AQ's Christopher Sabatini discusses Venezuela on CNN International


February 19, 2014


View an interview with AQ’s Christopher Sabatini below

Christopher Sabatini, senior director of policy at Americas Society/Council of the Americas and founder and editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly, was interviewed on CNN International this Tuesday about the growing political unrest in Venezuela.

The interview, moderated by CNN reporter Maggie Lake, focused on the deteriorating economic problems in Venezuela that have led to popular protests throughout the country.

“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.

After years of decline, the economic situation is finally coming to a head under President Nicolás Maduro’s administration. While pro-government groups have taken to the streets to support the president, there is a very apparent gap in support from that of the preceding government. “The problem with [the government] economically is that their mismanagement is coming home finally to roost,” Sabatini said. Also, despite fifteen years of patronage and gasoline subsidies, “Maduro is not Chávez,” he added. “To put it politely, he’s kind of charisma-challenged; he lacks Chávez’ overwhelming personality and exuberance.”

Throughout the protests, Venezuela’s socialist government has kept a tight grip on media sources. Sabatini described the government crackdown on news sources and freedom of expression: “The political space has become completely contracted. Because of controls on the import of newsprint, for example, twelve newspapers have been closed down.”  Sabatini went on to add that with few exceptions, the media shutdown has resulted in a lack of coverage of the ongoing demonstrations.

Watch the full interview here.

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