It has been 27 years since the last dictatorship in Latin America—except for Cuba’s—finally dried up and disappeared and the continent has lived on a rocky but nonetheless continuous road of democracy since.That is until last week, when in court, buddies of Venezuela’s inept president Nicolas Maduro tried to strip the country’s representative congress of power and write laws themselves.
The decision has now been reversed, but still, one of Latin America’s oldest democracies is now plunged into deep political crisis.
Maduro’s problem is, of course, not with the legislature, dominated as it is by political opponents. Rather, it is Venezuela’s dependence on oil production for almost its entire economic output and the profligate spending by him and his populist predecessor, the late Hugo Chavez. Venezuela lacks money to import even food. Medicines are in short supply. Inflation is out of control.
Maduro’s solution: grab power unto himself and mostly avoid having elections, which the opposition is demanding. Also, he attacked bakeries for having no bread.
In the old days, when US interference in internal Latin politics was regarded as a major problem, countries from Mexico to the far end of South America were loath to criticize the domestic ups and downs of their neighbors. And now? On the one hand, some democracies, which value the solidarity of other elected governments in the hemisphere, are calling Maduro out.The head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, denounced Maduro’s moves. Only tight leftist allies Cuba and Bolivia have so far supported the coup.
But what will the OAS or individual countries do? The organization is meeting Monday to look into the issue, but things like sanctions or a diplomatic freeze-out to defend democracy won’t happen. Maybe, some sort of condemnation and call for dialogue, blah-blah-blah. So Venezuela goes down the tubes on its own.
Crisis made simple.
Forbes asks, does anyone care?