consumer needs at the low prices. This problem was made worse by the regime’s foreign currency controls, and it became worse still when Venezuelan oil revenues started declining, because oil production makes up the vast majority of Venezuela’s economy.
“This is the result of utopian socialism,” declared Murray, who wrote about utopianism in his latest book, “Utopian Road to Hell: Enslaving America and the World with Central Planning.”
Although many have clamored for his ouster, Maduro has sworn he will not leave office before his term expires in 2019. According to Reuters, Maduro “accuses the opposition of seeking a coup against him to destroy the socialist legacy of his predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez.”
However, Murray noted Chavez’s pitiful socialist legacy is hardly worth destroying.
“Right now the government employees are only working two days a week because of the lack of electricity, factories are shut down, the oil industry is in turmoil, there is no retail sector, what food is available is only available on the black market – these are the rewards of socialism,” he concluded.
Reuters reported two U.S. intelligence officials predicted Maduro will likely not be able to finish his presidential term, despite his refusal to voluntarily give up power. F. Michael Maloof, a national security writer for WND and former security policy analyst in the Defense Department, agreed it’s very possible Maduro could be forced out.
“Maduro, who is anti-American, could be thrown out, but he could put that off by declaring martial law, which will only aggravate the economic and political situation even more,” said Maloof, author of “A Nation Forsaken.” “Another alternative would be for his own political party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, to oust him to prevent worsening conditions.”
Of course, U.S. officials deny they are trying to oust Maduro or rooting for Venezuela to fail. But Maloof thinks it would benefit the U.S. if Maduro’s anti-U.S. regime were to disappear.
“It really doesn’t matter what kind of government is in place; Venezuela still will have to rely on the U.S. as an oil customer,” Maloof said. “However, it would be in Washington’s interest to see Maduro and his socialist government replaced.
“One major pressure point the U.S. could put on Venezuela is to halt all oil shipments to the U.S. That could become increasingly possible, if Washington wants to play hardball. But Venezuela looks like it’s doing very well imploding on its own without direct U.S. intervention.”
U.S. officials are concerned about a possible Venezuelan debt default. Although the Maduro regime has gone out of its way to make its debt payments so far, financial experts believe the country, wracked by hyperinflation and falling oil revenues, will eventually run out of money and have to default on its debt.
Maloof said it would behoove the U.S. to help Venezuela avoid a default.
“Any default could hurt the U.S. economy, especially U.S. banks that hold loans to Venezuela,” he said. “So it’s really not in the U.S. interest for Venezuela to default, but rather to invoke the necessary reforms to lessen that prospect, and perhaps [the U.S. should] nudge or encourage a political leadership change at the top by helping to finance such efforts.”
Murray, however, believes it’s too late for market-based reforms. Now that Venezuela has suffered through massive shortages, power outages and civil unrest, he sees only one thing left for the United States to do.
“What the United States should be doing right now, along with other South American countries, is preparing to deliver massive humanitarian aid when the Maduro government collapses,” Murray said. “That’s what they should be preparing to do.”