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In Venezuela, Hope Sinks

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September 15, 2014

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Last week, reports surfaced that the bloc of Latin American and Caribbean nations agreed to support Venezuela’s bid for a rotating seat on the UN Security Council. Christopher Sabatini explains why the country is far from an appropriate choice, and questions the region’s support of Venezuela in the face of its failure to meet the basic conditions for membership.

In Venezuela, Hope Sinks

By Christopher Sabatini

For Venezuela, hope always springs eternal. And it is always disappointed. This happened most recently with President Nicolás Maduro’s Sept. cabinet reshuffle, which removed one of the few remaining economic moderates, Rafael Ramírez, and replaced him with more ideological party loyalists with scant practical economic experience.

Before the September changes, the whispered hope was that under the sway of the pragmatic Ramírez – who had consolidated his power with three key policy-making positions: head of the state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (Petroleum of Venezuela), oil minister and vice president of the economy – the government would rein in public sector spending, devalue its wildly overvalued currency (the bolivar) and cut gasoline subsidies.

With the cabinet changes, however, a much-needed, economic course correction looks increasingly unlikely.

In the all-important post of energy minister, Maduro – the late President Hugo Chávez’s protégé – appointed the former president’s cousin Asdrúbal Chávez. Moreover, Maduro expanded the power of his vice president of finance (or finance minister) Rodolfo Torres by also appointing him vice president of the economy, replacing Ramírez.

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