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The politics of Venezuela

The politics of Venezuela . Anastasios Valvis Ph.D. Candidate University of Peloponnese ELIAMEP Research Fellow. The Political System in Venezuela Before Chavez. Until the 80s Venezuela was considered as an example of democracy and stability in LA. A two party system (AD & COPEI)

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The politics of Venezuela

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  1. The politics of Venezuela AnastasiosValvis Ph.D. Candidate University of Peloponnese ELIAMEP Research Fellow

  2. The Political System in Venezuela Before Chavez • Until the 80s Venezuela was considered as an example of democracy and stability in LA. • A two party system (AD & COPEI) • But this was only in the surface. • The collapse of the national currency following the collapse of oil prices at the late 80s revealed the reality.

  3. The Political System in Venezuela Before Chavez • Economic problems led to extreme urbanization with no result. • The elites paid more attention to their classes and supporters resulting to massive abstain of the lower class from the elections. • Carlos Perez became president in 1989 and the people hoped for a second successful term.

  4. The Political System in Venezuela Before Chavez • Under Perez presidency vast efforts were made for economic improvement. • Indeed economic indicators such as GDP and inflation have been improved. • But, the real income of the majority further declined and the unemployment raised. • The outcome was the “Caracazo”

  5. Chavez at the Forefront: A short historical Portrait • Born in 1954 • A former military who has reached the rank of lieutenant colonel. • He studied political science but he did not finish his studies in Caracas. • Participant of the 1992 failed coup d'état and imprisoned for two years. • Entered into the official political scene as a third party candidate and won the 1998 elections with 56% under a unique civic-military alliance. • Survived a coup in April 2002. • Won the referendum of 2004 organized by his political opponents. • Re-elected president in 2006 with 63%. • Attempted to alter the constitution to become re-electable for life but failed in 2007. • Won the 2009 referendum abolishing term limits for the President • Re-elected in 2012.

  6. The Chavez phenomenon: an oversized personality – populist, dictator or true democrat? Criticism or Praise A harbinger of hope, aninspiration for Latin America’s poor, and a memberof the “axis ofhope.” Charismatic, committed, dynamic,intemperate, impulsive. • A “Tropical Mussolini” • A threat to LA Democracy • A brand ofnarcissistic Leninism • Verbally and ideologically inclined to politicalviolence.

  7. Critique • Brought a new constitution giving to the President extreme powers. • Replaced the Supreme Court and liquidated the judicial council. • Controlled the Media (Human Right Watch) • Anti-american rhetoric but the most important exporter of oil to the USA. 1999-2011 nearly $350 billion. • Total debt has more than doubled since 2008. • Annual fiscal deficit at nearly 20 percent of GDP (Barklays, 07/2012).

  8. Critique • Immense security deficit: Venezuela has the highest homicide rate in South America, and represents the most dramatic deterioration of urban violence in South America. According to the UN, Venezuela’s murder rate is exceeded only by that of Honduras and El Salvador, two countries ravaged by gang violence and organized crime. Kidnappings for ransom have soared, and Caracas is now considered one of the most dangerous cities in the world. In 2011, 93 percent of homicides in the Caracas metropolitan area were of young men and teenagers between the ages of 15 and 24 (Wilson Center).

  9. Chavez vs Civil Society and Lobbies • Clash with the Catholic church right after he came into power in 1999. • Clash with the CTV, the biggest labor organization. • Clash with the Media.

  10. The positive aspects • Article 62 of the Constitution: creates a body of political power for the people through which they are provided with an authorization to participate in the creation, execution and control of public enterprise. • Article 71: if an elected government does not perform, it can be abolished by popular referendum which in order to be called requires the signature of only 10% of the eligible voters.

  11. Venezuela the successor of Bolivarianism • Venezuela has dramatically changed under Chavez administration. • Social spending increased by 60.6%, reaching a total of $772 billion. • Venezuela in now the country in the region with the lowest inequality level (GINI indicator, OECD) having reduced inequality by 54%, poverty by 44%. In particular, poverty has been reduced from 70,8% (1996) to 21% (2010). • In education the government is giving more than 6% of GDP. • UNESCO has recognized that illiteracy has been further eliminated. • Venezuela is the 3rd country in the region whose population reads the most. • Venezuela is now tied with Finland as the 5th country with the happiest population in the world.

  12. Economic Performance • The Venezuelan economy has grown 47,4% in ten years, that is 4,3% per annum. • Unemployment rate of 8%, 45,5% government (public) debt as a percentage of GDP. GDP per capita is $ 13,070. (CIA World Factbook). • Venezuela’s stock exchange is by far the best – performing stock market in the world, and Venezuela’s bonds are some of the best performers in emerging markets (Wall Street Journal) • The UN Human Development Index situates Venezuela in place 61 out of 176 countries having increased 7 places in 10 years.

  13. Critique

  14. Chávez isnot content to govern within theconfines of a singlenation. Former Brazilian president HenriqueCardoso observed that Chávez is driven by a deepsense of ideological fervor and missionary zeal. In Chávez’smind, Latin America is a prisonerheld in subjugationby external powers and their internal allies andagents who write the economic rules and dispensepolitical power. Chavez as a leader of anti-West and anti-Americanism

  15. Chavez’s 3D Strategy • The national level: The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela • The Regional Level: LA and Caribbean level: Unity • The Global level

  16. Venezuela in regional blocs • UNASUR • ALBA (Founding member) • MERCOSUR

  17. TheBolivarianAlternativefortheAmericas (ALBA): The “Dawn” for a 21st Century Socialism • Chavez and Castro initiative in 2004. • The concept was the creation of an alternative for profit-driven and allegedly unregulated free trade and a bulwark against the U.S. – led FTAA. • Ideologically ALBA-TCP is centered around the idea of endogenous development replacing the competitive/comparative advantage with the cooperative advantage. • During the 2008 ALBA summit in Caracas Chavez proposed creating a solidarity – based commercial exchange system with a single monetary zone at the centre. The sucre, a joint currency was to be established within two to three years.

  18. Some distinguishing features of ALBA • Guiding principles • Complementarity • Solidarity • Cooperation • respect for sovereignty. • Poverty reduction • Financial cooperation • People-to-people social cooperation

  19. Differences with other regional agreements • It approaches issues of education, health and culture. • It promotes cooperation in various fields such as in communication, transportation and infrastructure. • Departs from the model of Open regionalism or Outward Integration by promoting complementarities in production articulated around regional investment of mixed state enterprises (GNEs)

  20. Thank you for your attention

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