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In many ways, the challenges faced by Hugo ChГЎvezв??s successor NicolГЎs Maduro are a continuation of those dating back to 1998. Nevertheless, the economic crisis caused by shortages and currency speculation is more intense than during the ChГЎvez presidency. The Maduro governmentв??s reaction both at the level of discourse and specific actions is also distinct in some ways. The panel will attempt to determine what elements are relatively new. It will discuss the governmentв??s activist role against business and political groups responsible for acute shortages, sharp price increases often far above that set by the government, currency speculation and refusal of the opposition to recognize the governmentв??s legitimacy.

The panel will also analyze the reaction of the radical current of the Chavista movement and many in the rank and file who fear that Maduroв??s overtures to the opposition signal a softening of government positions and possible concessions to powerful interests. The panel will also examine Maduroв??s record in combating corruption. In addition, the panel will discuss developments over the last year on the social front, specifically the amalgamation of community councils into communes and the attempts to promote worker participation in the decision making of state companies. Finally, the experiences of Chavista rule, and specifically over the last year, will be examined for what they tell us about the nature of the state in the democratic transition to socialism.