By Madeline Asta

Venezuela began exporting oil in the beginning of the 20th century, and since then has built its economy on the revenue from its oil exports. Supported by its vast oil reserves, Venezuela rose to the position of the richest country in Latin America in 1970, but its economy was vulnerable to fluctuating oil prices. In the 1980s and 1990s, Venezuela sat on 60 billion barrels of oil. By 2010, it had 297 billion barrels in reserve, making it the country with the world’s largest crude oil reserves. However, when oil prices fell in the 1980s, Venezuela’s economy suffered greatly, due to 90 percent of its export revenue consisting of oil exports. When Hugo Chavez came into power in 1991, he brought with him a socialist revolution. To restore economic development, Chavez nationalized the country’s oil, healthcare, and food industries. He used oil export revenue to fund social programs as well as food subsidies for the poor, and supplied essential goods at low prices by importing them. Combined with high international oil prices during that period, Chavez’s economic system functioned well.


By Alexia Rauen

María de Jesús Patricio Martínez is an indigenous healer running for the Mexican presidency. Her hope is to fight Mexico’s rampant corruption by altering the system in which political parties, such as the Institutional Revolution Party (PRI) and the National Action Party (PAN), have dominated for decades. While it is unlikely she will be competitive with national icon Andrés Manuel López Obrador and other big-party candidates, her candidacy still represents a significant movement within Mexico’s political system.