They finally declared an emergency in Venezuela
A few days ago, my friend Daniel Duquena, editor of Venezuela News & Views, told me that the economy is a big #1 down in Venezuela. He shared stories of economic shortages and even lack of basic medicine. It's really bad.
Today, the Maduro administration has finally admitted that there is a first-rate "emergencia," as reported by The New York Times:
The Venezuelan government on Friday declared an emergency to address the country’s deteriorating economy.
The plan was short on specific policy changes but sought to give President Nicolás Maduro the power to bypass the National Assembly on spending matters, among other measures. But any expansion of executive power would have to be approved by the National Assembly, which is controlled by Mr. Maduro’s rivals who took control of the chamber in January with their own promises to address Venezuela’s economic problems.
Later in the day, Mr. Maduro delivered Venezuela’s equivalent of the State of the Union address. It was the president’s first time addressing his Assembly rivals in the chamber.
Also on Friday, Venezuela’s central bank announced some grim economic figures, noting that the economy contracted by 4.5 percent during the first nine months of 2015 and that inflation reached 142 percent during the 12-month period ending in September.
It's a no-win situation for everyone.
On one hand, there is an emergency, especially regarding medical supplies. No one can deny that.
On the other hand, the opposition correctly fears that President Maduro will use the crisis to expand presidential powers at the expense of the newly elected legislature. I can understand that, too.
Of course, the question that many are asking is this: will Maduro resign and let someone pick up the pieces? Maduro knows, or should know, that the golden days of "Chavizmo" are gone. They left with $150 oil, high crime, and a bureaucracy that everyone hates. The new legislative majority even took down the big picture of Chávez at the Assembly, or their equivalent of the House chambers.
One way or another, 2016 is going to be a year that most people will remember down in Venezuela. My guess is that most people can't wait for Miguel Cabrera to start hitting a few home runs to distract them from this mess.