The supporters of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro hold giant banners during a demonstration in the capital, Caracas, October 18, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of the Venezuelan capital to express support for President Nicolas Maduro’s 2017 budget, which has bypassed parliamentary review.
Holding Venezuela’s national flags and placards with the image of late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, the large crowds marched on the streets of Caracas on Tuesday.
The rally, which was organized by the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), saw participation by supporters from various states.
Maduro signed off on the budget on Friday. It will reportedly put over 73 percent of 2017’s annual budget into state social programs in such areas as housing, health, and education.
“Today, we’re on the streets once more to lend our support to the budget [plan], to approve of the budget presented by President Maduro, who established that over 73 percent of the budget will go to social causes,” Diosdado Cabello, a former speaker of the National Assembly of Venezuela, told reporters during the march.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (C) attends a ceremony to sign off on the 2017 national budget at the National Pantheon in Caracas, Venezuela, October 14, 2016. (Photo by Reuters)
The manner with which the budget was approved has, however, come under intense objection by the Venezuelan opposition. The country’s government-allied Supreme Court of Justice, known as the TSJ, had ruled that one of its own auditing committees review the budget, meaning that the opposition-led National Assembly was effectively bypassed.
The opposition, which has been pushing for a referendum this year to legally remove Maduro, saw the Supreme Court’s decision as a breach of the constitution.
Maduro was elected in April 2013. His term runs until 2019.
The country’s economy was almost run into the ground recently as acute shortages of basic supplies, including foodstuffs and medicine, hit the people so hard they had to walk through the border to neighboring Colombia to purchase such goods.
Maduro, who stands accused of having caused the country’s acute recession, defiantly blames the problems on an “economic war” that he says foreign countries have waged against Venezuela. He also repeatedly accuses the opposition of seeking to stage a coup orchestrated by the US to oust him. This is while the opposition has been following constitutional mechanisms — under the Maduro government itself — to have him ousted.