Nicholas Maduro has just been handed, by his predecessor, a ship full of holes, and he must know it.  But whether he is the skipper to fix the ailing vessel, remains to be seen.

Many of his policies, while populist, are shortsighted at best, and at worse, smack of dictatorial thrashing.  

While making an important speech in Caracas last night, Maduro got a taste of the problems that plague the country.  A rolling blackout completely darkened the capital for an hour.  

The blackout was not due to malfunction, but to a series of programs designed to save energy.  Of course Maduro pointed the finger at his adversary for the blackout, although even if that had been the case, he should take it for what it is: a form of protest.  

But the energy saving measures had been planned long before his speech.  That no one took care to change the timetable to accommodate the premier, however, could be a taken as a clear sign of protest. 

Although Maduro was handpicked by his predecessor, Chavez, he seems not to have the wily guile and presence that Chavez had.  In addition, Chavez was a military man, and knew how to keep power centralized.  Maduro, an ex bus driver, seems to lack in the basic qualities needed for a strongman to hold together a country like Venezuela. 

Venezuela's fortunes have been squandered by Chavez, although some of it did make it to the right people, the ones who had the least.  But without strong economic reform and a clear, if socialist, plan Maduro risks plunging the country into chaos. 

The elite class in Venezuela would like nothing more than to see Maduro go.  Elections are nearing: a frightening proposition when your country is teetering on the brink of economic chaos.  And Maduro must sense that he is up to his neck with problems to solve in a rather short time. 

Maduro would do better to stop calling his adversaries 'fascists' and blame everything on opponents of his communist tenure.  In fact, it was Maduro himself to planned for most of the electricity saving measures.   It will take more than last minute gestures, like edicts that dictate the price of electronics or cars, to fix Venezuela.


Source : France 24/  12.3.13

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