As protests swell, Venezuela spirals into ‘deep economic crisis’
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Venezuela is diving deeper into crisis as citizens prepare for a mega march Wednesday against President Nicolas Maduro.
The IMF didn’t sugarcoat its updated economic outlook for Venezuela on Tuesday.
“Venezuela remains mired in a deep economic crisis,” IMF authors wrote in its World Economic Outlook.
Unemployment is set to surpass 25% this year, possibly on its way to 28% next year. It was at 7.4% in 2015.
Venezuela’s economy shrank a massive 18% last year — its third year of recession and it’s expected to be in the red this year, and next too.
The IMF’s prediction for inflation in Venezuela is pretty bad, but better than previous expectations: It’s expected to skyrocket 720% this year — somehow only half of the previous forecast. But if Venezuela stays on its current path, the IMF predicts inflation will rise over 2000% in 2018.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg.
Protestors have taken to the streets in recent weeks after Maduro’s administration barred opposition leader Henrique Capriles from holding any political office for the next 15 years. At least four people have been killed in violent protests since April 1.
Another mega march is set for Wednesday, and Maduro has called the army to patrol the streets.
Venezuelans have struggled for years with food and medical shortages, and — more recently — skyrocketing prices on all types of goods, as hyperinflation wipes out salaries and the value of the currency, the bolivar.
They have demanded Maduro step down as any signs of democracy have washed away. His loyalist-backed Supreme Court tried to strip the opposition-led National Assembly of its powers, but quickly reversed course after severe public outcry. The Supreme Court has blocked all reforms from opposition lawmakers.
Maduro is facing pressure from overseas too.
President Trump tweeted in February that Maduro should release his biggest adversary from prison, Leopoldo Lopez, who has been in jail since 2014. The US has also slapped sanctions on Maduro’s vice president, Tareck El Aissami, for alleged drug trafficking.
The Organization of American States, which includes every government in the western hemisphere, demanded in March that Venezuela hold democratic elections or face suspension from the group.
Maduro’s peers in Latin America — long silent on the country’s crises — are starting to speak out too.
“They are not fulfilling what we consider human rights,” Argentina’s President, Mauricio Macri, told CNN earlier in April. “I am really worried about what is going on.”