Created: Thursday, 18 February 2016 11:57
Written by Sam Mcgill
On 6 December 2015, the Bolivarian revolution suffered its greatest ever electoral defeat, losing 56% of the vote to the right-wing Roundtable of Democratic Unity (MUD) coalition. Over the last 17 years of socialist rule, the poverty index in Venezuela has dropped from 21% to 5.4% in 2015 – a record low. More than 36,000 people were lifted out of poverty in 2014 alone, despite an economic slowdown caused by economic sabotage and falling oil prices. 84% of retired people now receive pensions; free health care and education cover the whole population. A million units of social housing have been constructed. Now these extraordinary gains for the working class are under threat. Sam McGill reports.
Counter-revolutionaries get to work
On 5 January 2016 the right-wing opposition took control of the National Assembly for the first time in 17 years. Its 109 seats, along with three pro-opposition indigenous representatives gave it a two-thirds ‘super-majority’ over Chavista forces, who had won only 55 seats. A two-thirds majority enables the right-wing to block spending on Venezuela’s extensive social missions, impose or remove ministers, dismiss the vice-president, call a constituent assembly to rewrite the constitution and initiate a process to remove President Nicolas Maduro.
However, that majority was called into question by the fact that three of MUD’s representatives, from the state of Amazonas, have been suspended pending an inquiry into allegations of electoral fraud. Nonetheless, the new President of the National Assembly – the right-wing leader of Accion Democratica, Henry Ramos Allup – went ahead and swore the deputies in. He also ordered the removal of pictures of Hugo Chavez and independence leader Simon Bolivar from the chamber. In response, the deputies of the PSUV and its allies walked out, joining mass pro-Chavista protests on the streets outside.
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