Nicolas Maduro sworn in as Venezuela president — Maduro Inauguration

Lester Mason
January 11, 2019

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro was sworn in to a second term Thursday amid global calls for him to step down and a devastating economic crisis, but with some long-time friends in attendance both from overseas and at home. Maduro's second term comes just two days after the government announced it would be seeking to take over Venezuela's 49 per cent stake in the Petrojam refinery.

Maduro was re-elected last May in voting boycotted by the majority of the opposition and dismissed as a fraud by the United States, European Union and Organization of American States.

Former presidential candidate Luciana Genro said: "Only a corroded left can support Maduro at this time".

At the inauguration day, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Maduro's swearing in as president and called it an 'illegitimate usurpation of power'.

Since early morning, soldiers deployed onto the streets in the west of the capital where the Supreme Court is located amid heightened security. Hundreds of officials gathered inside the court's chambers cheered Maduro.

He blew kisses at a welcoming party of children waving yellow, blue and red Venezuelan flags, and saluted supporters looking down from the building's multi-tiered galleries. Canada has provided $2.2-million in humanitarian assistance to Venezuela and is a member of the Lima Group of countries that is trying to bring global pressure to bear on the South American country.

Maduro has meanwhile threatened "diplomatic measures" against his regional detractors if they refuse to recognise his re-election.

But Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel, Bolivian President Evo Morales and President Anatoli Bibilov of a breakaway province of Georgia were among the few foreign leaders who attended the ceremony at the country's Supreme Court. Mexico sent a low-level diplomat. Maduro was Venezuela's vice-president under Chavez, until Chavez's death in 2013.

While Maduro's popularity has plunged amid scarcities, hyperinflation and rising authoritarianism that have sparked a mass emigration, supporters who receive government subsidies in shantytowns continue to back him. The UN has said more than 5 million will have fled by the end of this year. But the country is marred by skyrocketing inflation, which rose 1.7m percent in 2018.

But his first term saw an exodus of millions of people escaping economic meltdown. Maduro remained squarely in power.

Many prominent opposition figures are either in jail or exile.

This only pushes further away the possibility of a constitutional negotiated solution while the political, economic and social situation in the country keeps getting worse and the impact of the crisis in the stability of the region is increasing.

Maduro claims sanctions cost the country $20 billion in 2018.

"He still has control of the institutions", Smilde said.

The economic collapse has thrown the nation of 30 million people into turmoil.

Anti-government riots in 2014 left 43 dead, and at least 125 people died in months of protests in 2017.

"Even as Jamaica took this vote, we were also represented by our embassy in Caracas at the swearing-in ceremony of President Maduro as a sign of our interest in remaining engaged with Venezuela, with which we maintain diplomatic relations".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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