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Venezuela's economic crisis is now a life-or-death situation

Tension in Venezuela remains high as the economic crisis which has engulfed the country shows little sign of abating. The government and the opposition blame each other for the dire state of the economy. Venezuela's inflation rate, which already is the world's highest, is expected to rise to a staggering 1,660% next year, the International Monetary Fund predicts. The opposition-led National Assembly has voted to open a "political trial" against President Nicolas Maduro, a move which the president dismissed as "illegitimate". Each side has accused the other of coup-mongering. Here, we look more in depth at the problems facing Venezuela and its president.  

Venezuela is split into Chavistas, the name given to the followers of the socialist policies of the late President Hugo Chavez, and those who cannot wait to see an end to the 17 years in power of his United Socialist Party (PSUV). After the socialist leader died in 2013, Nicolas Maduro, also of the PSUV, was elected president on a promise to continue Mr Chavez's policies. Chavistas praise the two men for using Venezuela's oil riches to markedly reduce inequality and for lifting many Venezuelans out of poverty. But the opposition says that since it came to power in 1999, the PSUV has eroded Venezuela's democratic institutions and mismanaged its economy. 

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