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The ruling United Socialist Party of leader Nicolas Maduro won overwhelmingly Sunday’s local elections in Venezuela amid a very low turnout as most of the opposition was banned from the vote and most people preferred to spend the day trying to buy food and medicine in the crisis-stricken country that holds the biggest oil reserves in the world.
Only 27 percent of Venezuela’s 20 million voters bothered to go to the polls, and Maduro’s party won most of the 2,500 council seats up for grabs, according to Venezuelan authorities, who praised the vote as “strengthening Venezuela’s democracy.”
Maduro said that Venezuela is “consolidating its democracy” and in a speech on state television he accused the White House of trying to overthrow his regime.
“Despite the conspiracies that come from the White House to divide our country, we have a strong democracy,” Maduro said.
Despite Maduro’s claims of ‘strong democracy’ and ‘economic overhaul’, Venezuela’s economy and oil production are in free fall.
According to the IMF, Venezuela’s economy will collapse by 18 percent this year, while inflation is expected to be at 1,370,000 percent.
More than 3 million Venezuelan people have fled the country amid an aggravating humanitarian crisis and an extreme poverty rate of 40 percent.
The economic collapse adds to years of mismanagement and underinvestment in the oil industry to further complicate attempts in Venezuela, one of OPEC’s five founding members, to stop the steep decline of its oil production.
In October, Venezuela’s crude oil production plunged by another 40,000 bpd compared to September, to stand at just 1.171 million bpd, as per OPEC’s secondary sources. To compare, Venezuela’s oil production averaged 2.154 million bpd for 2016 and 1.911 million bpd for 2017.
OPEC will release production figures for November on December 12.
Last week, Maduro said that Venezuela would put in place in 2019 a program to sell all its oil production in the Petro cryptocurrency, which the leader is touting as the first state-backed oil-backed digital currency.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.