At least twenty people have died in Venezuela as the largest opposition protests the country has seen in several years grind the country to a halt. Reuters:
Eight people were electrocuted to death during a looting incident in Caracas, a firefighter said on Friday, amid violent protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro by opponents accusing him of seeking to create a dictatorship.
The accident occurred when a group of looters broke into a bakery in the working class neighborhood of El Valle, according the firefighter, who asked not be identified. It was not immediately possible to confirm details of the incident with hospital or other officials. [….]
Opposition leaders have promised to keep up their protests, demanding that Maduro’s government call general elections, free almost 100 jailed opposition activists and respect the autonomy of the opposition-led Congress.
Naturally, the socialist Maduro government is calling the protesters “hoodlums” and will likely try to further undermine the opposition by painting them as violent criminals. Nonetheless, bread riots that see violent pillaging of bakeries while looters scream that they’re hungry are not typically a good sign for a government.
For years, Venezuelans have dealt with chronic shortages of basic goods including milk, sugar, toilet paper, and beer. Despite having the world’s largest proven supplies of oil, production has plunged for a variety of reasons ranging from the economic viability of selling Venezuela’s heavy crude at $50 per barrel to power outages and cash shortages hampering the state-run oil company.
In the face of an economic and political crisis, the Maduro government is not only failing to face facts, it’s doubling down on Chavismo. On Thursday, the government nationalized the country’s sole GM plant despite the fact that the plant hasn’t produced a car in two years and has been selling spare parts ever since. Venezuela’s crisis has been heating up for some time, the question now is whether the protests in the coming days will bring it to a boiling point.