The State of Venezuela: A Dictatorship

Venezuela's Transition from Democracy to Crisis

Venezuela has had a transition from democracy in the year 1958 to the country’s deepening political crisis that occurred in the mid-1990s. Notably, the strong democracy transition and the deepening political crisis of Venezuela have attracted major attention from scholars. The country’s economy of petroleum sector had a large measure of development in the early part of the twentieth century making Venezuela more prosperous and developed than most of the economically distressed Latin American neighbors. Besides, the country had string two resilient political party systems making Venezuela a democratic stability model. Therefore, the country’s internal dynamics had little interest from academics and policy analysts in 1960s and 1970s making no serious studies specifically for armed forces (Parsa and Vijaya 212). The government and academicians assumed that the military will not be involved in the country’s political affairs.

Hugo Chávez's Impact on Venezuela

Therefore, in 1998, the dynamics of the Venezuela state and society dramatically changed when Hugo Chavez was elected as the president. Furthermore, after his election, Hugo oversaw various important changes for both the country and its foreign policies, specifically regarding the United States of America (Pierson 99). The state of Venezuela has a constitution and political system overhauling for the twelve years in the office of the president Hugo Chavez (Pierson 99). In addition, these changes have immensely concentrated powers to the president, mobilizing a poor constituency as well as pursuing alliances with Latin America and the globe to stand up to Washington.

The Current Crisis in Venezuela

Despite the positive changes made by Hugo Chavez to the state of Venezuela, the country has recently fallen into crisis. Therefore, the crisis combines terrible economic mismanagement, private sector collapse and decimation, democratic institutions crippling, individual freedom suppression as well as a widespread violation of the human rights. In addition, there has been severe food shortages and medicine coupled with increased and high inflation (Wheeler 48). Notably, these are daily struggles that Venezuelans are facing with the only exception for the elite government officials who mostly are facing drug trafficking, laundering of revenue and major accusations of corruption. However, the country’s crisis is man-made and the international community cannot find a unified response to help solve the situation. Besides, the supreme court of Venezuela had a decision to revoke the congressional authority dominated by the opposition but the President Nicolas Maduro reversed it overnight due to his subsequent mandate (Wheeler 48). Cases like this have dispelled any remaining reservations for urgency and coherent action. Therefore, the power of the president to deny the parliament the legislative authority is not only unconstitutional but it represents final straw leading to international organizations and countries to declare the state of Venezuela a dictatorship (Cooper 467).

The International Relations of Venezuela

The international relations of Venezuela politics and history offer a great analytical approach to current and past international problems of the country. Notably, it provides the evolution of international politics, economics, and political domestic systems. Despite the country’s initial economic growth and development, the country faces economic downturn due to various crises leading to international community assistance and interventions. The country has made major steps towards diplomacy, foreign relations, international laws and intercultural exchanges. Besides, the various political and social developments have shaped the country for the past decades.

The Collapsing Economy and Oil Dependency

Furthermore, the state of Venezuela is on the brink of completely collapsing the economy. Besides, the majorly unpopular Nicolas Maduro socialist government has announced rationing of electricity and the drastic state work schedule cutbacks partly due to drought as well as world oil prices collapsing. Therefore, this has reduced the country’s revenues dramatically. In addition, the national assembly has declared the health sector as a national disaster as it is controlled by the president’s opposition. These crises have led to the government to make authoritarian steps to control the government opposition. Venezuela has an unstable economy which highly depends on the oil prices. The government of Venezuela is highly vulnerable to the outside or external shocks because of the country’s dependence on the income from oil. Therefore, oil proceedings account for over 95% of the country’s net export gains and 25% of the country’s gross domestic product (Williamson 188).

The Economic Crisis and Its Causes

The country has Petroleum Company that controls the entire nation’s exploration, production and exporting of oil. However, there was major global fall in oil prices from $111 per barrel in the year 20114 to lowest price of $27 each barrel in 2016 (Williamson 188). Therefore, the unstable economy of Venezuela went dramatically into a ‘free fall’. Consequently, the global price fall dropped the country’s gross domestic product greatly and soared inflation to record high of 800 percent. Meanwhile, by late 2017, there was major dropping of revenue by $100 billion as well as the state owed $150 billion to creditors from foreign countries, while the reserves were almost collapsing with a balance of $10 billion (Williamson 188).

The Chavez Government's Role in the Economic Crisis

The Venezuela economic crisis is attributed to the Chavez government fault of extravagant years of surplus oil revenue. The critics also blame the PDVSA of cronyism and gross malpractices. Therefore, to make matters worse over fifty employees linked to national oil companies have been arrested by 2017 and charged with embezzlement and corruption. Besides, the government has been accused of undemocratic consolidation of power as the president hired military general and loyalist to the position of both the oil industry and PDVSA.

Inflation, Food Shortages, and Corruption

In addition, the country’s economic crisis is manifested by mounting inflation as well as food shortages, reduced medical provisions and staples such as soap and toilet paper. Financial experts and international policymakers blame the government for strict price controls for making basic goods affordable for the nation’s poor (Baylis et al. 235). Therefore, these policies made manufacturers to cut down production because of the limits imposed by the government on what to charge for their products. Furthermore, President Chavez introduced currency control policy that contributed to economic problems such as the curbing of capital flight. Moreover, the government chose to sell the United States dollars at changed rates that effectively generated a black market as well as increasing the opportunities for corruption. Therefore, cases of malpractice emerged. Businesses mandated to transact dollars at their preferential rates of exchange for the purchase of commodities such as medicine and food would sell the dollars for a substantial gain to third parties.

The Humanitarian Crisis in Venezuela

Consequently, as the economy continues to collapse, the country’s import dramatically fell making foreign-made goods more expensive. In addition, many consumers are faced long queues waiting for basic commodities for hours or paying inflated prices to black market traffickers or the so-called bachaqueros. Therefore, the most alarming situation is that experts have accused widespread expropriations as the cause of diminishing productivity. Besides, Transparency International ranks Venezuela at 166 out of 176 in the corruption index. The company also indicates that the state controls over 500 companies with most operating at a deficit. International community and witnesses have characterized Venezuela condition as a humanitarian crisis (Baylis et al. 240). Most recently, the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation raised the crisis by estimating that over 85% of basic medicines were not available as well as difficult to obtain. The problems are immense as hospitals lack supplies such as soap, gauze, and antibiotics. There is increased infant and maternal mortality rates and reemerging of diseases such as diphtheria and malaria which were previously eliminated.

The Political Turmoil in Venezuela

Moreover, the international community has noted the spiking poverty in Venezuela. Studies show that over 87% of the citizens have inadequate income to purchase necessary food and malnourished children. Besides, the matter has skyrocketed has the Maduro administration has fervently prevented the degree of help as well as blocking the effort from opposition from seeking international assistance. In addition, there is exacerbating the high rate of violence in Venezuela due to lack of opportunities and poverty. There is the notable deployment of the military to combat crimes in streets; however, human rights organizations and international media have noted increased exploitations as well as extrajudicial killings. Furthermore, the humanitarian crisis has gone beyond borders of the country as Venezuelan asylum seekers doubling in number from 2016 to 2017. Moreover, desperate citizens in thousands have crossed into bordering countries such as Brazil and Colombia despite others been left by vessel in the neighboring Curacao Island.

The Autocratic Rule of the Maduro Government

The political temperature in Venezuela is in turmoil. Therefore, the crisis has made the Maduro government highly autocratic. Despite the opposition legislators taking the majority in the National Assembly under the Democratic Unity Roundtable coalition in 2016 over 16 years of trying, Maduro administration has taken strides to ultimately disband opposition. The electoral authority suspended campaign for recalling the head of state. Besides, the Supreme Court has denied the National Assembly the powers to supervise the country’s shaky economy and barred the release of 80 prisoners of politics such as the opposition leader Lopez. The international outcry due to dissolved National Assembly in March 2017 by the judicial branch has kept the legislature in contempt.

The Path to Dictatorship

The country is led by a dictatorship. The Maduro government revolted to substitute the National Assembly with constituent assembly with the extensive powers to rewrite the nation’s constitution and laws. Despite Maduro winning all 545 seats, the results were greatly disputed by independent observers and the opposition. In October, the party of Maduro’s Socialist won seventeen out of twenty-three gubernatorial votes; however, international observers such as the US condemned the elections as neither fair nor free and were boycotted by opposition leaders due to allegations of mass electoral fraud. Consequently, the government barred the opposition from the 2018 presidential contest participation. The country has set next presidential elections for April but Maduro’s consolidation of authority portends to delegitimize the upcoming outcome. However, the talks arbitrated by the international community between both the Democratic Unity Roundtable and the Maduro administration which primarily targets free and fair elections have not yielded any positive results. Meanwhile, there have been over 130 civilian deaths and 4,800 people arrested by the police due to clashes between demonstrators and police since early April. The political tempers have escalated leading to the government to issue an indefinite protests ban. Besides, the state security militaries have detained attacked and ousted reporters, in accordance with the Committee to Protect Journalists. Consequently, Venezuela is the second country in the Western Hemisphere to be regarded as not free together with Cuba by the Freedom House.

The Cultural Impact on Venezuela's Crisis

Besides the economic and political turmoil of Venezuela, culture has also widely contributed to the economic, social and political life. The country has faced major challenges in its cultural sociology and impacted the policies designed to address the problems. The nation has been in a downward spiral of social, economic and political crisis to high murder rates, triple inflation, repeated street protests and most recently the collapse of the state democratic institutions. The last four years have seen the dramatic deterioration of the country’s democracy with international leaders targeting sanctions on corrupt Venezuela officials or abusers of human rights. However, the legality of these measures is viewed as bias and targeting human right abusers who have poor relations with other countries such as the United States.

The Behaviour of the Political Opposition

Furthermore, the culture of Venezuela’s political opposition has left the international observers head-scratching with their self-defeating behavior. The oppositions have had continuous miscalculation that they have more followers. This has led to less persuasion from the poor and repeated evidence-free allegations of electoral fraud. Therefore, there is increased overestimation of success by strategies of protests from the opposition. Besides, the country has regional inequality that does not only affect the income but the real situations of political and social interactions (Williamson 188). In addition, there is increased squatters, landless settlement, lack of municipal services and titles as well as lack of formal employment. The government should put strategies to address the illiberal ideologies and engage, debunk critique and provide alternatives that are effective. Liberalism should provide its promises just like other ideologies because culture should not be an irrational set of practices and codes operating behind citizens’ back.

Foreign Policies and Relations

Furthermore, in the country’s foreign policies have shown to back strong continuity of the previous government. President Hugo favored a fundamental shift of ‘global south’ in the global political economy as well as the reemergence multipolar world constraining the United States. President Chavez had strong international relations with other countries such as the creation of ‘Bolivarian Alliance of the People of Our America.’

International Backlash and Economic Sanctions

Significantly, the continued crisis in Venezuela led to a suspension from the Mercosur which is the economic and political bloc in South America in 2016. And the country has subsequently withdrawn from the OAS. In addition, the US administration has imposed sanctions on government officials as well as President Maduro. The crisis further went on as the Maduro administration imposed robust sanctions effectively preventing the US financial institutions from making an investment in the PDVSA bonds and New Venezuela (Bolman et al. 111). Therefore, these restrictive measures and Maduro’s refusal to ask for International Monetary Fund have made the government propose restructuring and refinancing all the country’s foreign debt. However, despite all the tensions between Caracas and Washington, the United States of America still remains the country’s major trading partner.

Global Allyship and Support

Furthermore, the government maintains the strategic backing of allies such as Ecuador, Bolivia and some nations in the Caribbean. The Chinese government has kept lending to Venezuela and claims that the people and the government have the ability to pay back their debt. Moreover, the country is seeking significant ties with Russia (Baylis et al. 235). There was major hope that by 2025, Venezuela would be the largest importer of Russian military equipment before the global oil fall. Moscow has become the lender of last resort to Venezuela. The Venezuela constitution maintains checks and balances giving president more power as compared to other countries and regional democracies. There are constraints to popular participation violating succession and making heavy militarily socialist administration leading to destructive violation of human rights, justice, and rule of law (Ellis 67).

Potential Solutions and Reforms

Therefore, recently the economic, political and social crises have entered all sectors of government including the system of education. For instance, the children have been educated and indoctrinated that Hugo was a great leader and manifested evil in western capitalist states. The education system explicitly shows that IMF; for instance, is ill-intentioned and nefarious organization (Friedman 30). Therefore, any restoration success for vibrant Venezuela democracy demands fundamental policy reforms to recreate almost all public institutions. The current Venezuela administration has refused to accept any humanitarian aid increasing the volatility of the economic and political environment. Furthermore, this stand has contributed to massive and rampant food shortages, medicines and basic goods. The increased loss of weight and malnutrition has led to strategies from multilateral institutions and the global community to prepare to aid the country through the development of international financial and humanitarian assistance.

The Role of the International Community

Therefore, to solve the Venezuela crisis concrete steps and foreign strategies should be implemented by the country and the international community. The government of Venezuela should provide the steering way towards a transition. However, the international community and the United States of America have a crucial role to play towards this transition. First, strategy to pressure Maduro administration through the aimed sanctions of top corrupt officials should be implemented. Secondly, financial and economic sanctions should be improvised targeting the regime’s leadership. Thirdly, the United Nations and the OAS should be used as the main avenues of bringing regional diplomatic pressure against the country’s regime. Besides these traditional methods, the international community or countries should actively help through encouraging two concrete policy measures to alleviate people of Venezuela from suffering (Wilde 150).

Humanitarian Aid and Currency Control

The first of the concrete policy measure should require the Maduro administration to allow humanitarian channel. This is because the current government has barred humanitarian crisis denying any humanitarian aid; however, the citizens must access basic food supplies and medicine. The multilateral institutions and the international community should work together to ensure that the administration opens the doors for the country to receive humanitarian assistance. Secondly, the concrete policy should encourage the establishment of a country’s currency board system or adopt the dollarization. However, dollarization cannot magically fix the nation’s problem but stop the economic disaster as well as restoring the purchasing power for the country. Besides, the dollarization will mitigate the death spiral of world’s highest inflation and shrink the economy.

The Importance of Geopolitics

In conclusion, geopolitics will act as a crucial role in the development of the country’s policies. Besides, both China and Russia have given a lot of credit to Venezuela and are interesting in a stable financial system that should allow the administration to pay its bilateral payment requirements (Farah et al. 100). Moreover, the United States is the country’s largest trading partner with over 500 companies from the US investing in Venezuela particularly in the manufacturing and energy sectors wish to see healthy and stable Venezuela’s economy. Venezuela was once the richest South America’s country; however, it took two decades to spend the country’s democracy, economy, and institutions. There is continued increase in inflation making basic commodities unaffordable to the common and poor citizens. The Venezuela situation gives the United States the opportunity to advance its interests in the hemisphere. The international countries such as the US should pursue a strategic approach to pressure Venezuela government as they encourage the administration to open to the humanitarian channel. The government should as well implement measures for monetary policies such as the dollarization.

Investing in Venezuela's Recovery

Moreover, the state department should vehemently back the OAS general secretary and member countries to commit towards the restoration of Venezuela democracy. This presents probably the last chance of the international community to support the Venezuela limited democratic resistance. Therefore, the strategy to restore democracy in Venezuela must be among the most pressing agenda in the positive foreign policy. The policy should be designed to address regional stability and prevent human rights further violations. Most importantly, the United States administration should lead a major regional coalition to halt Venezuela implosion.

Economic Potential and Future Partnerships

Meanwhile, it is an uneconomical country with so much potential in crisis. Venezuela can feed the citizens and pay its debt when politically stable. However, the country has deteriorating infrastructure and major security breakdown contributing to slow economic recovery. Besides, the country has alarming annual inflation which has deteriorated the domestic production capacity, tightening currency restrictions, increased fiscal spending, and currency devaluations. The country has had long periods of ineffective administration capacity leading to political instability and underinvestment. The government should majorly invest in infrastructures like the electricity sector where there has been a failed investment in extra capacity and improved distribution networks. The government strategy to nationalize industries raises sovereign concern as well as making difficult in payments of multilateral partners make foreign policies for Venezuela incomprehensible. Therefore, the country should

Works Cited

Baylis, John, Steve Smith, and Patricia Owens, eds. The globalization of world politics: an introduction to international relations. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Bolman, Lee G., and Terrence E. Deal. Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. John Wiley " Sons, 2017.

Cooper, Amy. "The doctor's political body: Doctor–patient interactions and sociopolitical belonging in Venezuelan state clinics." American Ethnologist 42.3 (2015): 459-474.

Ellis, R. Evan. "The Approaching Implosion of Venezuela and Strategic Implications for the United States." Strategic Studies Institute (Carlisle Barracks, PA: US Army War College) 7 (2015).

Farah, Douglas, and Liana Eustacia Reyes. "Russia in Latin America: A Strategic Analysis." Prism: a Journal of the Center for Complex Operations 5.4 (2015): 100.

Friedman, Thomas L. "The first law of petropolitics." Foreign policy 154.3 (2006): 28-36.

Parsa, H. G., and Vijaya Vi Narapareddy, eds. Sustainability, Social Responsibility, and Innovations in the Hospitality Industry. CRC Press, 2015.

Pierson, Paul. Politics in time: History, institutions, and social analysis. Princeton University Press, 2011.

Wheeler, Abigail Dixon. "Resource Curse and the Legacy of Hugo Chávez: The Modern History of Venezuela." (2017).

Wilde, Matt. "Contested spaces: The communal councils and participatory democracy in Chávez’s Venezuela." Latin American Perspectives 44.1 (2017): 140-158.

Williamson, Samuel Thomas. Security, Democracy, and Development: Contrasting Policies and Outcomes in Colombia And Venezuela, 1998-2016. Dartmouth College, 2017.

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