Venezuela: Maduro Keeps on Keeping On

Speaking of places where democracy has withered, Venezuela held municipal elections this weekend, in which the ruling PSUV ran the table — in part because the beleaguered opposition boycotted the vote. Now, President Maduro says, they’ll be barred from fielding candidates in next year’s presidential election.


Say what you will about Maduro, but he has confounded his doubters, holding on to power even as his government goes broke, inflation hits triple digits, and his people suffer hideous crises of violence and malnutrition. How do guys like this hang on for so long? The two keys for Maduro — as for a long list of soft and not so soft authoritarians — are the continued loyalty of the military and the chronic fragmentation of the opposition. And the recent rise in oil prices, which account for 95% of Venezuelan exports — can only help Maduro. A little more cash to throw around will reinvigorate the loyalty of senior officers whose commitment to 21st Century Socialism has at least as much to do with financial interest as with revolutionary fervor. This story can go on for quite a bit longer yet.

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We've written recently about how the COVID-19 pandemic will hit poorer countries particularly hard. But the burden of the virus' spread also falls more heavily on working class people even in wealthy countries, particularly in Europe and the United States. This is exacerbating the divide between rich and poor that had already upended the political establishment in countries around the world even before anyone had heard of a "novel coronavirus."

Why?

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The coronavirus is likely to hit poorer countries particularly hard, but it is also laying a bigger burden on working class people even in wealthy ones. As less affluent people suffer disproportionately not only from the disease, but also from the economic costs of containing it, we can expect a worsening of income inequalities that have already upended global politics over the past few years. Here is a look at inequality in some of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19 so far.

500 million: The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could plunge 500 million people into poverty, according to a new report released by Oxfam. As incomes and economies continue to contract, global poverty will increase for the first time in 30 years, the report predicts, undermining many of the gains of globalization that have pulled millions out of poverty in recent years.

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