Struggle between dictatorship and democracy
During the period of the dictatorship of General JV Gómez (1908–35, with interruptions), oil production developed into Venezuela’s economic base, supported by foreign capital investments. With the help of the state’s share in oil sales, Gómez reduced the national debt and stabilized the currency. Venezuela has benefited from the exploitation of its large oil reserves since the 1920s and has become one of the most modern Latin American states on this basis. In 1948 a military junta took over the government and ended the social reforms initiated in 1945 by President R. Betancourt of the Acción Democrática (AD). 1952 came the dictator Colonel Marcos Pérez Jiménez (* 1914, † 2001) to power. After his fall in 1958, Betancourt was again head of state. In the following years AD and the Christian Democratic COPEI alternated in government. President Carlos Andrés Pérez Rodríguez (* 1922, † 2010) of the AD nationalized the iron ore industry in 1975 and the oil industry in 1976. The fourfold increase in the price of Venezuelan oil (1973/74) not only brought wealth to Venezuela, a founding member of OPEC, but also created a new economic elite and encouraged the emergence of corruption. Because of an economic crisis, Pérez continued in his second term (1988-93) through an economic austerity program that triggered social unrest and a general strike and in 1992 led to the attempted coup by the left-wing populist H. Chavez Frías. Corruption allegations led to the dismissal of Pérez in 1993. His successor R. Caldera Rodríguez (COPEI) tried unsuccessfully to contain the economic crisis.
“Bolivarian Revolution” under Chavez
Chávez Frias won the presidential elections on December 6, 1998 for the MVR he founded with a populist program (took office on February 2, 1999). The new constitution, which was adopted in a referendum in December 1999, strengthens v. a. the position of the president. In July 2000, Chavez was re-elected in office. Through populist actions (»Plan Bolívar«) and sometimes controversial interventions in the work of parliament, the judiciary and the media, he now sought to promote the renewal of the country. Against the controversial Chavez government after his re-election, there was a coup by the armed forces, bloody mass unrest and a general strike. The high oil prices allowed the government to pursue an expansive budget policy and social policy action programs. The core element became the “missiones” (missions), which were located outside the established administration, with the fields of training, land distribution, job creation, chain stores for the sale of state-subsidized food, medical care in slums and the integration of indigenous peoples. The practical results of these programs guaranteed Chavez’s high levels of sympathyv. a. in the poorer sections of the population. The “Bolivarian order” promoted by the president developed strong autocratic elements. Chávez won the presidential elections on December 3, 2006 with a clear majority. In a referendum on February 15, 2009, the population voted for a constitutional amendment, including the possibility of immediate and unlimited re-election of the president was established. In the presidential elections on October 7, 2012, Chávez again prevailed against the opposition candidate. He appointed Secretary of State N. Maduro Moros as Vice President. On 05/03/2013 died Chavez from cancer.
State and economic crisis under Maduro
According to usaers, Vice President Maduro took over the presidency on an interim basis. On April 14, 2013, he narrowly prevailed against opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski (* 1972) in the presidential elections. In October 2013, Maduro had a censorship agency set up to prevent negative reporting, in particular about the inflation crisis and the catastrophic supply situation in the country. In February / March 2014 there were repeated protests against government policies, some of which were violent, claiming 43 deaths. Maduro In February 2014 he ordered the arrest of numerous opposition politicians whom he accused of inciting violence. In the period that followed, the country’s economic situation deteriorated dramatically, also due to the sharp fall in the price of oil. The inflation rate rose to over 60%. With the introduction of a new exchange rate system, the Venezuelan currency was heavily devalued.
In the parliamentary elections on December 6, 2015, the government camp suffered a heavy defeat. The winner was the bourgeois-conservative alliance MUD. The power-political confrontation between parliament and the increasingly authoritarian Maduro government caused the internal crisis to escalate further in the period that followed. Maduro was imposed on January 15, 2016 the economic emergency. The population suffered from the world’s highest rate of inflation and increasing shortages of food and other basic necessities. As a result, three million citizens fled the country. After a failed referendum to remove the president in 2016 and the disempowerment of parliament by the president and the judiciary in 2017, which was withdrawn after heavy criticism from home and abroad, there were repeated bloody mass demonstrations against the government.
On May 1, 2017, Maduro convened a constituent assembly by decree. Almost only candidates close to the regime were eligible for election. The controversial election of the 545 members of the constituent assembly, boycotted by the opposition, took place on July 30, 2017. Bloody outbreaks of violence between security forces and demonstrators left ten dead on election day. The number of deaths since the mass demonstrations began in April 2017 has been put at more than 130. The constituent meeting of the constituent assembly was held on August 4th, 2017. The US tightened its sanctions policy against Venezuela. In the early presidential elections on May 20, 2018, largely boycotted by the opposition, President Maduro officially confirm with 68% of the votes in office. On January 23, 2019, parliamentary leader Juan Guaidó (* 1983) declared himself interim president of the Voluntad Popular and opposed Maduro, whom he accused of constant election manipulation, suppression of the opposition and undermining the separation of powers. Many governments, including those of the United States and Germany, recognized Guaidó as the legitimate interim president. In contrast, Russia, China and Turkey, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua support Maduro who bases his position of power essentially on the support of the traditionally powerful military in Venezuela. – In July 2019, representatives of the conflicting parties, mediated by the Norwegian government, met in Barbados for negotiations.
In the meantime, the severe supply crisis came to a head. The population increasingly suffered from hunger, a lack of medicines and an insecure supply of electricity.