caracas - Almost twenty million Venezuelans can go to the polls on Sunday to elect a constitutional meeting on the initiative of President Nicolás Maduro. It will be an exciting day, but not because of the results. Maduro's opponents see the ballot like a 'trick' to turn off parliament. The question is how they react.
Maduro wants a 545 member council of 545 members from around 5500 predominantly government-elected candidates to reform the political system with a constitution. His purpose is to remain in power. He lost the majority in parliament for two years.
The opposition boycott the poll and most Venezuelans are too busy to get some food. Maduro has forbidden demonstrations, but the protesters who have gone up the streets since April do not seem to stay home.
President Maduro ruins the country according to critics. He himself states that his leftist government is the victim of an American conspiracy and an economic war. But the fall in oil prices and dependence on oil exports seem to be the biggest offenders for the left-wing populists in Caracas who have been struggling with oil money for years.
Maduro is now making money. Venezuela has become world champion inflation. The percentage may rise to 1000 percent this year. People can not buy food anymore with the worthless money, let alone medicines. People are starving nowadays. Observers fear that 'the gunpowder Venezuela' explodes as the Venezuelan people see Maduro's failure to establish a dictatorship.
The more than 30 million inhabitants are only 30 kilometers away from the Caribbean. The sea between Aruba and Venezuela has helped to prevent an exodus from the Antilles, but between Colombia and Venezuela is not a sea. Every day, 25,000 Venezolans estimate the limit for food or medicine. They are not all, but Colombia knows that more and more will not go back.
The country therefore decided last week to give 200,000 fugitive Venezuelans a provisional residence permit.