World Economy

Venezuela Accuses US of Plotting Economic Sabotage

Venezuela Accuses US of Plotting Economic SabotageVenezuela Accuses US of Plotting Economic Sabotage

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is again accusing the United States of plotting to destabilize his socialist administration. The accusations follow talks meant to improve relations between the two countries, AP reported.

On Monday night, Maduro said the US military had placed agents at the embassy in Caracas to orchestrate a plan to sabotage the country’s struggling economy and foment violence.

He said he would present evidence in the coming days of what he labelled “Plan Vulture.”

Last week, the US State Department called for Venezuelan elections officials to reverse bans that prevent high-profile government critics from running in Dec. 6 elections. Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry responded that the US was attempting to meddle in its sovereign affairs.

In the upcoming legislative elections in December, the opposition probably won’t win a big enough majority to recover power. Its fractured 27 parties, cronyism and robust neglect of the hinterland are expected to help keep it from the needed threshold to unseat the socialists, in power since Hugo Chavez drove it from office in 1999.

Given the growing push by his successor, Nicolas Maduro, to intimidate the media, imprison critics and warn darkly of unrest–along with the Byzantine nature of the electoral system and declining voter participation–Maduro’s coalition is polling enough to survive its biggest challenge ever.

“The opposition parties are the odds-on favorite but their position is very shallow,” said David Smilde, a sociology professor who writes about Venezuela at Tulane University in New Orleans. “They haven’t been able to convert the dissatisfaction with the regime into identification with their movement.”

“We reject the insider deals,” Pedro Urrieta, the new president of the Christian Democrats, said at a press conference on Aug. 5. “The protagonists in this election are not the parties. The protagonists are the community activists who travel by boat or foot to bring the message of change.”

Opposition leaders say their real problems are beyond their control. “Venezuela is not a functioning democracy,” lamented Jesus Torrealba, head of the opposition alliance, known as the Democratic Union Roundtable, or MUD, in an interview. “We are not going into elections in a Swiss canton where whoever wins by even one vote is recognized as a winner. We don’t just need a victory, we need a landslide.”