You don't need to be an army general marching in with troops to mount a coup in a country. Sometimes democracy can be crushed by the very person elected at its helm — the president.
In Venezuela, analysts and opposition leaders are describing this phenomenon as a "self-coup," after President Nicolás Maduro ordered the Supreme Court to usurp the legislature's prerogatives. A ruling by the court on Wednesday night essentially dissolved the elected legislature, which is led by Maduro's opponents.
Latin American and Spanish analysts have, rightly, underscored the gravity of the situation. In an article today in the conservative Argentinian dailyClarín, commentator Ricardo Kirshbaum writes that Venezuela has now "fully entered classic totalitarianism" and that Maduro has embarked "on an adventure" with little support from Venezuelans. Mariano Turzi, writing in the same newspaper, called the situation a "Vexit". He noted that the socialist regime's promises of a utopian country were increasingly a "distant dream and a present nightmare," adding that the movement founded by former leftist president Hugo Chávez had failed terribly.
Venezuela is the furthest it's been from democracy since Maduro became president.
In an editorial that point-blank called the move in Venezuela a "coup",Spain's El País accused Maduro of trying to sabotage talks and torpedo an agreement with the opposition. The country's more conservative El Mundo newspaper took a jab at the leftist Podemos party in Spain, which has openly sympathized with the Venezuelan regime, observing that "last night, Caracas woke up with the parliament Podemos dreams of here — none."
Mexico's El Universal suggested that it was time Venezuela's Latin American neighbors "initiated diplomatic pressures" to restore "democratic normality" in the besieged country. In another Mexican paper, Excelsior, one observer, Yuriria Sierra, wrote that Maduro's power play was just the type of absurdity that could be expected from the "Chavismo" legacy. Peru, which has condemned Maduro's moves, has recalled its ambassador from Caracas. Peruvian newspaper El Comercio reflected this as much in its Friday front page.
It's clear that at this moment Venezuela is the furthest it's been from democracy since Maduro became president. The economic collapse of Venezuela is so horrific that people are starving and even giving away their children. This latest political crisis shows just how far Venezuela is from recovering from this misery.
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