|Maduro’s First 100 Days in Office Marked by Street Government, Latin American Integration, Economic Debate|
|Written by Sascha Bercovitch|
|Monday, 29 July 2013 14:04|
Nicolas Maduro has completed his first 100 days since being sworn in as president on April 18, a period marked by his new street government initiative, Latin American solidarity, and debate over spiked inflation and moderate economic growth.
Maduro’s presidency began amidst protest and claims of electoral fraud from Venezuela’s political opposition, who continue to reject the results of the April 14 presidential election in which Maduro won 50.6% of the vote, a 1.6% margin over Henrique Capriles. Since then, polls conducted during his administration have pegged his approval rating around 56%.
A key political initiative of Maduro was his Street Government program, in which he and his cabinet traveled progressively to all states in order to meet with grassroots organisation and regional officials. The program, which began in Zulia state at the end of April, oversaw the approval of numerous projects ranging from environmental issues to crime, and included Maduro’s first expropriation.
The first stage of the initiative concluded this past Tuesday in Monagas state, where Maduro announced that the keys to its consolidation would be carrying out the approved projects and the construction of communes.
Internationally, Maduro carried on the efforts of late President Hugo Chavez to build cooperation among Latin American nations, through participating in meetings of PetroCaribe and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and assuming the presidency of the Southern Common Market (Mercosur).
Though he embarked on a tour through several European nations and initiated talks with the United States for the first time in three years, relations cooled considerably after four European countries prevented the plane of Bolivian President Evo Morales from entering their airspace following false information that US whistleblower Edward Snowden was on board. Maduro subsequently offered Snowden political asylum, and later broke off conversations with the US after controversial statements from nominee as Envoy to the United Nations Samantha Power.
However, US Economist Mark Weisbrot, co-founder of the Center for Economic Policy and Research (CEPR), pointed out on Tuesday that monthly inflation for June had declined to 4.7%, a sign that “inflation will [continue to] decrease and the economy will grow.”
He also noted the government’s efforts to reform its exchange rate system through its newly launched Complimentary System of Foreign Currency Acquirement (Sicad), which auctions US dollars to individuals and companies. The program aims to reduce the discrepancy between the official exchange rate for US dollars, at 6.3 bolivars per dollar, and the black market rate, which has risen to 34 bolivars per dollar.
According to Luis Vicente León, president of the independent polling firm Datanálisis, Maduro’s governance represents a “rare mix of political radicalization with attempts of economic moderation, with neither of the two being consolidated.”
Maduro expressed hope that the consolidation of these initiated programs would keep his government moving forward.