Monday, 7 October 2013

As Socialist Dream Crumbles, Venezuelans Find Nicolas Maduro 'A Bad Copy' Of Chavez

Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of Venezuela
THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH: Amid food shortages, rampant inflation and widespread electricity blackouts, many Venezuelans are wondering if Chavez chose the right heir to his revolution

The army has been sent into toilet paper factories, fights for basic foodstuffs have resulted in several deaths and new, multi-million dollar oil tankers are sitting idle in dock. And, despite sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela’s socialist government can’t quite manage to keep the lights on.

Now many in Venezuela are wondering how much longer President Nicolas Maduro, the anointed successor of the country’s firebrand Leftist leader Hugo Chavez, can keep hold of the reins of its crumbling socialist revolution.

Last week Mr Maduro was forced to turn to a well-worn answer for his country’s woes, blaming a US plot to “sabotage the electrical system and the Venezuelan economy” and kicking out Washington’s envoy to the South American country. “Out of Venezuela!” he railed on state television, adding in English: “Yankees go home!”

It was a move copied straight from the playbook of Chavez, the vocal anti-imperialist who passed away in February, and one which killed off any hopes of rapprochement with the US following years of thorny relations.

If that wasn’t enough, Mr Maduro then accused the US Drug Enforcement Agency of orchestrating the presence of 1.3 tons of cocaine seized last month from an Air France plane flying out of Caracas. With the government long accused by Washington of complicity in the drug trade - counter-narcotics officials say some 50 per cent of cocaine in Britain is now trafficked through Venezuela - the bust was likely a US plot using mafias to brand the country a “narco-state”, he said. » | Alasdair Baverstock in Caracas and Hannah Strange | Sunday, October 06, 2013