SPOTLIGHT: VENEZUELAN POLITICAL CRISIS INTENSIFIES
Stories about Venezuela's toilet paper shortage are no laughing matter, especially when people are also struggling to access basic food supplies and medicine, and face soaring crime rates and rolling blackouts.
But rather than work together to help alleviate the crisis, President Nicolas Maduro and the political opposition, which controls the legislature, are at each other's throats. Opponents are pushing for a referendum to oust the president. Maduro is using his influence over the Supreme Court to fight back. The high court annulled several parliamentary rulings in recent months. It also denied the opposition the two-thirds "supermajority" it won in December's elections by blocking three lawmakers from taking their seats.
On Friday, the legislature took matters into its own hands and reinstated the missing lawmakers, bypassing the Supreme Court. Furious, Maduro accused his adversaries Monday of carrying out "a parliamentary coup" against the judiciary. He upped the ante Tuesday by threatening to block funding to the legislature. "We can't use public monies on institutions that disregard the law," Maduro said.
The tit-for-tat is doing nothing, sadly, to improve the plight of everyday citizens. Conditions are so dire that an increasing number of young women are opting for sterilization, according to news reports. Desperate times indeed.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- Hurricane Earl is expected to churn toward northern Guatemala or southeastern Mexico later today after making landfall in Belize this morning.
- U.S. President Barack Obama turns 55.