Nicolas Maduroはベネズエラを凶漢の国家にしようとしている。 独裁主義にしようとする不人気の体制の試みは悲惨な結果に終わるだろう。(2)

Generalised price controls had generated widespread shortages and embarrassingly long queues. Instead, the government has put the army in charge of a subsidised food-distribution system, known as CLAP and modelled on Cuba’s ration book. Up to 30% of families get this dole of staple products regularly, reckons Asdrubal Oliveros of Ecoanalitica, an economic consultancy. They are chosen not according to need but according to their political importance to the government. 

reckons :と推測する

On the breadline
At the same time, the government has relaxed price controls (bread is an exception). In Catia’s main market, which spills into the surrounding streets, food is abundant, but pricey. A chicken costs 7,600 bolivares and bananas 1,200 a kilo. Most people don’t have dollars to change on the black market: they must live on the minimum wage of 250,000 bolivares. The result is that four out of five households were poor last year, their income insufficient to cover basic needs, according to a survey by three universities. Medicines remain scarce. Walk down many streets in Caracas and you may be approached by a beggar. 


All this has taken a heavy toll on the government’s support. Mr Maduro won only 50.6% of the vote in a presidential election in 2013, a result questioned by his opponent, Henrique Capriles. In a parliamentary election in December 2015 the opposition won a two-thirds majority—enough to censure ministers and change the constitution. 

take a toll:大きな被害[打撃]を与える

In the government’s eyes, the opposition is bent on overthrowing an elected president—the aim of protests in 2014, after which Leopoldo Lopez, an opposition leader, was jailed on trumped-up charges. In response, it has resorted to legal chicanery. If Chavez often violated the letter of his own constitution, Mr Maduro tore it up. 


Before the new parliament took over, the government used the old one to preserve its control of the supreme court by replacing justices due to retire. The court then unseated three legislators, eliminating the opposition’s two-thirds majority. Mr Maduro has ruled by decree. The tame electoral tribunal quashed an opposition attempt to trigger a referendum to recall the president—a device Chavez put in the constitution. It postponed regional elections due to take place last December. 

take over:引き継ぐ
by decree:法令で
electoral tribunal:選挙裁判所

In March the court issued decrees stripping the parliament of all powers. That seemed to be because foreign investors take more seriously than the government a constitutional provision under which only the parliament can approve foreign loans. Although partially withdrawn, the decrees were the trigger for a confrontation that continues. They opened up fractures in chavismo—notably the public opposition of Luisa Ortega, the attorney-general since 2007 (who had jailed Mr Lopez). Mr Maduro’s announcement on May 1st that he would convene the constituent assembly intensified both trends.


Chavez’s constitution was drawn up by a democratically elected constituent assembly, convoked by referendum. Mr Maduro is following a script from Mussolini. He has called the assembly by decree. It will have a “citizen, worker, communal and peasant-farmer” character, he said. What this means is that 181 members will be chosen by government-controlled “sectoral” groups such as students, fishermen and unions. Another 364 members will be directly elected, but in gerrymandered fashion: each of Venezuela’s 340 municipalities will choose one. Small towns are under the government’s thumb; cities, where the opposition is a majority, will get only one extra representative. 

under someone's thumb:(人)の言いなりになって

Datanalisis, a reliable pollster, finds that two-thirds of respondents reject the constituent assembly, more than 80% think it unnecessary to change the constitution and only 23% approve of Mr Maduro. At just two weeks’ notice, on July 16th almost 7.5m Venezuelans turned out for an unofficial plebiscite organised by the opposition. Almost all of them voted to reject the assembly, to call on the army to defend the constitution and for a presidential election by next year (when one is due). 


Few doubt that the assembly will be a puppet-body and the vote on July 30th, which the opposition will boycott, will be inflated. The government counts on the 4.5m people who are employed in the public sector or in communal bodies. Those who fail to turn out risk losing not just their job but their CLAP food rations. Additional pressure to vote in chavista neighbourhoods comes from the colectivos—regime-sponsored armed thugs on motorbikes. Officials have said the assembly will not only write a new constitution but will assume supreme power, sacking Ms Ortega and replacing the parliament, whose building it will occupy. It will give Mr Maduro a slightly larger figleaf than the supreme court for a dictatorship of the minority.


Yet the president will find it hard to make this stick. “How do you govern the country with 75% against you?” asks Mr Capriles. “I think he’s trapped.” For the past four months the opposition has held almost daily protests. These have a ritual quality. To prevent demonstrators reaching the city centre, or blocking the main motorway through Caracas, the National Guard fires volleys of tear gas, buckshot—and occasionally bullets. 

make ~ stick:確実にする

Younger radicals, known as the “Resistance”, press forward, throwing stones from behind makeshift shields. Similar scenes take place across the country. Looting is commonplace. In these clashes, over 100 people have died. More than 400 protesters are now prisoners, including several opposition politicians. After the parliament named 33 justices to a rival supreme court on July 21st, the government arrested three of them. 

makeshift :その場しのぎの

Resistance isn’t futile
Mr Maduro has more worries. The first is his own side. Chavista strongholds are wavering. In the bread queue in Catia, several people say they are against the assembly. The opposition managed to set up voting stations for its plebiscite there: at one, a woman died when a colectivo fired on voters. “Some people have left us and gone over to the other side,” admits a local official. “But it’s very difficult for a chavista to support the opposition,” she adds. Chavez is still viewed favourably by 53% of Venezuelans, according to Datanalisis.


Rather, a new movement of “critical” or “democratic” chavistas, including Ms Ortega, several former ministers and recently retired generals, has publicly called for the scrapping of the assembly and the upholding of the constitution. When they held a press conference at a modest hotel on July 21st, some 300 regime supporters outside tried to drown them out with loud music and chants of “traitors”.

drown out:かき消す

Then there is the army. The regime has co-opted it, turning it into a faction-ridden, politicised and top-heavy moneymaking operation, with more than 2,000 generals (where 200 used to suffice). Mr Maduro has given them control over food imports and distribution, ports and airports, a bank and the mining industry. Many generals have grown rich by buying dollars at the lowest official exchange rate of $1=10 bolivares, intended for food imports, and selling them at the black market rate of 9,000. Others smuggle petrol or drugs.




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