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Iran’s Ally Venezuela is Rich in Oil but Poor in Basic Needs | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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People line up to buy basic products outside a supermarket in Caracas, Venezuela, January 15, 2016. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Bogota-Venezuela, one of the richest Latin American countries thanks to oil, is also a country that lacks food, medicine and daily essentials. It seems to be following the footsteps of its ally Iran.

Humanitarian and social situations reached a dramatic level in which hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans were compelled to discreetly cross the Colombian border to buy products that are not available in their country; they lined up to purchase basic necessities such as eggs and yogurt from megastores.

A few days earlier, an agreement was reached between President Nicolas Maduro and his Colombian counterpart Juan Santos to reopen the border previously shut by the Venezuelan government. The first hours following this decision were sufficient to disclose the seriousness of the crisis. According to the Colombian authorities, up to 90,000 people crossed the boundary to purchase food and medicine.

The latest decisions of the Venezuelan President to increase minimum wage 50 percent starting September 1 and to reopen the Colombian-Venezuelan border reveal that Maduro is seeking to regain the people’s trust, lost during the past years of social, economic and political crises. Moreover, he is trying to guarantee more supporters to win the referendum against him that the opposition is calling for.

Venezuelan mass media revealed that in the first half of 2016, inflation reached 176.2 percent. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) even expected it to exceed 700 percent by the end of 2016. IMF described this as “the worst growth and inflation performance around the world,” reported a local newspaper.

The National Electoral Council announced its determination to consider the opposition’s request after it submits a petition in favor of holding a referendum against the president. To achieve this, around four million Venezuelans must sign the request.

Maduro seems to be in control of everything in the country. This referendum is a huge risk; if elections take place this year and he loses, the national electoral council will call for new presidential elections. However if they are held in 2017, the vice president will take over the power till 2019.