President Nicolas Maduro Moros
President Hugo Chavez died on 05 March 2013 at age 58 after a long struggle with cancer. Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who was chosen by Chavez as his successor, was expected to face opposition from Henrique Capriles in the upcoming election which was due to take place within 30 days. "It would be suicide" not to choose Capriles, said Governor of Lara State Henri Falcon, one of the opposition's three governors. He endorsed Capriles despite being seen by some as a possible rival. Without doubt that the Chavez team led by Vice-President Nicolas Maduro will win a victory. This is because the opposition continues to be in disarray, despite its seemingly good result at the presidential elections in October 2012, and Chavismo remains popular.
Venezuelan political parties prepared for intense campaigning ahead of the presidential election set for 14 April 2013 to replace Hugo Chavez. The date was announced by Venezuela's electoral commission one day after Chavez's vice president and chosen successor, Nicolas Maduro, was sworn in as acting president. Maduro faced opposition leader Henrique Capriles, the governor of Miranda state.
On 14 April 2013 Venezuela's Electoral Council declared Nicolas Maduro the winner of the nation's presidential election by a slim margin. But opposition candidate Henrique Capriles demanded a recount. National Electoral Council President Tibisay Lucena announced Maduro's victory with 50.7 percent of the vote, an estimated 235,000 ballots more than opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, who garnered 49.1 percent of the vote. Early in the campaign, Maduro held a significant lead in polls, but Capriles narrowed the gap in the final days of the campaign. His strong showing speaks to growing frustration in the country with double-digit inflation and a soaring crime rate.
Maduro vowed to continue the Chavez policies that cut poverty from 50 to 29 percent with popular health, education and food programs. On 15 November 2013 Venezuela's legislature voted to back President Nicolas Maduro's bid to rule by decree, a measure which would give him expanded powers over the economy. In an initial vote, 99 out of 165 members of Venezuela's National Assembly supported the bid that would allow the president to rule by decree, without having to seek parliamentary approval. A second vote to give final passage to the measure was set for November 19. Maduro requested the special powers last month, arguing that the special authority is needed to fight corruption and combat opponents who are waging "economic warfare" against his government. The president said the special powers would be used to impose caps on private sector profits and to crack down on speculators and would allow him "to protect wages, keep an eye on costs, protect price controls and put reasonable limits on profits, at every step of the economic ladder."
Former Chacao Mayor Leopoldo Lopez was a divisive figure within the opposition. He was often described as arrogant, vindictive, and power-hungry -- but observers also conceded his enduring popularity, charisma, and talent as an organizer. Lopez was administratively disqualified to run for office until 2014. Without any near- or medium-term electoral prospects, Lopez has focused on an effort to create "social networks" ("redes populares"), a grassroots structure that offers a social and political alternative to Chavismo. By early 2014 Lopez was leading a movement called “The Exit”, to use street mobilisations to force the government’s resignation.
López organized anti-government protests 12 February 2014 that turned violent. Three people were killed, including two opposition protesters. The next day Venezuelan forces used tear gas and water cannons against hundreds of student protesters angry at Maduro for soaring inflation, shortages in supermarkets, and rampant crime. Nearly 100 people were arrested in the week of protests.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro responded February 15, 2014 to ongoing opposition protests with a counter-demonstration by thousands of his supporters. President Maduro used the pro-government rally in Caracas to denounce López. At a large opposition march in Caracas 18 February 2014, far right leader Leopoldo Lopez handed himself in to the National Guard. Other large opposition and pro-government rallies and marches were held peacefully around the country. Bolivia's president Evo Morales called for an urgent meeting with the heads of state and foreign ministers of the member countries of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to set position on the "imperialist conspiracy that led to fascist actions in Venezuela" from February 12.
Continuing anti-government protests in Venezuela posed the greatest threat to the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro since the handpicked successor to the late Hugo Chavez narrowly won election to office in 2013. In this oil-rich country nearly everyone was angry about food shortages, soaring inflation, and the high crime rate but there were sharp divisions over who is to blame and how to fix the problems.
President Maduro said 25 March 2014 that three air force generals had been arrested for plotting an uprising against his left-wing government. He told a meeting of South American foreign ministers that the three generals had been in contact with the opposition and “were trying to rise up against the legitimately constituted government.” He added that the plot had been discovered because other officers had come forward. The latest disclosure came amid a broadening government crackdown against Maduro’s opponents after weeks of street protests have left 34 people dead.
Foreign ministers from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) were in Caracas, shuttling between the administration and opposition and seeking to persuade the two sides to talk. Some of Venezuela's opposition said 10 April 2014 it agreed to attend exploratory talks with Maduro's government to seek an end to the country's worst political unrest for a decade. Other hardline opposition groups, including the party of jailed protest leader Leopoldo Lopez, boycotted the dialogue while demonstrators remained in jail. The Vatican confirmed its willingness to mediate. Clashes between security forces and pro-government militants on one side and hooded opposition demonstrators blocking streets on the other had killed at least 39 people since mid-February 2014. At least 600 had been injured, and more than 2,000 been detained, with scores still behind bars.
Venezuelan government resigned on 19 August 2014 to allow the nation’s President Nicolas Maduro to reshuffle the cabinet, Vice President Jorge Arreaza said. “We decided together with our teams, vice presidents and ministers to tender resignations to President Nicolas Maduro to give him a free hand at taking steps in terms of the government’s reshuffle,” Noticias24 news agency quoted Arreaza as saying.
According to the vice president, the cabinet’s step-down was a truly “socialist” decision, aimed at improving the government’s efficiency and rooting out excessive bureaucracy and corruption in its midst. Maduro earlier announced his plans to reshuffle the cabinet, which he described as a “revolution in a revolution.” He said the ultimate goal was a complete overhaul of the executive in order to put it into the people’s service. The Venezuelan leader told the media that his 78-year-old Cuban economic advisor and a lifetime ally of Ernesto Che Guevara, Orlando Borrego, was to help him in this ambitious undertaking.
On 04 December 2014, Venezuelan opposition leader, Maria Corina Machado met with prosecutors who told her she would be charged with conspiracy for involvement in a plot to kill Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The charge carries a maximum of 16 years in prison. Machado says the government "has no proof, because it's absolutely false." In March 2014, government authorities announced an investigation into a plot against Maduro and other government officials involving Machado and other opposition figures.
Venezuelan police arrested Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma 20 February 2015 after the government accused the opposition leader of helping plan what it says was a US-backed coup against the socialist government. Ledezma's arrest came almost exactly a year after opposition protests spread throughout Venezuela, leading to clashes between demonstrators and police that killed dozens of people. Ledezma had participated in those protests.
Venezuela's parliament granted President Nicolas Maduro new powers 15 March 2015, enabling him to legislate by decree until the end of the year. He said parliament's action would allows him to defend the country from threats from the US government. Maduro asked for the expanded powers after the US placed sanctions on several Venezuelan officials accused of human rights violations. Opposition leaders said the new powers are nothing more than a power grab designed to detract attention from Venezuela's domestic issues, including food shortages.
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