Venezuela. For the first time since 1999, Venezuela received a majority on December 6 that was not dominated by the Venezuelan Socialist Party (PSUV), whose predecessor was formed in 1997 by the late President Hugo Chávez. The current president, Chávez’s hand-picked successor Nicolás Maduro, quickly acknowledged the party’s defeat. The Opposition Alliance The Democratic Alliance (MUD) victory was designated as historic and a milestone in Venezuela’s political development. PSUV’s defeat was particularly evident in the high turnout, above 74%, and not particularly unexpected. The PSUV has gradually weakened under Maduro, who is not considered on the long road to have the same charismatic ability to mobilize his constituents as Chávez.
The position of the opposition in Congress gives it the opportunity to implement several institutional changes that have been wanted for several years; dismissal of government members, approval of the budget and appointments to several important social agencies.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Caracas is the capital of Venezuela which is located in South America. The political climate was tense throughout the year and concerns about increased tensions after the election results were evident. In February, Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, one of the most radical opponents of President Maduro, was arrested accused of preparing a coup against Maduro. Nine soldiers were arrested at about the same time at the same time. It was not better that one of the opposition candidates, Luís Manuel Díaz, was murdered in the middle of an election in the state of Guárico two weeks before Election Day. Already in February, a 14-year-old was killed by one of the police’s rubber bullets during a demonstration meeting in San Cristóbal in western Venezuela. In the past, harassment by PSUV’s sympathizers to opposition members was not uncommon. In September, Leopoldo López, another of the opposition’s leading figures, was also sentenced.
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An important reason for the opposition’s victory in the December congressional elections was the worrying economic situation in the country. Inflation was Latin America’s highest with 68% on an annual basis in 2014, and President Maduro himself was forced to admit after the price increases accelerated in February that inflation in 2015 was likely to reach 85%, while a low oil price put the country into deep recession and payments on external debt amounted to $ 13 billion. The financial problems as a result of reduced state income meant that the government’s efforts and promises during the election campaign could not be financed, which greatly contributed to the electoral dissatisfaction and the opposition’s victory. President Maduro, for his part, claimed that the United States waged an economic war against Venezuela.
Increased tensions with neighboring Colombia were seen by the opposition as a way to divert attention from the economy. Among other things, the state of emergency was introduced in the border state of Táchira, which was then extended to after the December election, which the opposition claimed was a way of making it difficult for its election campaign in the region. However, President Maduro argued that security concerns caused by the increased activities of Colombian paramilitaries and gangs in Venezuelan territory were behind the decision.
Chávez was a key proponent of uniting the OPEC countries to seize production and raise oil prices in 2000. Chávez opposed the US global position of power, openly criticizing the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. This sharply soured relations between Venezuela and the government to President George W. Bush.
Well-aided by large oil resources, and in seeking to build up a counter-force to US influence in Latin America, Venezuela was a proponent of establishing a series of alliances and cooperation agreements between left-wing governments throughout the 2000s, including the Bolivarian Alliance for ALBA the Peoples of Our America), Petrocaribe, Petrosur, and collaborative health and education agreements.
Oil diplomacy also extended to the United States, when Citgo, Venezuela’s US-based branch of the oil company PDVSA, in 2005 delivered subsidized oil to poor residents of the Bronx, New York.
In 2003, Cuba and Venezuela signed an agreement that brought 30,000 Cuban doctors to Venezuela in exchange for oil. In 2006, Venezuela was accepted as a full member of the South American Free Trade Organization Mercosur. Venezuela also signed a number of cooperation agreements outside Latin America, including technology and agricultural development, oil sales and arms purchases, with countries such as Iran, Belarus and Russia.
Chávez’s death and legacy
Hugo Chávez died on March 5, 2013 at the military hospital Fuerte Tiuna in Caracas of an unspecified type of cancer in the stomach region. He turned 58 years old.
There is considerable disagreement among scientists and observers about how to characterize the legacy of Chávez. The disagreement is rooted in the development that is most emphasized, interpretations of the historical and geopolitical context of Chávez’s reign, and interpretations of the conflict dynamics between the government and the opposition.
Some key features can be highlighted. Chávez’s reign highlighted the previously marginalized poor and colored part of the population, both economically, politically and socially. In 2013, the official poverty rate was 27.3 percent, down from 44 percent when he won the 1998 election.
During the period 2003-2013, Venezuela saw steady economic growth, both in the oil-based and non-oil-based part of the economy. However, much of this growth can be attributed to historically high oil prices and large government investment. Poor management of companies taken over by the state under Chávez later contributed to an economic crisis after Maduro took over.
Chavez’s original 1998 pledge to fight corruption, one of the underlying causes of the current crisis, was also not fulfilled. At the same time, attempts to reform the police, justice and prison system, as well as the fight against the underlying causes of crime, also fail. Corruption, drug traffic originating in Colombia, and profound socio-economic inequalities are key factors here.
The Chávez era also led to a centralization of power in the presidential office, and an increasing entry of military into political and economic positions of power. This had its roots in the doctrine of a civil-military alliance that was central to the Chávez government, which also meant strengthening and militarizing the home security force called the Bolivarian militia (la milicia bolivariana).