BOGOTA – Venezuela is descending ever deeper into violence, with street protests spreading rapidly across the country. President Nicolás Maduro’s government appears to be losing control – using both a strong hand against protesters and a timid attempt to begin a dialogue with political rivals – while the opposition is divided and appears incapable of taking power. Since the current crisis began in February, more than 40 people have died, roughly 650 have been injured, and some 2,000 have been detained.
Meanwhile, Venezuela’s inflation rate is the highest in the world, basic goods are in short supply, and street crime has reached unprecedented levels. And, rather than address these issues, Maduro – who has just completed his first year in office – has denounced the protests as part of an attempted coup.