By Laura Schroeder
As violence continues in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, more light has been shed on Russia’s presence across the globe over the past decade. In Latin America, Russian efforts to expand its influence to challenge the hegemonic power of the United States have revealed a decades-long reassessment of its strategic interactions in the region. After the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from Latin America in the 1990s, Russia has gradually been reengaging with the region, from rekindling former political ties to investing in new partnerships to deftly employing soft power.
By Alexandra Snodgrass
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 Maria Luisa Olavarria
I miss Venezuela. I’ve thought about it every single day since I left in 2013. I wish I could wake up to have a cafecito with my mamá, have an arepa for breakfast and be able to share my dreams and goals with my childhood friends. I daydream about the warmth of its people and its weather. I reminisce over time spent in my family’s home, when we all lived nearby, and my siblings and friends were just a call away. I miss the sense of community and the feeling that I belonged. Painful as it is to accept, I miss a country that no longer exists.
By Blake Burdge
The relationship between the United States and Argentina has remained strong under President Trump. It is likely that Trump views the country favorably due to the close relationship that he shared with Argentine President Mauricio Macri when the two were businessmen. Trump and Macri met at the White House in late April to discuss bilateral cybersecurity and to show joint support for the restoration of democracy and respect for human rights in Venezuela.
The United States and Argentina have strengthened economic ties since Trump entered office, as both countries have lifted bans on the other for certain goods. For the first time since 1992, U.S. farmers will be able to export pork to Argentina, with a potential market of up to USD $10 million. Additionally, President Trump followed through on the Obama administration’s proposal to relinquish a ban on lemons from Argentina, which is the fourth-largest producer of the fruit in the world.
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.
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.