Venezue­lans suf­fer amid power strug­gle

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

CARA­CAS, Venezuela — The power strug­gle be­tween the left- and right-wing po­lit­i­cal forces is con­sum­ing time, en­ergy and money that could oth­er­wise be spent on meet­ing the needs of the peo­ple, ob­servers said.

Av­er­age Venezue­lans are strug­gling to make ends meet amid run­away in­fla­tion, find­ing it hard to get ba­sic goods and medicines, thanks to scarcity, hoard­ing of pri­mary ma­te­ri­als an­dris­ing crime.

Amid these press­ing prob­lems, cit­i­zens have been called by both the rul­ing party and the con­ser­va­tive op­po­si­tion, which con­trols the Congress, to vote in two key polls this month: a gov­ern­ment­backed ini­tia­tive to elect mem­bers of a Na­tional Con­stituent As­sem­bly to re­write the con­sti­tu­tion, and an oppo- sition-or­ga­nized plebiscite to gauge pub­lic sup­port for the con­sti­tu­tional mea­sure.

The ANC elec­tion is a con­tro­ver­sial topic and seen as an in­stru­ment of Pres­i­dent Nicolas Maduro to re­write the Con­sti­tu­tion. He sees it as the best way to lead the coun­try out of its po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic cri­sis.

How­ever, the op­po­si­tion Demo­cratic Unity Round­table op­poses the ANC, ac­cus­ing Maduro of vi­o­lat­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Street protests have been on­go­ing since April to de­mand early pres­i­den­tial elec­tions and more re­cently, an end to any at­tempt to re­write the Con­sti­tu­tion.

In lieu of ad­dress­ing the peo­ples’ con­cerns, the two camps are of­fer­ing “two mod­els ... with the sole pur­pose of deny­ing the op­po­nent’s posi- tion”, said so­cial psy­chol­o­gist Maria Jose Mil­lan.

Given the deep di­vi­sions, the two sides “can­not see be­yond the per­spec­tive each cham­pi­ons”, said Mil­lan, mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble to co­op­er­ate on solv­ing eco­nomic and other is­sues.

Young gen­er­a­tion

So­ci­ol­o­gist Maryclen Stelling agrees, say­ing “each day, the two sides be­come more po­lar­ized, which af­fects all so­cial ar­eas”.

Both also agree the in­creas­ingly vi­o­lent bat­tle be­tween the left and right may push the coun­try’s youth to­ward ex­trem­ism, dim­ming the pos­si­bil­ity of fu­ture col­lab­o­ra­tion.

Venezue­lan young­sters are grow­ing up in an at­mos­phere “where hate is trans­formed into vi­o­lence ... and de­stroy­ing what’s dif­fer­ent from you is le­git­imized”, said Stelling.

This is espe­cially prob­lem­atic, be­cause chil­dren and ado­les­cents have been seen tak­ing part in the protests.

The Na­tional Elec­toral Coun­cil said on Tues­day that an elec­tion for the ANC on July 30 would be guar­an­teed by the armed forces.

Mil­lan lamented that “there is no mech­a­nism of con­tention to al­low this psy­cho­log­i­cally vul­ner­a­ble seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion to de­velop their iden­tity in a nor­mal way, we see them be­ing al­tered by the pro­pa­ganda process”.

Ac­cord­ing to Stelling, what Venezue­lans need now is a pact of peace­ful co­ex­is­tence that can es­tab­lish a frame­work for co­op­er­a­tion and con­sen­sus to ad­dress ur­gent prob­lems.

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