Despite all this, the government has cracked down on police excesses. After violent anti-government protests in late 2016, for example, seven police officers were arrested and charged with “violations of fundamental rights.” In 2014, a police officer was charged with the murder of an opposition protester despite the fact that he was surrounded and being pelted with rocks. Maduro’s interior minister defended the officer’s arrest, saying, “We will be relentless in the application of justice and the law.”
What about the removal of opposition parties?
Venezuela exists in a global order dominated by hostile capitalist classes, to whom it has to sell its exports, such as oil, and from whom it has to import goods as wide-ranging as food to technology and spare parts. Even the state-owned and nationalized enterprises have to operate by the rules of those foreign corporations, banks and creditors. All this creates a large toolkit for the forces of capitalism — not socialism — to sabotage, extort and undermine Venezuela’s economic development.
There is also considerable evidence that suggests the U.S. Federal Reserve devalued Venezuelan currency at various moments for political reasons. Meanwhile, privately run websites like DolarToday, publishes wildly inflated estimates of the “true” value of the Venezuelan currency relative to the U.S. dollar. DolarToday is run by Gustavo Díaz, a former Venezuelan military officer who participated in the failed 2002 coup. This constitutes a form of psychological warfare constantly throwing workers and businesses into doubt about the real value of their wages and products. With each exchange rate spike, stores increased their prices, but, fearing future instability, did not then lower prices in equal measure when the exchange rate declined. This too accelerated inflation.
There is no need to bow before the lies about Venezuela from Trump, Bolton or Senator Marco Rubio. There is a reason that the Maduro government continues to enjoy its widest support among the country’s poor and working class, even though they have been hit hardest by the economic crisis. Millions see that the government and United Socialist Party has consistently tried to make society more just, equal, participatory and independent — and that is precisely why U.S. imperialism and the country’s oligarchy are trying to strangle it.