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Maduroism and the Destruction of Venezuela

Venezuela’s “Bolivarian Revolution” has been an even more pronounced failure under Maduro than under Chavez.

Credit: Akos Nagy Shutterstock.com

Takeaways


  • “Maduroism,” the follow-up to Chavism, is now barreling ahead in the full-scale destruction of Venezuela.
  • Perhaps the regime will self-destruct due to disastrous economic management. Not long ago Venezuela was rich.
  • The queues that Venezuelans line up in to buy what there is by way of food are now part of daily life.

“Maduroism,” the follow-up to Chavism, is now barreling ahead in the full-scale destruction of Venezuela. The very political forces that attained power through the ballot box (preceded by Hugo Chávez’s attempted coup) initially claimed to ensure a fairer distribution of the nation’s wealth and to do away with the corruption of the previous regime.

The regime did redistribute, but it has been incapable of generating wealth. It swapped one corrupt situation for another. And it rode roughshod over the rule of law and democracy, the most recent step being the Constituent Assembly elections and the decisions that this body is starting to take.

The damning statements made by Luisa Ortega Díaz, Venezuela’s former Prosecutor General, about the regime’s ways and means are revealing.

Is there a negotiable way out? There is a balance of forces and interests created by the regime that seems to hinder it. Institutional violence and deaths cast a long shadow.

After what has happened with establishing the Constituent Assembly, it is hard to believe that the end of the regime will come through the ballot box, although the so-called “electoral endgame” would be the desirable one.

Power resides not in the street, but in a complicit army and armed paramilitaries, as well as groups of gangsters. The regime’s internal contradictions could bring it down, but it would be unwise to bank too heavily on this. After all, the military did nothing to prevent the fraud of the Constituent Assembly, since it will give the military more power.

Economic mismanagement

Perhaps the regime will self-destruct owing to disastrous economic management. It is not so long ago that Venezuela was rich. What used to be the wealthiest country in South America has been brought to its knees by a group that, as one Venezuelan observer puts it, “lacks a work record but has a criminal record.”

That cabal has squandered the country’s wealth and, in the process, pocketed a considerable chunk of the state coffers. The regime has been incapable of investing in the future.

Oil exports – accounting for 90% of the country’s total – have suffered through mismanage-ment and the fall in the crude oil price. The IMF is forecasting that hyperinflation will reach 720% this year.

The queues that Venezuelans line up in to buy what there is by way of food, not to mention sanitary and other basic products, are now part of daily life. There is a shortage of essential medicines not only in pharmacies, but even in hospitals.

People are going hungry. And it does not seem likely that anything will improve in this regard over the short to medium term, despite Nicolas Maduro’s proud boasts.

Many people want to leave the country, one destination being Spain. There, applications from would-be immigrants have shot up.

The “Bolivarian Revolution” has been a failure, even more pronounced under Maduro than under Chavez: His predecessor had already engineered a calamity but, as Marx might have said, it has now become a tragic farce.

The international context

In terms of the international context, it is essential for the pressure and the dialogue to work. Regardless of the pressure exerted by the EU, the solution if civil war is to be avoided, as has been pointed out, will be “Latin American for a Latin American problem.”

But there is division on this point. Mediation efforts, like that of former Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, have their uses, but they need more international support.

It is a moot point whether sanctions can leave their mark on the regime, despite the country’s economic weakness. They need time to take effect, particularly if they are going to hit those in power rather than the general public.

Perhaps a glimmer of a solution lies outside Venezuela, not so much in the efforts of its neighbors, near and not so near, but rather a country and a regime wielding a good deal of influence in Venezuela, namely Cuba (notwithstanding the fact that Caracas supplies cheap oil to Havana).

All this is complicated by the attempts of Russia — no longer Communist, but still at loggerheads with the United States in geopolitical terms, to strengthen its hand in Latin America. It particularly aims at Venezuela, where loans from the Russian oil firm Rosneft to Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) have staved off the latter’s collapse.


Editor’s Note: Adapted from Andres Ortega’s Global Spectator column, which he writes for the Elcano Royal Institute.

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About Andrés Ortega

Andrés Ortega is senior research fellow at the Elcano Royal Institute, a major Spanish foreign affairs think tank.

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