- Title: Maduro marks four years in power amidst strains on Socialist revolution
- Date: 18th April 2017
- Summary: MADURO CHANTING "VIVA TO VICTORY FOREVER" FROM STAGE AT EVENT
- Embargoed: 2nd May 2017 20:12
- Keywords: President Nicolas Maduro Venezuela anniversary Hugo Chavez opposition socialism
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA00C6CXFN7N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, a former bus driver and self-declared "son" of late leftist predecessor Hugo Chavez, will mark four years in power in the OPEC nation this week amidst strains on the Bolivarian revolution under the weight of product shortages, three-digit inflation and cries of dictatorship from a restless protest movement demanding elections.
A recent opinion poll for the 54-year-old have just under 20 percent of Venezuelans supporting Maduro. His critics blame a failing socialist system, whereas the government says its enemies are waging an "economic war". The fall in oil prices since mid-2014 has exacerbated the crisis.
A former bus driver and trade union leader, Maduro entered the political arena in 2000 when he was elected to the National Assembly.
From 2006-2013, he was the Minister of Foreign Affairs and was named Chavez's vice president in 2012.
Chavez named Maduro as his successor on December 8, just days before returning to Havana for a fourth round of cancer surgery. Maduro became the face of the Venezuelan government. He gave the country status reports on Chavez, welcomed Latin American leaders and, finally, announced Chavez' death on March 5, 2013.
Chavez' appointment of Maduro as his successor still holds weight for many in the nation.
Still, Maduro won a special election on April 14, 2013, only narrowly beating Miranda governor Henrique Capriles.
His critics argue the president does hold the charisma and sway of his predecessor Chavez.
Meanwhile, under Maduro's leadership, Venezuela plunged into an economic crisis. Inflation skyrocketed and shortages of basic goods, including food and medicine, resulted in long lines at supermarkets and pharmacies. Sporadic looting even broke out.
The unrest has opened the way for the opposition to win control of the National Assembly at the end of 2015.
Last month, Maduro was decried as a "dictator" after the country's Supreme Court passed down judgement to take over the functions of the opposition-controlled Congress. Although the decision has since been annulled, it has pushed a lengthy political stand-off between government and opposition supporters to new heights.
A recent decision to ban popular opposition leader Henrique Capriles from participating in 2018 elections has further frayed tensions.
Last year, the opposition pushed for a referendum to recall Maduro and force a new presidential election, but authorities thwarted them and also postponed local electoral races that were supposed to have been held in 2016.
The Venezuelan leader has vowed to see his term through, however, blasting opposition politicians as coup-mongering elitists backed by imperialists in Washington.
Maduro's term in office is set to end in January 2019.
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