With Venezuela’s elections rescheduled to May 20, President Nicolás Maduro has a long road ahead of him in gaining the support of his citizens. Elections were originally intended to be held April 22, but the National Election Council (CNE) made a last minute decision to push the election date back by one month. The call for a snap election still has some suspecting it was to ensure Maduro’s victory while his opponents largely have no stable footing to run on or are banned from running. A key indicator of Maduro’s future success can be found in the municipal elections, which were held on December 10, 2017. Maduro’s socialist party won 300 of the 355 seats in the overwhelming majority of the municipalities.
By Jack Pannell
Nicolas Maduro, the President of Venezuela, has overseen a collapse of his country’s economy. It is undeniable that many in the country face a dire economic situation and that Maduro has wholly failed to remedy the crisis. Maduro has mismanaged the economy and his Constituent Assembly will serve more to consolidate his power than to solve the economic situation. It is essential to remain critical of the motives of the MUD opposition, but any criticism must also concede that the actions of Maduro, even if within a constitutional framework, are further polarising the country and risk the outbreak of armed conflict.
By Blake Burdge
Claiming victory over his opposition and perceived U.S.-backed imperialist efforts, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro celebrated the prevalence, last Sunday, of what he calls democratic efforts to bring peace to a country that has been struck with economic and political crises.
The Constituent Assembly election is not the beginning of Maduro’s unraveling of democracy in Venezuela; rather, it represents the beginning of the end. Since his thin victory in 2013, Maduro has chiseled away his country’s democratic institutions, postponing elections and delegitimizing the opposition’s constitutional effort to hold a presidential recall referendum. He has stacked the supreme court in his favor and recently has tried to strip the legislative power of the National Assembly, the only of the government’s three branches not controlled by his Chavista allies.
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.