Venezuela is long overdue for economic adjustment after decades of fiscal mismanagement. The country's national currency is in a downward spiral and citizens in urban areas struggle to obtain basic staples —all while South America's fifth largest economy is saddled with $10.3 billion in debt obligations.
To remedy this, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro took the logical first step: violently arresting the mayor of Caracas for opposing him.
The real problem, Maduro explained in a 10-minute tirade on live Venezuelan state television last weekend, is the "media campaign of manipulation, hatred and lies against Venezuela." His evidence? For one, this satirical riff of the state coat of arms by cartoonist "Vladdo" Florez, where the shield now displays a depleted cornucopia and starving horse.
On Venezuelan TV, Maduro unintentionally validates Vladdo's cartoon and inspires many more
Replace "media campaign of manipulation and lies against Venezuela" with "fiscal policy of manipulation and lies against Venezuela" and you may actually get a better picture of what is troubling Venezuela. The Venezuelan government has spent billions in oil revenue and seriously compromised its own private sector through various price controls and expropriating companies.
But rest assured: Maduro isn't completely ignoring Venezuela's crisis. He's holding out for divine intervention.
"We have serious economic difficulties regarding the country’s revenue," Maduro admitted to the National Assembly in his State of the Nation address, "But God will always be with us. God will provide. And we will get, and we have gotten, the resources to maintain the country’s rhythm."
But Maduro's not South American president who has resorted to suppressing critics for questioning institutional problems. In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa has met critics with similar histrionics.
Andy is a graphics editor and cartoonist at Fusion.