Monday, April 21, 2014

VENEZUELA - Political Divisions Deepen

"Socialism after Chavez:  Political divisions deepen amid unrest in Venezuela" PBS NewsHour 4/18/2014


JUDY WOODRUFF (NewsHour):  In March of last year, the 14-year rule over Venezuela by the controversial and charismatic Hugo Chavez came to a dramatic end when the leader died of cancer.

His handpicked successor, Nicolas Maduro, was elected president soon after.  As Maduro marks the end of his first year in office tomorrow, divisions have deepened in a country that has become violent in recent months.

Chief foreign affairs correspondent Margaret Warner reports.

MARGARET WARNER (NewsHour):  Late last week, after more than three months of sometimes deadly street protests throughout Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro met with his political opposition.

The six-hour televised session brokered by the Vatican and three South American foreign ministers attracted record ratings on Venezuelan TV, reflecting the nation’s anxiety at the street violence that has killed more than 40 and posed the biggest challenge to the government in more than a decade.

The alternative to finding an accommodation, said Maduro, is a dark one.

PRESIDENT NICOLAS MADURO, Venezuela (through interpreter):  Imagine, it would be the beginning of an armed, violent civil confrontation, bloody, bloody, and no one would win anything.

MARGARET WARNER:  What began in January as demonstrations against rising crime mushroomed in February into massive marches, with hundreds of thousands protesting the scarcity of goods, insecurity and the arrest of demonstrators.

Today, there remain smaller, but fervent localized protests in neighborhoods fortified with barricades.  The target of all this?  President Maduro.  Maduro has struggled to maintain Chavez’s aura, but he is being swamped by an economic slide that has brought this oil-rich country 57 percent inflation and near empty store shelves, and a further explosion in Venezuela’s rampant crime, creating what the U.N. says is now the second highest murder rate in the world.

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