President Nicolas Maduro has declared a 60-day state of emergency in Venezuela on 13 May, giving him extended authority to deal with the current economic crisis in his country. He has cited threats from within his country as well as from the US for imposing the measure.
According to Reuters, Maduro has not provided any details of the emergency. When a similar emergency was imposed in states near the Colombian border in 2015, he had suspended constitutional rights in those areas and retained only the guarantees in connection to human rights.
Maduro, who is determined to stay in power until his term ends in 2019, has accused the US of stirring a coup d'etat attempt against him with the help of right wing opposition leaders.
"Washington is activating measures at the request of Venezuela's fascist right, who are emboldened by the coup in Brazil," Maduro said during a broadcast on state television, in reference to this week's impeachment proceedings against fellow leftist from Brazil Dilma Rousseff.
The opposition has come down heavily on the president. "Today, Maduro has again violated the constitution," opposition lawmaker Tomas Guanipa has said. "Why? Because he is scare of being recalled."
The crisis in Venezuela has been worsening with many protesters blaming Maduro's governance and economic policies for electricity cuts, high inflation, and food and medicine shortages. Many people had even resorted to looting food items from supermarkets as basic products had run short.
A Reuters report says two US officials briefed reporters in Washington about growing concerns over Venezuela's possible meltdown on the economic and political fronts. America's concerns include doubts if Maduro would even allow a referendum vote to decide if he can stay in office.
As public demonstrations increased on 11 May, tear gas was used against a group of protesters as they marched through the capital Caracas demanding that electoral officials allow a recall referendum against Maduro.