Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro told media his government will announce a contingency plan to address the country’s “economic emergency” Tuesday, the same day lawmakers in the new opposition-led Congress are set to be sworn into the National Assembly. The country is in economic turmoil, weathering skyrocketing inflation and widespread food shortages that have sparked criticism of Maduro’s leadership.
Although he is not up for re-election until 2018, Maduro’s Socialist Party suffered a severe defeat in December when the Mesa de la Unidad Democratica (MUD) coalition swept up a “supermajority” in the legislative elections, the Financial Times reported. Protests against the government swept through Caracas Tuesday as the La Hoyada trend on Twitter worldwide.
— 360 Mundo (@360mundo) January 5, 2016
A march, organized by the MUD, began around the La Hoyada subway station, where large crowds of protestors began rallying in support of the opposition's appointment to the National Assembly. The government sent out a police force to monitor the situation, and officials shut down several of the city's subway stations in response.
“In the coming hours we will activate a contingency plan for the adoption and revision [of measures] in the field of economy — on the construction of a productive economy in the national, regional and local scale,” Maduro told the Venezuelan AVN news agency, according to Sputnik. “We are going to activate an emergency plan and reconstruct our economy.”
Late in December, Maduro’s government pushed through a set of laws, implementing a tax reform on big capital and appointing 13 Supreme Court justices whom Maduro’s opponents have criticized for being supportive of his policies. Henry Ramos, the incoming Congress president, called for Maduro’s resignation and said the move would save the country from a political crisis, the Associated Press reported.
“The people put their trust in us, and we can’t just go home and knit booties to avoid conflict,” Ramos told the media Monday. “We must wield our power.”
— Enver Conde Ferrer (@EnverConde) January 5, 2016
On Monday, Maduro blasted the new right-wing Congress, warning it would privatize the country’s productive sector, including its state-run oil and telecommunications companies, TeleSUR reported. Maduro also scoffed at recent remarks made by U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby, who had expressed worry that Maduro’s government would “interfere with the newly elected National Assembly exercising its constitutionally mandated duties.”