Venezuelans suffer amid power struggle
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.
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.