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Venezuela In Depth



Photo: AndresAzp (Flickr)

Follow AQ Online for continuous Venezuela coverage.

A wave of peaceful student protests that began on February 12 for National Youth Day turned violent when three protestors were shot dead. Demonstrators continue to flood the streets in Venezuela to protest against high inflation, rising crime rates and shortages of staple supplies.

Plus, visit AS/COA Online for more updates on the crisis in Venezuela.

On This Page:

  • April 14: Dialogar en Venezuela (By Paula Ramón, AQ Blog)
  • April 14: AQ Slideshow: Venezuela's Colectivos (By Ramón Campos Iriarte, AQ Web Exclusive)
  • April 11: Maduro Faces Conundrum as UNASUR Starts Peace Talks (By Thomas O'Donnell, AQ Blog)
  • April 9: Venezuelan Government, Opposition Agree to Talks (AQ Daily Focus)
  • April 1: Uruguayan Lawmakers Defend Ousted Venezuelan Congresswoman (AQ Daily Focus)
  • March 25: Venezuela Devalues Bolivar amid Crisis (AQ Daily Focus)
  • March 24: Can Venezuela's Economic Strategy Keep Protests From Spreading? (By Thomas O'Donnell, AQ Web Exclusive)
  • March 14: Febrero: El mes cuando la guerra llegó a Venezuela (By Albinson Linares, AQ Blog)
  • March 12: Venezuela y la parálisis de UNASUR (By Víctor M. Mijares and Luis L. Schenoni, AQ Blog)
  • March 12: Venezuela mesiánica (By Paula Ramón, AQ Blog)
  • March 7: Venezuela’s Escalating Protests, Violence and Political Instability: The Legacy of Chávez (By Mariana Rodríguez and Jonathan Hiskey, AQ Web Exclusive)
  • March 5:  Diplomacy Isn’t a Tug of War (By Christopher Sabatini, AQ Blog)
  • March 4: My Panic Room in Caracas (By Rafael Osío Cabrices, AQ Connecting the Americas)
  • February 27: Maduro Announces Peace Conference to Quell Violence (AQ Daily Focus)
  • February 25: Venezuelan Protests Continue as Criticism Grows Against Maduro (By Juan Víctor Fajardo, AQ Blog)
  • February 21: Venezuela Deploys Military Against Protestors (AQ Daily Focus)
  • February 21: Venezuelan Opposition Condemns Violence as Death Toll Reaches Eight (AQ Daily Focus)
  • February 20: Venezuela Entrampada (By Paula Ramón, AQ Blog)
  • February 19: AQ's Christopher Sabatini Discusses Venezuela on CNN International (What's New from AQ)
  • February 18: Venezuelan Government Crisis Unfolds in the Streets (By Juan Víctor Fajardo, AQ Blog)
  • February 18: Venezuelan Protests Intensify (AQ Daily Focus)
  • February 13: Violence Erupts During Protests in Venezuela (AQ Daily Focus)
  • Summer (2013): Blogging the Revolution: Caracas Chronicles and the Hugo Chávez Era by Francisco Toro and Juan Cristobel Nagel (By José de Córdoba, AQ Article)

 


Dialogar en Venezuela

April 14, 2014 - AQ Blog

By Paula Ramón

A finales de 2002, después de meses de conflicto y de un golpe de estado que dejó al entonces presidente Hugo Chávez fuera del poder por dos días, Venezuela decidió apostar por el diálogo. César Gaviria, quien estaba al frente de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA), abrió el debate entre gobierno y oposición, representado por la Coordinadora Democrática, una coalición de partidos, ONGs y agremiaciones adversas al "proceso revolucionario."

En medio de las negociaciones se inició un paro nacional que buscaba presionar la renuncia del Presidente. Dos meses de inactividad comercial asestaron duros golpes a la economía nacional, especialmente a la industria petrolera, pero Chávez salió victorioso. Con la derrota de la oposición, el diálogo adquirió mayor fuerza y condujo a un acuerdo que se cristalizó con un referendo revocatorio presidencial que dejo a Chávez en el poder. Una vez más, Chávez ganó la batalla.

Read more...


AQ Slideshow: Venezuela's Colectivos

April 14, 2014 - AQ Web Exclusive

By Ramón Campos Iriarte

Caracas has been the scenario of violent clashes between Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s government forces and opposition groups, led mainly by opposition politician Leopoldo López, since February 12.

So far, the conflict has left at least 41 people dead, and armed chavista groups—nicknamed “colectivos”—have been blamed for many of the casualties.

However, members of the colectivos have something else to say: they are the government’s last line of defense and they haven’t used any violence against protestors.

Read more...


Maduro Faces Conundrum as UNASUR Starts Peace Talks

April 11, 2014 - AQ Blog

By Thomas O'Donnell

A delegation of foreign ministers from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) returned to Caracas on April 7 and 8, securing an agreement to hold peace talks to calm political polarization and protests in Venezuela.  The talks are being mediated by the foreign ministers of Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador, plus a Vatican representative. 

The UNASUR delegation first visited in late March, recommending that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and leaders of the opposition’s Mesa de Unidad Democrática (MUD) enter into a dialogue.  The U.S. State Department had expressed support , as had Organization of American States (OAS) General Secretary José Miguel Insulza.

Read more...


Venezuelan Government, Opposition Agree to Talks

April 9, 2014 - AQ Blog

By AQ Online

After weeks of unrest, the Venezuelan government and the Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (Democratic Unity Roundtable—MUD) opposition coalition agreed on Tuesday to “formal talks”  to end the anti-government protests.

The two sides have tentatively planned to meet on Thursday for a discussion mediated by the Vatican and the Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (Union of South American Nations—UNASUR). The foreign ministers of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador are also expected to attend Thursday’s meeting.

Read more...


Uruguayan Lawmakers Defend Ousted Venezuelan Congresswoman

April 1, 2014 - AQ Blog

By AQ Online

Uruguayan opposition lawmakers denounced what they called threats to ousted Venezuelan Congresswoman María Corina Machado’s “liberty and security” on Monday. Machado, an opposition lawmaker representing Miranda, Venezuela was strippedof her seat in the National Assembly as well as her parliamentary immunity for testifying before the Organization of American States (OAS) about the unrest in Venezuela as a guest of Panama.

In a letter released yesterday, Uruguayan senators and congressmen called Machado’s expulsion a violation of “fundamental legal guarantees” accusing Venezuelan authorities of ignoring “basic democratic and republican rules.”

Read more...


Venezuela Devalues Bolivar amid Crisis

March 25, 2014 - AQ Blog

By AQ Online

The Venezuelan bolivar was devalued on Monday to be sold for 55 bolivars per US dollar on Monday after currency controls were loosened, representing a weakening of 89 percent for the Venezuelan currency. The move was billed as a tactic to alleviate the shortage of staple goods including medicine and toilet paper, countering the black market rate of 58.6 bolivars to the dollar.

For the first time in over 10 years, Venezuela decreased regulations by creating a new currency exchange called Sicad II. Despite the positive step, only 20 percent of the oil-rich nation’s dollars will be offered at the new exchange rate, with the remaining currency traded at the official exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars per dollar.

Read more...


Can Venezuela's Economic Strategy Keep Protests From Spreading?

March 14, 2014 - AQ Web Exclusive

By Thomas O'Donnell

As protests continue in Venezuela, the government of President Nicolás Maduro has sought to delegitimize protests and isolate them in middle-class areas in the hope that they will burn out. 

The president's rhetoric aims at inciting poorer citizens against student and middle-class protesters, who he blames for food shortages, and soaring inflation and by “sabotaging the economy.”  He calls protesters "fascists" who are organizing a “soft coup.”

This is a risky strategy.  Though reports of relative calm in barrios remain accurate, acts of protests do take place there—such as youth setting up barricades on a hit-and-run basis, and residents banging pots to protest shortages (cacerolazos).  Significant numbers of poor youth also unite in Caracas’ barrios every night to join middle-class youth confronting the National Guard.

Read more...


Febrero: El mes cuando la guerra llegó a Venezuela

March 14, 2014 - AQ Blog

By Albinson Linares

Este mes, parte de Caracas y varias ciudades del país se volvieron campos de batalla entre estudiantes, ciudadanos de todas las edades y los cuerpos de seguridad del Estado. Organizaciones no gubernamentales, como el Foro Penal Venezolano, aseguraron el miércoles 12 de marzo que habían registrado 1.313 detenciones relacionadas con las protestas estudiantiles durante el mes de febrero .

En Caracas y Valencia, hay denuncias y documentación de maltratos de más de 34 jóvenes, y el Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Prensa denunció que más de 89 periodistas (algunos corresponsales extranjeros), han sido agredidos: 22 fueron detenidos temporalmente cuando cubrían las manifestaciones y a más de 20 les robaron sus equipos.

Read more...


Venezuela y la parálisis de UNASUR

March 12, 2014 - AQ Blog

By Víctor M. Mijares and Luis L. Schenoni

La estabilidad interna de Venezuela es un tema relevante a la agenda política latinoamericana. La revolución bolivariana, cargada del ímpetu de su discurso anti-imperialista, puso a la disposición de la región recursos y voluntad para la materialización de un proyecto conjunto.

Sin embargo, hace más de un mes que la violencia política y la represión aumentan en Venezuela. El fracaso económico del país petrolero se manifiesta en una inflación galopante y desabastecimiento, alta criminalidad y un próspero mercado de armas ilegales. La desesperación de la clase media comienza a permear a los más pobres, y la ausencia de un líder carismático ya no puede ser compensada con incrementos del gasto público.

Read more...


Venezuela mesiánica

March 12, 2014 - AQ Blog

By Paula Ramón

Los venezolanos siempre se han vanagloriado de su “sentido del humor” para superar adversidades. No es una sobrevaloración: vivir en una crisis perenne, a pesar de la riqueza nacional, requiere mucho más que un simple buen talante.

Es comprensible, entonces, que el 5 de marzo, en el primer aniversario de la muerte del presidente Hugo Chávez, una de las noticias más tuiteada fuese: “Se cumple un año del día que dijiste ‘cualquier cosa es mejor que Chávez,’” parodia del site de notas falsas “El Chiguire Bipolar.” Fiel a su estilo, “El Chiguire”–como es conocido en Venezuela–puso el dedo en la llaga con la sátira, claramente crítica a la oposición radical.

Read more...


Venezuela’s Escalating Protests, Violence and Political Instability: The Legacy of Chávez

March 7, 2014 - AQ Web Exclusive

By Mariana Rodríguez and Jonathan Hiskey,

Over the last few weeks, Venezuela has found itself engulfed in protests against current President Nicolás Maduro's administration. While the student movement has spearheaded this uprising, many Venezuelans have taken to the streets to voice their grievances against the country's high levels of violent crime, inflation, and the increasing scarcity of basic goods.

As protests and violence continue, Hugo Chávez’s hand-picked successor faces potentially destabilizing levels of political violence in an era in which protests in other parts of the world (Ukraine, the Middle East) have shown the power of the street. Almost a year after Hugo Chávez’s death and Maduro’s election, were such high levels of political unrest foreseeable?

Read more...


Diplomacy Isn’t a Tug of War

March 5, 2014 - AQ Blog

By Christopher Sabatini

Diplomacy during the Cold War, wrote Sam Tanenhaus in last Sunday’s New York Times, may have been more of a high wire act than a chess match—but diplomacy, neither then nor now, is a tug of war. 

Unfortunately, that’s the way it’s being conducted in the U.S.’ delinked Cuba-Venezuela policies—hostages to age-old vendettas, anachronistic policies and the persistent failure to develop policy in the hemisphere through a broader geostrategic lens.

Read more...


My Panic Room in Caracas

March 4, 2014 - AQ Connecting the Americas

By Rafael Osío Cabrices

What’s the best way to protect a seven-month-old girl from the effects of tear gas? Is it dangerous for her to breathe the smoke from a pile of burning garbage in front of this building? Can a 9-millimeter bullet pass through the walls of our apartment? Will I find food for my family next week in our densely populated middle-class neighborhood, or should we stock an emergency reserve of groceries?

These are some of the questions that my wife and I have been asking ourselves since February 12, when members of Venezuela's political opposition marched on downtown Caracas and were attacked by supporters of the recently deceased president, Hugo Chávez.

Read more...


Maduro Announces Peace Conference to Quell Violence

February 25, 2014 - AQ Blog

By AQ Online

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro invited opposition leaders to the presidential palace on Wednesday for a peace conference in an effort to quell the worst unrest in in the country in a decade that has claimed 13 lives thus far.

Some have questioned the sincerity of Maduro’s peace conference efforts. Henrique Capriles, the presidential opposition candidate who lost by a narrow margin to Maduro in 2013, called the meeting an empty appeal and nothing more than a photo opportunity.

Read more...


Venezuelan Protests Continue as Criticism Grows Against Maduro

February 25, 2014 - AQ Blog

By Juan Víctor Fajardo

Widespread protests continue for a thirteenth consecutive day in Venezuela as the country’s president, Nicolás Maduro, faces increasing criticism—some of it from within his own ranks—for how he has handled the unfolding crisis.

The president’s recent crackdown on the remaining free media in Venezuela and an upsurge of State violence last week have led at least one member of Maduro’s Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (United Socialist Party of Venezuela—PSUV) to criticize the government’s crackdown on protesters.

Read more...


Venezuela Deploys Military Against Protestors

February 21, 2014 - AQ Blog

By AQ Online

Venezuela will deploy military units to San Cristobal, Táchira, where demonstrators continue to protest the arrest of opposition leader Lepoldo López, government officials announced today. Interior Minister Miguel Rodriguez Torres said that the decision is a measure to restore public order.

In addition to the deployment of the military troops on the ground military jets have been flying over that state of Táchira and internet access has been cut following 16 days of protests. Rodriguez has denied knowledge of the cause of the internet blackout.

Read more...


Venezuelan Opposition Condemns Violence as Death Toll Reaches Eight

February 21, 2014 - AQ Blog

By AQ Online

Venezuelan opposition leaders have condemned President Nicolas Maduro’s government for the violent backlash to what started as peaceful student protests last week. The National Police, National Guard and government-backed colectivos (armed militias) have filled the streets firing freely at protesters. At least eight people have died since the protests turned violent last week and many have been injured.

Although the Venezuelan media has not fully covered the violence, social media sites have been flooded with photos and videos of the clashes documented by protesters themselves.

Read more...


Venezuela Entrampada

February 20, 2014 - AQ Blog

By Paula Ramón

El reciente minuto a minuto de la historia venezolana parece una novela que se quedó acéfala, un guión cuyo escritor abandonó la historia a mitad de la trama y fue reemplazado con improvisación. El 12 de febrero, en el marco de festejos por el día de la juventud, centenas de estudiantes salieron a las calles a protestar contra un Gobierno con el cual no se sienten identificados. Nadie lo vio venir, pero en cuestión de horas, la protesta se volvió un polvorín que terminó con tres personas muertas—dos  estudiantes y un simpatizante del oficialismo. La aclaratoria es necesaria para hablar de un país en el cual hasta la vida humana se cuenta a través de la polarización.

Read more...


AQ's Christopher Sabatini Discusses Venezuela on CNN International

February 19, 2014 - What's New from AQ

“The economy has been in a slow motion disaster over the last five, ten years” Sabatini said, describing soaring inflation rates and lagging economic growth. Among the other major economic issues Sabatini noted were oil dependency, the need for devaluation, cuts in the production of major national resources such as oil, and scarcity of commodities. “According to the Central Bank’s own numbers (…) two out of the ten goods you need to survive—everything from toilet paper to sugar to milk—are not on the shelves,” Sabatini said.

Read more...


Venezuelan Government Crisis Unfolds in the Streets

February 18, 2014 - AQ Blog

By Juan Víctor Fajardo

The Bolivarian Revolution of Venezuela, currently led by Hugo Chávez’s handpicked successor, Nicolás Maduro, is facing the most significant wave of social discontent with its policies in more than a decade.

Over the past six days, daily spontaneous protests across the country have diluted the government’s ability to maintain social order and address the concerns of millions of Venezuelans who oppose its socialist project.

Read more...


Venezuelan Protests Intensify

February 18, 2014 - AQ Blog

By AQ Online

Student protests in Venezuela intensified as they entered their fifth straight day on Monday. Thousands of anti-government protestors flooded the streets of Caracas denouncing the nation's deteriorating economy, inflation, shortages of staple supplies, and security issues. Pro-government protestors are expected to counter-protest today.

Three protestors—two anti-government and one pro-government—were killed and hundreds were injured last Wednesday in the largely student-led protests that took place in cities across Venezuela.

Read more...


Violence Erupts During Protests in Venezuela

February 13, 2014 - AQ Blog

By AQ Online

Student-organized protests against the Nicolás Maduro Administration turned violent yesterday when pro-government groups began shooting into the crowd in Caracas.

Several thousand students and protesters took to the street with more protests cropping upthroughout the country as the day went on. Anti-government groups denounced the administration for current economic and widespread crime, demanding the constitutional removal of President Maduro. At the same time, pro-government groups set to the streets to show their support of the Venezuelan socialist government.

Read more...


Blogging the Revolution: Caracas Chronicles and the Hugo Chávez Era by Francisco Toro and Juan Cristobal Nagel

Summer 2013 issue - AQ Article

By José de Córdoba

Venezuela has been on a wild ride since Hugo Chávez was elected president in 1998. Now that the Comandante—as he liked to be called—has left us, things could get loonier a lot faster. That’s one reason why Caracas Chronicles, an English-language blog that has provided a running narration since 2002 of the Chávez era, will continue to be an indispensable tool of analysis and information for addicts of the Chávez story—a story that so far has managed to outlive the flamboyant president.

With the death of Chávez and his spectacular funeral still fresh in the collective memory, the publication of Blogging the Revolution: Caracas Chronicles and the Hugo Chávez Era, a compilation of some of the blog’s best postings, is well timed. It provides an opportunity to look back on the past and to meditate on the future of Venezuela as it teeters between comedy and tragedy. This is an essential read for anybody interested in Venezuela.

Read more...


View past coverage of Venezuela here.