Venezuela’s Supreme Court last week unseated the country’s legislature, the National Assembly — then took the ruling back on Saturday, under orders from President Nicolas Maduro. But this still leaves the nation spiraling down into chaos.
Food is increasingly scarce, with the government attempting to draft citizens into forced labor on farms. Criminal gangs range the countryside. Hospitals lack not just medicines, but sufficient water to clean bloody operating tables.
Yet Maduro is focused only on keeping power. And he holds lots of cards: His late predecessor, Hugo Chavez, purged the courts and the military leadership, then packed both with party loyalists — and also negotiated a deal to send oil to Cuba in exchange for reliable secret policemen.
The opposition won control of the National Assembly in late 2015 — but the Supreme Court has since struck down pretty much every measure the lawmakers have passed.
Yet the high court’s decision Wednesday to unseat the entire National Assembly, and itself take control of all legislative power, was still a shock. The opposition called it a coup, and rightly so; the Organization of American States was set to meet Monday to consider extraordinary action. …