Politics, Business & Culture in the Americas

Safe Streets, Safe Cities

Discussions of sustainable cities tend to focus on environmental goals such as developing eco-friendly architecture, recycling, and improving the resiliency of urban infrastructure systems. But public or citizen security is an equally important aspect of building a sustainable city. Often, it is the issue that tops the list of citizens’ concerns—and with good reason. Violent … Read more

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The PDVSA Post-Chávez: Will Partnerships with the Private Sector and Chinese Experts Boost Oil Production?

Throughout 2012, and especially after President Hugo Chávez’ death in early March 2013, Venezuela’s national oil firm, Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), has taken measures beyond anything done in the past decade to raise its lagging production. While the likely impact merits cautious analysis, the drivers of the Bolivarian Republic’s scramble for increased oil revenues … Read more


AQ Slideshow: A Venezuelan Skyscraper’s Unlikely Tenants

The Caracas highrise known as “Torre de David” was supposed to be the biggest financial center in Venezuela. Officially named Torre Cofinanzas—but better known as “David’s Tower,” in honor of its developer, David Brillemburg—60 percent of the building was left unfinished after the company that owned the project went bankrupt in 1994. For the next … Read more

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The Protests in Venezuela Should Not be Overlooked

Over the last week, Brazil’s protests have captured headlines worldwide.  But Brazil is not the only South American country engulfed in protests.  Since early June, Venezuela has been witnessing a series of protests involving the university sector.  As with the public demonstrations in Brazil, the protests in Venezuela are a sign of deep political problems.  … Read more


AQ Slideshow: Venezuelans Cast Their Vote

In the early morning of April 14, Venezuelan voters went to the polls to decide whether Nicolás Maduro or Henrique Capriles Radonski would become the country’s next president. Voter participation started slowly in several neighborhoods in eastern Caracas, but eventually, more than 78 percent of Venezuela’s registered voters cast their ballots. With 99 percent of … Read more


Electoral Irregularities under Chavismo: A Tally

This is a draft document and part of an ongoing project on electoral irregularities in Venezuela.  Please help improve this document by reporting any errors and omissions to jcorrales@amherst.edu.  Just days ahead of the first post-Chávez election since 1998, Venezuela’s opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles, has made electoral irregularities a major issue in his campaign.  Claiming … Read more


Venezuela: Timidity and Sub-Standard Election Observation

Last week, the Human Rights Foundation called on the Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, to urge the National Electoral Council (CNE) of Venezuela to invite an OAS electoral observation mission to monitor the upcoming April 14 presidential elections.  An OAS mission—along the lines of what it used to field in … Read more

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Did Chávez Help the Poor?

In a recent opinion piece, Venezuelan-American author Eva Golinger proclaimed the late Hugo Chávez was “a maker of dreams.” Chávez, she says, dreamt of eradicating poverty, and made those dreams come true. Much of what has been written—including by people critical of his legacy—repeats the same conclusion: Chávez improved the lives of the poor. Sadly, … Read more


AQ Slideshow: Venezuelans Wait Hours to View Chávez

Click here to view an expanded version of the slideshow. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’ body is being moved today from the Military Academy of Caracas to the city’s military museum, marking the end of a nine-day open casket service that has drawn thousands of the late president’s followers to the capital city. The lines of … Read more


AQ Slideshow: Venezuelans Pay Their Respects to Hugo Chávez

Click here to view an expanded version of the slideshow. Throughout the day on Wednesday, enormous crowds took to the streets of Caracas to join the president’s procession from the hospital in which he died to the military academy. The impressive procession traversed eight kilometers of the capital city and lasted seven hours, flooding major … Read more


The Economic Reality Facing Nicolás Maduro

Hugo Chávez engineered an electoral budget boom on steroids to win the 2012 presidential election. His economic strategy resulted in a significant appreciation of the real exchange rate, an increase in imports to a historical peak, and a considerable increase in public wages. Facing a strong contender in Henrique Capriles—and the limits to his campaign … Read more


Venezuela’s Regional Elections and the Implications for the Opposition

While President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela remains in Cuba recovering from his fourth cancer surgery on the island, millions of his supporters delivered a solid political victory for his party in the country’s regional elections on December 16. Of the 23 governorships that exist in Venezuela, the Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela (United Socialist Party—PSUV) … Read more


Maduro is No Chávez, For Now

After much speculation President Hugo Chávez announced on December 8 that his cancer was back (for the second time in a year), and that he now had a person in mind to succeed him—Nicolás Maduro, the minister of foreign affairs who was elevated to vice president in October 2012.   Designating Maduro as the official successor … Read more


The Challenges Ahead for Hugo Chávez

After Hugo Chávez convincingly won re-election on Sunday, the margin of victory—over 1.5 million votes, totaling over 10 percentage points—has stunned members of Venezuela’s opposition, leaving them searching for answers. Some pointed to the Consejo Nacional Electoral (National Electoral Council—CNE), which is controlled by chavistas and turned a blind eye to government abuses. Others pointed … Read more

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