CARACAS: Opposition leader Henrique Capriles accused Venezuela’s “incompetent” President Nicolas Maduro yesterday of bankrupting the nation in an increasingly radical blame-game over the OPEC member’s economic distortions.
Since late socialist leader Hugo Chavez died of cancer in February, the economy has joined crime as Venezuelans’ top concerns. Prices are soaring at an annualized 45 percent, a black market for dollars is booming, and basic goods from flour to toilet-paper are often scarce.
A self-declared “son” of Chavez, the 50-year-old Maduro says local opponents, backed by the United States and cheered by compliant foreign media, are deliberately “sabotaging” the economy in an attempt to bring down his government.
“There’s a criminal war against the Venezuelan people. They want to lead us to chaos, division and confusion,” he again said at the weekend, accusing three just-expelled US diplomats of lending cash, logistics and planning to the cause against him.
Capriles, who narrowly lost an April vote to Maduro and has refused to recognise him, said the president’s tolerance of corruption among his team, adherence to a failed socialist model, and personal incapacity, were to blame. Though said by one fellow opposition leader this week to be facing imminent arrest by the government, Capriles, 40, held nothing back in a blistering Sunday column. “I warn you, Nicolas,” he said, using the informal Spanish “tu” not the “usted” a president would usually be addressed by. REUTERS