News / Americas

Venezuelans Divided on Who to Blame for Economic, Social Woes

Venezuelans Divided on Who to Blame for Economic, Social Woesi
X
February 25, 2014 11:22 PM
Continuing anti-government protests in Venezuela are posing the greatest threat to the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro since the handpicked successor to the late Hugo Chavez narrowly won election to office last year. VOA's Brian Padden reports that in this oil-rich country nearly everyone is angry about food shortages, soaring inflation, and the high crime rate but there are sharp divisions over who is to blame and how to fix the problems.
Brian Padden
Continuing anti-government protests in Venezuela are posing the greatest threat to the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro since the handpicked successor to the late Hugo Chavez narrowly won election to office last year.  In this oil-rich country nearly everyone is angry about food shortages, soaring inflation, and the high crime rate but there are sharp divisions over who is to blame and how to fix the problems.

The student-led protests in Venezuela, that began weeks ago, have led to some violent and deadly confrontations with police, and have sharpened the political divisions in the country.

All Venezuelans are frustrated with near hyper inflation rates, chronic shortages of basic goods, and violent crime.  But Eric Olsen, a Latin America analyst with the Woodrow Wilson Center, says they are divided over who to blame.

“People who are protesting are trying to hold the government accountable for this, pointing the finger at mismanagement or policy problems on the part of the government," he said. "The government itself is blaming agitators, it's blaming the United States.”

Olsen says President Maduro’s recent expulsion of three U.S. diplomats for allegedly helping the student protests bolsters his popularity among his supporters.

Meanwhile, Maduro says he wants to directly engage the U.S. on these charges and will send an ambassador to Washington to fill the long-vacant post.

“I call for the dialogue now, I accept this challenge," he said. "Let's initiate a high-level dialogue and let's put the truth out on the table.”

For its part, the United States has denied any involvement in the Venezuelan protests and has reciprocated by expelling three Venezuelan diplomats.  

“When President Maduro calls for a dialogue with the U.S. president and an exchange of ambassadors, he should focus instead on a dialogue with the Venezuelan people, because that is what is at issue here," said White House press secretary Jay Carney. "This is not about the United States.”

Despite having the world's largest oil reserves, spending for the socialist programs providing free housing, health care and other services to the poor have burdened the economy.  Olsen says Venezuela has to find a way to live within its means while preserving these popular programs.

"So the question is can you continue those kinds of programs but have a better and more reformed economic policy that doesn’t create such a crisis and I think that’s the challenge for both the government and for the opposition to some extent,” he said.

But so far the country remains divided over what to do and who to blame.

  • Anti-government demonstrators clash with riot police at Altamira Square in Caracas, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • Anti-government demonstrators run from tear gas during clashes with riot police at Altamira Square in Caracas, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • People walk in front of a burning barricade blocking the highway in Chacao, Caracas, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • Motorcyclists waving a Venezuelan flag attend a rally in support of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • Motorcyclists attend a rally in support of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • Opposition supporters march protest against President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas Feb. 22, 2014.
  • An opposition supporter walks past words painted on a blocked street, reading 'Maduro murderer', at Altamira Square in Caracas, Feb. 21, 2014.
  • Members of a pro-government "colectivo," or "collective," march in downtown Caracas, Feb. 20, 2014.
  • Opposition supporters walk past a burning barricade at Altamira square in Caracas, Feb. 20, 2014.

You May Like

Photogallery US to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Expanded Ebola Effort

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Obama is to announce troop deployment, other details of US plans to fight Ebola outbreak More

China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Chronically Hungry Numbers Decline

Three U.N. agencies have released the State of Food Security in the World report
More

UN: Enforced Disappearances Continue Unabated Globally

UN Working Group on Enforced Disappearances says more than 43,000 cases from 88 countries still remain to be clarified
More

Hurricane Odile Weakens, Still a Threat to Mexico

Odile could drench Baja California with as much as 46 centimeters of rain by Friday
More

Powerful Hurricane Threatens Mexico's Baja California

US forecasters have downgraded Odile to strong Category 3 storm, with top sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour
More

Hard-hitting Films Tackle Homelessness at Toronto Festival

'Time Out of Mind,' 'Shelter,' and 'Heaven Knows What' all focus on characters struggling with homelessness, addiction on the streets of New York
More

After Tax Reform Triumph, Chile's President Faces Rockier Road

'Honeymoon' may be over for Michelle Bachelet as protests rise and economy, security outlook worsen
More