Drug money keeps Venezuelan military in Maduro’s corner

General Vladimir Padrino and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (R) chose General Vladimir Padrino to join him in a “Civilian-Military Joint Command” tasked with distributing food and medicine (source: dpa)
  • President Maduro’s grip on power looks increasingly tenuous
  • Because he has the military on his side, social unrest is unlikely to unseat him
  • The regime will only fall if the military is allowed to keep its drug trade profits

Venezuela is in dire straits – just look at the statistics. The International Monetary Fund expects its gross domestic product (GDP) to decline by 10 percent this year. Inflation is running at more than 700 percent. The country’s single source of funding, state-owned oil and natural gas company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), has seen its debt grow from $3 billion to $43 billion in five years. The state’s huge budget deficit (close to 20 percent by the end of last year) explains why it is accepting heavily discounted payments on debt owed by the PetroCaribe alliance, an organization that allows member countries to purchase Venezuelan oil at preferential rates.

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