The Guardian view on Venezuela: its people deserve better | Editorial

Nicolás Maduro has failed his country. Now the US response has raised the stakes

Venezuela’s people deserve better than president Nicolás Maduro or reckless US-led intervention. The country is in the grip of a spiralling political, economic and humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands have taken to the streets. As many as three million citizens – a 10th of its population – have fled. Almost 90% of those who remain live in poverty. The economy is shrinking fast, while the IMF predicts that hyperinflation could hit 10,000,000% this year. With food and medicine shortages widespread, there has been a surge in levels of malnutrition and the re-emergence of diseases such as malaria and diphtheria. The murder rate is sky-high.

Mr Maduro and his allies have overseen this collapse, yet maintained a tight grip on power. When the opposition triumphed in elections for the national assembly in 2015, he stripped the body of its powers and set up the National Constituent Assembly instead through dubious elections. Last year he won an equally dodgy presidential vote boycotted by the opposition. Opposition leaders are jailed or have fled into exile; protesters have been arbitrarily detained and tortured. While some still believe Mr Maduro continues the work of his charismatic predecessor, Hugo Chávez, even many Chavistas have turned against him. An unpopular president relies on control of the judiciary and military support.

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