Despite the controversy that surrounds the legitimacy of the last elections in Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro looks set on his second term in office from Thursday.
Venezuela is faced with a paralysing economic crisis as its citizens battle to make ends meet and survive daily.
The international community came out guns blazing in criticising the last elections in May 2018 as they were not deemed to be free and fair.
But Maduro, the Socialist Party leader, is now to be inaugurated and insists the elections were fair. It was claimed that leaders of Maduro’s party paid cash to voters at polling stations, in some instances openly doing so.
Opposition parties in Venezuela boycotted the vote in a country that is known as the world’s biggest oil exporter, yet poorer. Venezuela is a member of OPEC and has a license as an oil exporter until 2025.
The Socialist Party, using mainly social media, has called for rallies in support of the inauguration while opposition leaders see Thursday’s event as a mark of “an internationally recognised dictatorship.”
Many states around the globe branded the elections as one big farce.
Maduro, who has army’s support, has been leading a crackdown on his dissidents while the opposition is chronically divided in the deeply polarised country.
The strongman, claiming his critics want to destabilise Venezuela, has targeted those criticising him and is running a smear campaign against him. He also lashed out at his critics in the international community.
“They’ve tried to turn a constitutional swearing-in ceremony into a world war. But whether there’s rain, thunder or lightning, we’re going to triumph,” Maduro said on Wednesday during a press conference.
He announced he could take “diplomatic measures” against a group of Latin American nations called Group of Lima including Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia, which labelled Maduro’s second term as “illegitimate.”
The Lima countries, who regarded the 2018 elections as not free and fair, declared they would not recognise Maduro’s leadership.
Maduro, who calls the group a “cartel” warned the countries to take “the crudest and energetic measures in diplomacy,” while he did not give further details on what measures he aimed to take.
Turkey to attend the inauguration
The vast majority of the countries around the world including the United States and Venezuela’s neighbours in Latin America which condemned the vote of May 2018, will not send diplomats to the inauguration, diplomatic sources said.
Despite the international standoff, Maduro’s government has received support from Turkey, with Vice-President Fuat Oktay attending the inauguration.
Oktay, speaking at Simon Bolivar Airport, said Turkey and Venezuela will have the opportunity to develop bilateral relations and discuss regional developments, Yeni Şafak, a pro-Turkish government daily reported.
Activists against Maduro have calling on protesters to come out against the inauguration on Thursday. This is in response to government authorities implementing severe security measures by setting many police checkpoints and deploying armed troops.
Millions have fled Venezuela as it battles economically
The inflation rate in Venezuela, as it continues to battle economically, is now fast approaching two million percent. While the devaluation of the Venezuelan Bolivar fell to the level of 794.57930 against $1 dollar. This means a monthly minimum wage is worth less than a dozen eggs.
Due to the deepening crisis, nearly three million people have left the country since 2015 to escape malnutrition and disease, the United Nations has said.