In light of the recent economic struggles that Venezuela has been facing under the leadership of President Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela has declared a state of economic emergency in an effort to keep their collapsing economy stable. The proposed state of emergency would allow President Maduro and the Venezuelan government to have the power to “intervene in companies or limit access to currency.”1 The state of emergency would last for 60 days, and would be oriented toward preserving the rights and access of Venezuelans to education, health, and housing. With inflation reaching as high as 200 percent during the past year and a shortage of basic goods, Maduro hopes that his intervention will pull Venezuela’s economy out of the dirt.2
In 2001, Venezuela passed a law that allowed the declaration of such states of emergency only in the event of circumstances in which the government would not be able to handle a situation by normal means. The law increases the powers given to the executive branch, which includes the president, “with the temporary restriction of permitted constitutional guarantees and the execution, monitoring, supervision, and inspection of the measures that are adopted according to the law.” Maduro had been hinting at the idea of declaring a state of emergency in December before the elections, and did so just hours before he was to speak in front of the National Assembly.2 Venezuelans have directly felt the blows dealt by the economic spiral, as the shortage of goods has made standing in line at grocery stores a daylong event for the lower classes.
In economically stagnant or failing years, Venezuela’s store shelves have served as a reflection of the condition of the nation’s economy, as they are nearly barren. Venezuelans have taken to the streets to protest the government’s inability to deal with economic fluctuations, as well as resorted to hoarding and looting as a means of obtaining their goods. Those who loot and hoard, however, are subject to police action, who have raided homes in search of goods that were destined to either be smuggled into or out of Venezuela or be sold on the black market.3 Venezuelans who obtain their goods legally must suffer daylong waits with identification processes that include fingerprint scans and ID card checks.4 Unfortunately, the current condition of the Venezuelan economy has left the nation’s citizens with few options.
The short supply of goods in markets all over Venezuela has been cited as a direct result of the increased supply of oil worldwide, since Venezuela is incredibly dependent on oil exports to support its economy. Reports show that oil makes up around 96 percent of Venezuela’s exports,5 and as Iraq has increased its crude oil production, crude oil prices have dropped 6.7 percent, depreciating its value and severely damaging Venezuela’s economy.6
Despite President Maduro’s declaration of an Economic State of Emergency, the Venezuelan Congress rejected the plan to give him more power over the economy, citing the vagueness of the decree.7
1. Amaya, Victor. “Venezuela Declares an Economic State of Emergency and Releases Data Showing How Bad It Is.” Vice News. 15 Jan. 2016. Available at:https://news.vice.com/article/venezuela-declares-an-economic-emergency-and-releases-data-showing-how-bad-it-is
2. Meza, Alfredo. “Maduro declares Economic State of Emergency in Venezuela.” El País. 15 Jan. 2016. Available at:http://elpais.com/elpais/2016/01/15/inenglish/1452878810_197409.html
3. Castro, Maolis; Vyas, Kejal. “Venezuela’s Food Shortages Trigger Long Lines, Hunger and Looting.” Wall Street Journal. 26 Aug. 2015. Available at:http://www.wsj.com/articles/venezuelas-food-shortages-trigger-long-lines-hunger-and-looting-1440581400
4. Otis, John. “The Nightmare of Grocery Shopping In Venezuela.” National Public Radio. 29 Oct. 2015. Available at:http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2015/10/29/452636462/the-nightmare-of-grocery-shopping-in-venezuela
5. “Overview: Venezuela.” The World Bank. 2016. Available at:http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/venezuela/overview
6. Leong, Richard. “Global stocks, dollar fall as oil sell-off resumes.” Reuters. 25 Jan. 2016. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-markets-idUSKCN0V2139
7. Kurmanaev, Anatoly. “Venezuela Congress Rejects Maduro’s Economic Plan.” Wall Street Journal. 22 Jan. 2016. Available at:http://www.wsj.com/articles/venezuela-congress-rejects-maduros-economic-plan-1453503298