Venezuela (officially Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , Spanish República Bolivariana de Venezuela [ Venezuelan pronunciation reˈpuβlika βoliβaˈɾjana ðe βeneˈswela ]) is a South American state on the Caribbean coast . It borders on Brazil to the south, Colombia to the west and Guyana to the east .
Venezuela gained independence from the colonial power of Spain in 1811 . Since the Bolivarian Revolution of 1999, the country has had a socialist presidential system of the ruling party, Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela . Venezuela has been ruled by its party leader Nicolás Maduro since 2014 , whose reign is increasingly marked by political protests and international isolation. Experts and observers from left to right assess the style of government as authoritarian and complain about the restrictions on the separation of powers , free choice and democratic principles. A recall referendum that came about was prevented with tricks in 2016. The since 2015 opposition Parliament was bypassed since the elections of 2015 by emergency decrees and first deposed in March 2017 controlled by the de facto by the President of the Supreme Court, after one was unconstitutional to disempowerment of Parliament constituent assembly convened, which in addition, the Attorney General Luisa Ortega dismissed, which only Parliament was authorized to do. Opposition politicians were arrested. Globally, the country was seen by critics of the disempowerment of parliament in 2017 as being on the way to a civil dictatorship or, due to the immensely important role of the military, to a military dictatorship .
Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world. But within the 2010 decade , the global oil price collapsed. The Venezuelan economy, which is almost entirely dependent on oil exports, is among the a. therefore in a severe crisis characterized by hyperinflation , supply bottlenecks and famine with a poverty rate that rose over 50 percent from 2014, had reached around 80 percent in 2016 and probably 90 percent by the end of 2018.
Etymology of the name Venezuela
There are two theories about the origin of the name “Venezuela”: Some ascribe it to Amerigo Vespucci , who led an expedition along the north-western coast with Alonso de Ojeda in 1499 (now known as the Gulf of Venezuela ). When they reached the Guajira Peninsula , the crew observed the stilt houses (palafitos) that the Añu had built over the water. These reminded Vespucci of the city of Venezia ( Venice ) and as a result the region was called Venezuela, which means something like "Little Venice".
On the other hand, the Spanish conquistador and geographer Martín Fernández de Enciso , member of the same team, says in his text “Suma de Geografía” that the population of this region inhabited a flat rock and was called “Veneciuela”.
Venezuela has a coastline of around 2800 km . About 39% of the total area is forested, 20% consists of meadows and pastureland, 4% is fields and arable land.
It borders on three states: in the east on Guyana with 743 km of border, in the south lies Brazil with 1819 km of border and in the west Colombia with 2050 km of border. The total length of Venezuela's national borders is 4612 kilometers.
Venezuela can be divided into five geographic areas: the Andes , which extend in a broad east-west arc from the Colombian border along the Caribbean Sea to the east; the Orinoco Plains ( Llanos ) in the center; the Maracaibo lowlands around the local brackish lake in the northwest and the Guiana highlands in the southeast. Then there are the Venezuelan Caribbean islands . Venezuela is the sixth largest country in South America. The landscape is very diverse; the strongest contrast is formed by the dune landscapes on the Isthmus of Coro and the swamps of the Amacuro Delta, or the snow-capped mountains of the Cordillera de Mérida and the wide plains in the heart of the country.
With a particularly large variety of species and biodiversity , an extremely large number of endemic species, genera and families of plants and animals as well as diverse ecosystems , Venezuela is counted among the megadiversity countries on earth.
In Venezuela today there are 43 national parks (see list of national parks in Venezuela ) and 36 natural monuments. 62.9 percent (2007) of the country's area are designated as protected. Venezuela has the highest percentage of nature reserves in North and South America (compared to, for example, Brazil with 18.5 percent).
The country can be divided into the following four major natural areas :
The peaks of the Venezuelan Andes reach up to almost 5000 m. A large part of Venezuela's population lives in the fertile valleys between the mountains and industry and agriculture are also concentrated here. The rugged mountain ranges on the Colombian border, on the other hand, are the most sparsely populated part of this region.
South of Lake Maracaibo, the highest mountain in Venezuela, the Pico Bolívar at rises in the Andean arch . Some peaks in this region are covered in snow all year round. A wide valley separates this mountain range from another that follows the coast. The capital Caracas is also located in this valley. This relatively small area is the most densely populated region in the country. The most intensive agriculture is practiced here and the transport network is best developed.
The great plains of the Llanos extend south of the mountains . They stretch from the Caribbean coast in the east to the Colombian border. The Orinoco forms the southern border. In front of the mainland is the island of Margarita .
The Maracaibo lowlands
The Maracaibo lowlands are surrounded by mountain ranges, with the exception of the north. Here it borders the Caribbean Sea. This region is very flat and only rises slightly towards the surrounding mountains. The 13,000 km² and up to 50 m deep Maracaibo Lake occupies a large part of the lower lying areas. It is connected to the Gulf of Venezuela by the approximately 75 km long Canal de San Carlos . Venezuela's richest oil reserves are located under the eastern shore of the lake.
The largest city in the region is the port city of Maracaibo on the lake of the same name.
The Guiana highlands rise southeast of the Orinoco and are one of the oldest landscapes in South America. This highland, which is characterized by plateaus and tributaries of the Orinoco, takes up more than half of the land area of Venezuela. The most striking formation in this region is the Gran Sabana , a large, heavily eroded plateau. Over the course of millions of years, the sandstone masses were removed and what remained were jagged valleys and huge, massive table mountains ( tepuis ). Their age is estimated to be 70 million years. The 115 different tepuis in this area are characterized by a unique and peculiar flora and fauna on their high plateaus, because many endemic species have developed due to the isolation .
The highest waterfalls in the world fall from the Table Mountains, such as the Salto Kukenan and the highest waterfall in the world, the Salto Ángel with a height of 978 meters. It is also one of the most famous sights of the Canaima National Park , which has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Rivers and hydrography
The Orinoco is with a length of 2574 km of the largest and most important of the more than a thousand rivers in the country. In 1958 it still had no bridge in its entire length that crossed it. It rises in the border area between Venezuela and Brazil on one of the largest watersheds in Latin America. The water level of the Orinoco fluctuates considerably depending on the season. The highest levels are measured in August and exceed the lows of March and April by over seven meters. Most of the river bed has only a slight slope.
Below the upper reaches there is a geographical phenomenon that is rare in the world: the river splits into two arms, a so-called bifurcation . The Brazo Casiquiare (literally: Casiquiare arm), a natural canal, connects the two independent river systems of the Orinoco and the Amazon. A third of the water flows over the Rio Negro (Amazonia) into the Amazon, the rest flows further into the main channel of the Orinoco. This passage allows ships with shallow drafts to switch from the Orinoco to the river system of the Amazon. As a result, the huge areas between the Orinoco, the Amazon and the Atlantic form an island.
Most of the rivers that have their source in the northern mountains flow in a south-easterly direction to the Río Apure , a tributary of the Orinoco. The Apure flows through the Llanos in an easterly direction. In the low-precipitation area south of the Apure, there are no significant headwaters.
Another important river is the Río Caroní , which is characterized primarily by its high flow speed. It rises in the highlands of Guyana and flows into the Orinoco at the height of Ciudad Guayana . The Caroní is particularly suitable for the construction of hydropower plants and thus makes a significant contribution to Venezuela's energy balance.
Santa Elena de Uairén
Although Venezuela is located in the middle of the tropical climate zone, depending on the altitude, the topography and the direction and intensity of the prevailing winds, you can find all types of climates from tropical humid to alpine climates. Seasonal fluctuations differ less in temperature than in the different amounts of precipitation. Most of the country has the rainy season from May to October .
The country is divided into four temperature zones, most of which can be traced back to the respective altitude: In the tropical zone (below 800 m), the average annual temperature is between 26 ° C and 28 ° C. The temperate zone with average temperatures of 12 ° C to 25 ° C extends between 800 andabove sea level. Most of Venezuela's cities are located here, including the capital Caracas. Colder conditions with temperatures of 9 ° C to 11 ° C are found in the cool zone between 2000 and 3000 m. Pasture land characterizes the landscape in the high mountains (from 3000 m above sea level) and over 4000 meters there are permanent snow fields. The annual average temperatures here are below 8 ° C.
Annual rainfall ranges from 430 mm in the semi- arid lowlands and plains in the western part of the Caribbean coast to around 1000 mm in the Orinoco Triangle. In the mountain regions, the amount of precipitation fluctuates considerably, because less rain falls in the depressions than on the mountain flanks, which are exposed to the northeast winds.
In Caracas, half of the annual precipitation falls from June to August with 750 mm.
The country's mean maximum temperature is between 30 ° C and 31 ° C. However, the temperature in individual locations can deviate from this average value, so it is not uncommon for maximum temperatures of around 40 ° C. The mean minimum temperature is between 7 ° C and 12 ° C, depending on the month, although it hardly falls below 10 ° C from April to November. From July to January it rains for almost half a month, in the other months there are only one to seven rainy days per month.
In 1964, the time zone in Venezuela was realigned to the 60th degree of longitude ( UTC − 4 , previously UTC − 4: 30 ). On December 9, 2007, the clock was set back by half an hour, and the time zone UTC-4: 30 (VST - Venezuelan Standard Time) was applied again. Since May 1, 2016, the time UTC-4 has been in effect again , among other things in the hope of being able to reduce power consumption.
The capital Caracas is the second largest city in the country and the largest metropolitan area in the country.
Venezuela has around 31 million inhabitants. Of these, 51.6% are mestizos . 43.6% of Venezuelans are of European , 3.6% of black African and 2.8% of Indian descent. The annual population growth is 1.3% (2016).
The birth rate is 19.2 (per 1000 inhabitants, value 2016). On average, every woman gives birth to 2.35 children (value 2016), with the infant mortality rate being 12.5 (per 1000 births, value 2000). The death rate of 5.2 (per 1000 inhabitants, value 2016) is well below the birth rate. The median age was 28 years.
About 85% of the population live in the urban areas in the north of the country. In the area south of the Orinoco, which takes up almost half of the country's area, only 5% of the population live, including indigenous tribes with a traditional way of life such as the Waika .
The 2% Indians belong to about 24 different groups. The largest indigenous peoples are the Wayuu (Guajiro) north of Maracaibo , the De'áruwa (Piaroa), Wayapopihíwi (Guajibo), Ye'kuana and Yanomami in the Amazon region (300 to 400 of them in the Parima-Tapirapeco National Park in voluntary isolation ), the Warao in the Orinoco Delta and the Pemón in the southeast of Guiana .
In a survey by the polling institute Gallup in December 2012, the people of the country were among the happiest people on earth. 4 years later there was a supply crisis. Tens of thousands of people had left the country; at the end of summer 2017, Colombia alone issued 62,000 temporary residence permits for refugee Venezuelans within four weeks.
Article 9 of the 1999 Constitution defines Castilian as the official language and, for the indigenous peoples, the indigenous languages. These "must be respected in the entire territory of the republic, since they represent a cultural wealth of the nation and humanity."
The 35 different indigenous groups of Venezuela belong to the large language groups of Arahuaca (Araguaca), Caribs (Caribbean languages), Chibcha and Tupí-Guaraní. About a dozen of the languages spoken in Venezuela cannot be assigned to any major language group. Wayuu , Pemón and Warao (indigenous languages) are particularly well-known . Warao is spoken by around 30,000 Warao Indian tribes worldwide, almost all of whom live in Venezuela. The majority of the Caribbean Indian tribe of the Pemón lives in Gran Sabana in Bolívar , where this language is spoken.
96% of the population are Roman Catholic, two percent belong to the Protestant faith. 104,000 Venezuelans (0.3%) were Jehovah's Witnesses in 2007 . In 2005, 12,000 inhabitants (0.04%) committed to the New Apostolic Church . About 95,000 inhabitants (0.3%) profess Islam. Jews and followers of indigenous South American religions form further minorities (as of 2006). In addition, some smaller syncretistic cults have spread in the country, including the María Lionza cult . The most important saint is José Gregorio Hernández . His figures, with black felt hats and elegant suits, can be found in apartments, shops and churches.
Folk healers (curanderos) and shamans are traditionally widespread and practice not only naturopathy, but also magical rites, which were increasingly influenced by Santería in the second half of the 20th century . Depending on the source, 30 percent to 50 percent of the population practice one form of spiritism or another. Superstition and witchcraft are widespread and intensified again in the supply crisis from 2013 onwards.
Venezuela has both a state and a private school and university system. In a Latin American comparison, the university system is very good, but there are still clear deficits in the state school system . The compulsory education of nine years, but these 1998, only about 60% met the school children.
There were always literacy campaigns. These were especially promoted in the forties and eighties. With the high national debt in the late 1980s and the introduction of the IMF's strict austerity programs, spending on education was cut back sharply during the second presidency of Carlos Andrés Pérez and his successors Ramón José Velásquez and Rafael Caldera . The illiteracy rate in 1997 was just under ten percent. New efforts were made to reduce the rate under the Chavez government. Misión Robinson I and II were literacy programs for adults in which almost 1.5 million people and 600,000 people, respectively, had participated by the end of 2005; it offered courses to obtain a primary school certificate (6th grade).
This fulfills the UNESCO criteria that allow a country with an illiteracy rate of less than four percent to be declared free of illiteracy.
The programs were also launched with Venezuelan and Cuban assistance in Bolivia, where the illiteracy rate was reduced from 14% in the 2001 census to less than 5% in 2008. According to the statistics of the INE (Instituto Nacional de Estadística), the illiteracy rate in 2001 was 7.02% of the population. The 2011 census showed a rate of 5.23%.
State education system
In addition to the private, paid school system, there had been a free school system since 1870. In 1975 the Fundación Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho (Fundayacucho) was set up, a foundation that has since organized scholarships for students at home and abroad.
Developments after the Bolivarian Revolution 2003
From 2003 the state expanded the system with a parallel, so-called Bolivarian school system . However, this new system showed deficits. The Bolivarian education system is aimed at both adults and school-age children. The adult education programs are organized in so-called missions . They started after the general strike in spring 2003 and are offered decentrally:
In 2003 the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela was founded, at which, in contrast to the national university, anyone with a secondary school diploma can study. At this university there are currently 11 courses of study relevant to development (e.g. community medicine, social work, pedagogy, law). The training consists equally of university and practical components. Since the Bolivarian university cannot accept all interested parties, decentralized study circles have been set up, which are supplied by lecturers, students in higher semesters and via correspondence courses. The decentralized higher education is the content of the Misión Sucre .
Bolivarian pre-schools, elementary schools and secondary schools are being built in the slums. The schools are designed as all-day schools; All employees (teachers, psychologists and craftsmen) should also be involved in the conception of the schools. Schools should provide school clothes, two meals a day, and medical care for the children. The learning content is not only the usual school subjects, but also coping with everyday life.
In 2003, 2800 new schools were founded, some of which had already been implemented. According to the NGO Organization for the Defense of the Right to Education , school principals in the state of Anzoátegui illegally attempt to charge school fees for lessons and offer poorer quality school than in official statements when the security situation is poor.
As of 2009, students in over 1000 schools in Venezuela were taught how to use computers from first grade onwards. The schools are equipped with laptops with their own Linux distribution called Canaima installed. As of March 2010, all 5700 primary schools in the state should be equipped accordingly. By December 2012, 30,000 students had been equipped with these computers.
Venezuela, along with Bolivia, Paraguay, Ecuador, Guyana and Suriname, is one of the South American countries that do not take part in the PISA study.
Music education El Sistema
From 1975 the Venezuelan economist and musician José Antonio Abreu built up a nationwide network of youth orchestras ( El Sistema ), which gave over 300,000 children and young people free access to music lessons and their own instrument and to the highest musical performances such as the internationally renowned Orquesta Sinfónica de la Juventud Venezolana Simón Bolívar lead. According to the government, El Sistema's music education work helped break the cycle of poverty and violence. In 2009 the documentary El Sistema by Paul Smaczny and Maria Stodtmeier was made . In 2017, 827,000 young people were officially enrolled. According to Geoffrey Baker, tours of the top orchestras were funded by the government for propaganda purposes.
A project by the new government under President Chavez, in which initially only 2,000 Cuban doctors and later also local doctors took part, increased care for the poorest sections of the population in the first half of the 2000s. In addition, a nutrition project was run to ensure that the poor were supplied with food in the Mercal markets at subsidized prices.
In the middle of 2003, the Misión Barrio Adentro (deep in the district) began to build up comprehensive free medical care. At the end of 2006, 20,000 Cuban and 4,000 Venezuelan doctors were working in the program to establish health care in the slums. The care was free of charge, the medication was provided by the state. The medical stations are built from a kit consisting of a small practice and a small apartment. The population was cared for by a Cuban and a Venezuelan doctor (or higher semester students). The goal was that the Cuban doctor would hand over the practice to his Venezuelan colleague after two years and that he would train another Venezuelan. In the long term, 200,000 doctors were to be trained in this way within ten years, who would then have treated all of Latin America.
By 2015 the situation had changed dramatically, and not only in the slums: there was always a shortage of medical staff, equipment was broken and the pharmacies only stocked just under half of the usual medicines even in the capital. By 2016 there was a further deterioration and instead of being able to rely on a free health system, those who wanted rapid treatment bought the drugs themselves on the black market. In December 2016, the NZZ described the Valencia Hospital , a former reference center, as a “reference center for the humanitarian crisis”. Surveys showed increasing malnutrition and malnutrition. In March 2017, President Maduro asked the UN for help with the supply of medicines. For lack of resources, doctors could not treat their patients according to the rules of the art. The malaria was eradicated in Venezuela, after the start of the re-transmission of the disease occurred in 2016 with an increase by 76 percent to 240,000 diseases, in the first half of 2018 to 500,000 diseases with 820 deaths; the world's largest increase was reported for 2019. Child and maternal mortality rose by 30 and 65 percent respectively after 2014. The health minister was fired in 2017 for publishing these figures. Caritas warned in autumn 2017 that up to 280,000 children in the country could die as a result of malnutrition.
Due to the disastrous situation of the health system in 2018, the shamans , who are frequent in South America, were very popular, also because they could do without conventional medicine, which hardly anyone could still afford. Meanwhile, the medical association estimated the diagnostic devices still in use in the country at around 20 percent of the total. The government, meanwhile, denied the health crisis, while the WHO called on neighboring countries to provide medical care to the emigrants, regardless of the legality of the emigrants, in order to prevent the spread of diseases to other countries in Latin America. Colombia had set up vaccination stations at the border crossings , which were also visited by mothers who had to travel for hours with their children from the interior of Venezuela. The BBC summarized in February 2019 that doctors said they could sometimes only help their patients die instead of living, while hospitals were demanding that patients rent equipment and buy their own medicines. According to estimates by the professional association, a third of the 66,000 doctors in the country according to official information from 2014 had emigrated by the beginning of 2019.
In April 2019, the ICRC , which otherwise focuses on aid in war and disaster areas, supplied emergency generators and medicines for hospitals, while President Maduro continued to insist that there was no humanitarian crisis.
In January 2020, the German Medical Journal reported on the collapse of medical care in Venezuela.
In the cities, state-subsidized food has been offered in Mercal markets since 2003 . In 2005 Mercal stores sold 40% of the staple food and 20% of all food across the country. The prices were artificially between 30% and 70% below those of normal shops. The aim was to provide food throughout the country, especially for the poor. In 2006 there were 14,000 stores. Another program to improve the nutritional situation of the poor population was the so-called Casas de Alimentación (people's kitchens ), which are organized in the barrios themselves and with state funding provided 2-3 meals free of charge. Since Chávez took office, the provision of meals for children at school has also been expanded to ensure that they are fed without financial means.
Thanks to nutrition programs and improved food production, the number of people suffering from malnutrition in the country has been significantly reduced. The Food and Agriculture Organization representative of the United Nations , Alfedo Missair, said in 2010 that Venezuela is on track to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goals, which aim to halve the number of people suffering from malnutrition between 1990 and 2015. With 3.7 percent of the population suffering from malnutrition, Venezuela is well below the Latin American average of six percent. The average intake of food energy increased from 8,870 kJ (= 2,120 kcal) in 1999 to 11,640 kJ (= 2,780 kcal) per day in 2010. Venezuela became the country with the highest obesity rate in South America and the third in Latin America after Saint Kitts and Nevis as well as Mexico. However, supply bottlenecks had already begun in 2009 with price increases of up to 50 percent, to which the government reacted with expropriations in the food industry. Three quarters of the food was imported.
During the supply crisis in 2015/2016, however, a famine seemed foreseeable. Buying too much food could result in arrest, and the food distribution military was suspected of enrichment. The sarcastic name “Maduro diet” describes the fact that three quarters of the population in 2016/2017 lost eight kilograms per person within one year. In 2018, Caritas announced that 12 percent of the children were severely malnourished and that 300,000 were at risk of death. Instead, food allotments were used by the government for political control and the diagnosis of "malnutrition" was all but banned.
Local Comité de Abastecimiento y Producción (CLAP) 2016
Local committees were created in 2016 to improve the supply of basic foodstuffs. According to the president's words, they were supposed to eliminate the speculators and criminals of “parasitic capitalism”, but they encouraged favoritism and opened the door to theft. The system did not reach everyone, and the receipt of the parcels was linked to the Carnet de la Patria, which allows the state to control social issues such as rewarding voters, even those who “speak badly about Maduro will get nothing”.
One of Venezuela's greatest problems, crime, worsened again significantly after Chavez took office, even though more than 20 different security plans had been launched from 1999 onwards.
The death rate per 100,000 inhabitants continued to rise with the expansion of the economic crisis from 2014; According to UN figures, Venezuela had the third highest killing rate among the 97 countries for which data were available in 2016, with a total of 17,778 kills according to the UN definition in the country (in Germany 963 with more than twice as many inhabitants). According to the United Nations, the development until 2016 was as follows:
Amnesty International , however, named a number of 21,700 victims for 2016, which corresponds to a death rate of over 70. Based on figures from non-governmental organizations, AI estimated a rate of 89 for 2017, even according to the government it was 62.
Statistics could previously be compiled from the reports of the Venezuelan national police agency CIPCP for each region. In Venezuela, over 85,000 people died as a result of violent crimes between 2000 and 2007 - numbers that were much higher than in previous decades, as NGOs (including Amnesty International Venezuela) announced at a conference in April 2007.
In 2005, up to 44 people died every day as a result of violent crimes in Venezuela. According to the UN, in 2007 Venezuela had the world's highest rate of gun violence. In March 2007 Venezuela passed a law to protect women against violence. In 2008, Amnesty International criticized the persistence of violence against women despite the new law, as well as persistent violent political clashes between supporters and opponents of the government, against which the government is doing nothing effectively.
Some of the 295 police officers killed in 2013 died simply because someone wanted their guns; in 2014 there were 338 officers from various services. It is estimated that 92 percent of all crimes remain unsolved. After the lack of statistics, which was also interpreted as a deliberate concealment of the government, journalists compiled the murder statistics through daily visits to the morgues.
The drug trade increased markedly in a few years up to 2015; Colombian drug traffickers seem to find better conditions in Venezuela than in Colombia. The drug lord Makled boasted that he had 40 Venezuelan generals on his payroll.
According to Amnesty International in 2006, there have been reports - a pattern has been suggested for several states - that among the more than 6,000 people killed by police between 2000 and 2005, there were incidents of extrajudicial executions of mere crime Suspects were present. In addition, people disappeared and relatives were intimidated. In 2017, the UN complained about the use of firearms, which might have been executions, while an NGO listed the disappearances and torture of those arrested in demonstrations. In 2018, Amnesty International complained about extrajudicial executions in the context of what the government claims to be "tried and tested crime control" in the range of thousands of cases for the years 2015 to 2017. According to a report by the NGO Observatorio Venezolano de Violencia, 7,523 deaths were the result of a total of 23,047 killings in 2018 Attributed to "resistance against the state authorities", therefore, were not carried out by criminals. In four states, the total homicide rate was 100 or well above.
According to the Federal Foreign Office, there was a particular risk in Venezuela in 2012 due to kidnappings for the purpose of extorting money payments and armed attacks. Street crime in large Venezuelan cities, especially in Caracas , was high. In the past, during controls by uniformed officers in the city, at roadside checks and even at the airport, travelers were robbed by uniformed inspectors or forced to pay or exchange money. In the areas along the Colombian border, there was an increased risk of kidnapping and other violent crimes as a result of the Colombian internal conflict . Particular caution should be exercised with taxis and at night; however, there have also been attacks in hotel complexes in the past. Controls at Venezuelan airports went beyond what is generally customary at international airports: when leaving Venezuela, time-consuming checks could be carried out, as the Venezuelan authorities carried out extensive checks to combat drug trafficking - damage to luggage could result. It could also not be ruled out that, in unforeseeable cases, the usual and in some cases inadequately carried out X-ray control, which was the rule before the introduction of full-body scanners, was carried out in a hospital in the vicinity of the airport. The problem was solved by the complete collapse of tourism in the following years.
Social control (Carnet de la Patria)
In the official language of the ministry, the Carnet de la Patria, introduced in January 2017, connects “the citizen directly with the president”, without intermediaries and corruption and is a “means of social justice and participation”. In spring 2018, Maduro's election propaganda referred to it as the “card of miracles”. Public service employees, as well as retirees, employees of state companies and students were pressured to obtain a card. Use the card were food, housing, health care and jobs distributed and it was needed to adapt to the university to enroll or medications for chronic diseases to get to for wage payments, but also to continue to receive the gasoline (almost) free instead to pay the world market price as intended. The card owners had to provide information about their place of residence, children, animals, their monthly income, the existence of social media accounts, party affiliation, participation in non-profit associations and membership in organizations.
In the 2017 local elections, voters were asked to have their Carnet de la Patria scanned at stands (“puntos rojos”) right next to the voting booths run by militant members of the Socialist Party. Already when the card was introduced in January it was commented that the card should serve to buy political votes, later there was talk of the formation of a two-class society based on political affiliation. The Communist Party of Venezuela also criticized the unequal treatment of citizens, because "constitutional rights should not be granted graciously by anyone".
Until the 19th century
In pre-Columbian times, Venezuela was home to Indian groups, nomadic hunters and gatherers, as well as fishermen and farmers. On his third voyage in 1498, Christopher Columbus reached the eastern coast of Venezuela and went ashore at the mouth of the Orinoco River . It was the first time he and his crew set foot on the American mainland. On August 24, 1499, an expedition of Alonso de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci followed , who allegedly gave the country the name Venezuela (Little Venice) because of the frequent use of stilt houses. This theory comes from Vespucci's travelogue Cuatro Navegaciones (“four boat trips”) and is generally known, but not historically proven.
The first permanent settlement of the Spaniards called Nueva Cádiz was established in 1522. From 1528 to 1545, the province of Venezuela was pledged by Charles V to the Welser , who operated the colony of Little Venice during this period . The current capital, Caracas , was founded in 1567, and in 1577 the Spanish crown appointed a governor to manage it.
The colony was rather neglected by the Spanish in the 16th and 17th centuries, as they focused on the gold from other parts of America. The cultivation of cocoa, sugar, tobacco, coffee and cotton resulted in large numbers of slaves being brought to Venezuela, who, after much of the native culture was destroyed, influenced the culture of Venezuela. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Christianization of Indian tribes began by missionaries of the Roman Church. Politically, the country was initially part of the viceroyalty of New Spain ( Nueva España ), formed in 1535, with its capital Mexico. In 1717 and then finally in 1739 it was added to the newly founded viceroyalty of New Granada . In 1777 the governorship of Venezuela was established.
From 1797 to 1821 there were repeated attempts to detach New Granada from Spanish rule. In 1821 Simón Bolívar succeeded in leading the wars of independence in Venezuela to a victorious end. Venezuela became part of the Republic of Greater Colombia newly created by Bolívar in 1819 . A few days after his death in 1830, Venezuela fell away from this union and declared itself independent.
In 1864 Venezuela was converted into a Federal Republic. A series of civil wars and revolutions followed, which influenced the political development of the country.
First half of the 20th century
The first years of the 20th century were determined by the dictatorship of Juan Vicente Gómez . After his death, the country was partially liberalized, including by Eleazar López Contreras . This policy was continued by Isaías Medina Angarita . In June 1941, for example, the social democratic party Acción Democrática (AD) and in October 1945 the Communist Party were legalized, and in April a constitutional reform was implemented.
Due to individual shortcomings for which the government was partly responsible, the opposition and parts of the military carried out a coup on October 18, 1945 against the government of Medina Angaritas . The government, which came to power through the coup, immediately implemented the reforms sought. The electoral law of 1945 granted women the right to vote for local representative bodies for the first time. On March 28, 1946, universal, equal and direct suffrage was established. This achieved the active and passive right to vote for women .
On December 14, 1947, a president was elected directly by the people for the first time. Rómulo Gallegos was to become the first elected president. However, he did not stay in office for long, because shortly afterwards there was another military coup.
From 1948 Venezuela was led by a military junta , from 1952 under dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez . With its fall in 1958, Venezuela became a democracy . From then until the 1990s, the two determining parties were the social democratic Acción Democrática and the conservative COPEI , which also provided the presidents. During the first term of office of Carlos Andrés Pérez (1974–1979), the country's income from petroleum exports rose so rapidly that the country was one of the most prosperous countries in South America , “[...] from 1973 to 1983, Venezuela has around the sale of petroleum Taken 240 billion dollars, that is about ten times what the Marshall Plan envisaged ”( Arturo Uslar Pietri ), the associated distribution policy led to, by Latin American standards, an extraordinarily high level of political stability in the country. The development of the education system also manifested itself in an improved distribution in the country.
With the rapid decline in the price of oil since 1983, however, this income collapsed, and since there were no other branches of the economy that could compensate for the falling oil revenues, this, together with the ever-increasing foreign debt (1993: 45 billion dollars), led to a sustained economic crisis .
Carlos Andrés Pérez was heavily criticized for massive corruption. He was re-elected for the 1989–1994 term with great expectations.
Michael Zeuske sees domestic political problems, corruption, elite mismanagement, massive bad investments, inadequate education policy and the neglect of entire economic sectors, such as agriculture, as the main causes of the subsequent largest recession in the country's history. Venezuela was de facto bankrupt and the austerity measures demanded for loans from the International Monetary Fund were carried out unilaterally on the back of the poorest. On February 27, 1989, after an overnight sharp rise in the prices for local public transport, there was a nationwide uprising and hunger riot, the so-called Caracazo . As a result of their violent suppression, officially 246, according to unofficial estimates, well over 1,000–3,000 people died in barely two days. The long-term consequence was an increasing shift in power towards the military, such as the collapse of the social consensus and the parties that had been established until then. After two coup attempts in 1992, one on February 4 by Hugo Chávez and another on November 27, 1992, a year of negative growth and the ousting of President Pérez by the Supreme Court for embezzlement and corruption, Rafael Caldera was elected as the new president in 1994 . Although he managed to stabilize politically by 1998, he was unable to cope with the economic crisis either (1994: inflation rate : 71 percent, severe currency crisis and bank crash).
"Chavismus" from 1998
Chavez government from 1998 to 2013
On December 6, 1998, Hugo Chávez, the founder of the Movimiento Quinta República and leader of an attempted coup against the Venezuelan government under Carlos Andrés Pérez (1992), was elected president with 56 percent of the vote. Chávez was an advocate of the Bolivarian Revolution , his declared goals were the fight against corruption, the creation and strengthening of direct democratic participation opportunities in the political system, and the guarantee and defense of national and economic independence. After drafting a new “Bolivarian” constitution and adopting it by referendum, Chávez was confirmed as president in 2000 with 60 percent. Venezuela's national name has since been "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela" and is often referred to as the "Fifth Republic" ( quinta república ). One of the innovations of the constitution was the possibility of circumventing parliament through “referendums” decided by the president, including the one on his unlimited term of office.
On April 11, 2002, a coup against the Chavez government failed . However, the coup plotters previously convicted in a lower instance, including three high-ranking military officials, were acquitted by the TSJ Supreme Court.
The coup was preceded by strikes and lockouts by the employers' association. At the state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA), there were acts of sabotage and unauthorized absence from work by senior employees and members of the management. Since the supposed strike was not even coordinated within the union, the International Labor Organization did not recognize it as a strike. In addition, there was also a so-called tax strike by the wealthy sections of the population.
In 2004, the opposition gathered signatures for a referendum to vote Chavez out. After the responsible electoral authority determined that the necessary number of signatures (around 2.5 million) had just been reached, Chavez declared that he would face this referendum. Due to the remarkably high rush on the day of the vote, Chavez was confirmed in office with a high turnout (73 percent) with 59.25 percent (almost five million voters). The opposition accused Chavez of electoral fraud , but a vote recount it initiated and carried out by the Organization of American States and the Carter Center confirmed the election result.
On December 3, 2006, Chavez was re-elected in the presidential election with 62.89 percent of the vote. In the election there were a total of 18 candidates for the office. The social democratic rival Rosales, leader of the opposition to Chavez, received 36.85 percent of the vote. The voter turnout was about 75 percent, the highest since 1988. The observers sent by the European Union assumed a smooth election, but the official report highlighted the strong institutional propaganda mainly for President and candidate Chávez as well as the unbalanced reporting in both criticized public as well as in the private media. In addition, there was pressure on government employees to vote for Chavez or to participate in election campaigns for his re-election. This is a violation of the international principles of free voting .
In September 2010 the elections for the National Assembly took place. The PSUV and PCV got 98 seats with a share of the vote of 48.13% and lost their previous two-thirds majority, the table of democratic unity (Mesa de la Unidad) got 65 seats with a share of the vote of 47.22% and Patria Para Todos got 2 Seats for 3.14% of the vote. Later, Patria Para Todos stated that they would be part of the MUD.
However, the outgoing National Assembly passed an enabling law for Chávez that allowed the president to pass special laws without parliamentary approval for 18 months.
On October 7, 2012, Hugo Chávez was re-elected as president for the third time and remained so until his death on March 5, 2013. After that, Vice-President Nicolás Maduro took over the presidential duties as deputy head of state, despite a decision by the Constitutional Court on whether the task Instead, Diosdado Cabello was not entitled to in his capacity as President of Parliament, nor was it pending.
After the death of Hugo Chávez on March 5, 2013, there were new elections on April 14, 2013 , which Nicolás Maduro surprisingly narrowly won with 50.78%. The result of the election, which was only accompanied by a few international observers, was questioned, led to protests and, after some back and forth, was ultimately not verified by a recount.
Maduro government from 2013
In February 2014, Venezuela was rocked by a wave of protests against President Nicolás Maduro . According to official figures, at least 42 people died during their violent crackdown, both on the part of opponents of the government and on the part of their supporters. At least 785 people were injured. In addition, around 2,200 people were arrested, including 58 foreigners, on charges of stirring up unrest in the country. The reasons for the protests are high inflation, widespread corruption and the high level of crime in the country. The president described the protests as an attempted coup.
After a special meeting of the Organization of American States requested by Panama because of the unrest, Venezuela broke off diplomatic and economic relations with Panama on March 5, 2014 - President Maduro accused the country of conspiracy with the USA against Venezuela.
Beginning of the supply crisis from 2013
In 2014, inflation was 64 percent. The reason Maduro called a "US conspiracy" by keeping oil prices low. The official exchange rate of the bolívar against the dollar has been 6.3 bolívares for years; 30 times as much was paid on the black market in early 2015. Until then, there were government-set prices for 21,000 products and services, and there were no basic supplies. Since there was also a lack of basic food, some of the people were already starving. National Guard soldiers were stationed in front of large supermarkets. Fitch rated government bonds at the lowest level, CCC . In February 2015, although it had not changed, crime was no longer classified as the greatest concern, but the supply situation. In view of the parliamentary elections, the government practiced the rhetoric of a plot and attempted coup by the “right-wing extremist opposition”. With such reservations, on February 19, 2015, one of the most prominent opposition politicians, the mayor of the capital Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, was arrested. The Bishops' Conference now named the totalitarian system as the central problem. If the president loses the support of the army, the national guard, the colectivos (paramilitary groups) or parts of them, a critical point for a military coup would be reached.
In the 2015 parliamentary elections , an opposition alliance achieved a two-thirds majority. However, the Venezuelan Supreme Court declared the election of four members of the Bolivar region (including three from the opposition) to be invalid, with the opposition losing a two-thirds majority. In May 2018, the state was still not represented and no investigation into the original allegations had been conducted.
In February 2016, a state of emergency was declared unlawfully and without the necessary consent of Parliament. Although this is only possible for a limited time according to the constitution, it was arbitrarily "extended every time the maximum duration is exceeded" by Maduro, until at least May 2018.
Also in February 2016, the government increased the “absurdly” low gasoline prices by up to 6,000 percent. One tank of beer now cost the equivalent of a can of beer (a similar cut in subsidies had led to riots in 1989 with several hundred deaths). Mineral water, on the other hand, became a scarce commodity, as the state-regulated maximum price would not even have covered the price of bottle production. Overseas grain shipments declined due to the state's debt to suppliers of $ 15 billion. According to the pharmacists' association, 90 percent of all drugs were in short supply. Groceries and toiletries became scarce. Due to the shortage of goods, with economic output falling by more than 18 percent, an extremely high inflation of around 800 percent was recorded, after it had officially been 141 to 180 percent for 2015, for food it was closer to 300 percent. The black market price for one US dollar rose to 1,150 bolívares by April 2016. In April 2016, the government introduced a temporary 4-day week to reduce electricity consumption. The country's largest mobile network providers announced that they would no longer offer international calls from the country in the future due to unpaid bills. Numerous airlines stopped their routes because ticket revenue was inaccessible, and mail was only delivered irregularly. Areas of health care threatened to collapse due to a lack of care.
During this supply crisis, a large-scale military maneuver was carried out with 520,000 soldiers, reservists and volunteers. The opposition presidential candidate from 2013, Henrique Capriles, said: "The war that has to be declared in Venezuela is the one against hunger."
In the meantime, Venezuela had opened the border with Colombia for 12 hours in July 2016 after 11 months of isolation so that people could shop there - previously the border had already been broken by hundreds of women to buy groceries. An article in Weltwoche stated that it was not a question of whether there would be a hunger riot, the question was when. For a long time, all adults had been assigned days on the basis of the final digits of their identity cards on which they were allowed to buy regulated goods, two final digits sharing a day. In July 2016, Jan Christoph Wiechmann described an early morning 500 meter long queue in the Tagesanzeiger magazine in front of a supermarket that opened only four hours later . There was a lot of shopping traffic on the open Brazilian border.
In July 2016 the government placed the 5 most important ports under military control; on July 11, Maduro announced that he and his defense minister would take "full command of the country's supplies". The fact that the ministers had to report to General Vladimir Padrino López on many issues was also commented on as a silent military coup.
In October the Supreme Court ruled that the government could pass the state budget as a decree - thus bypassing parliament. Instead, approval would have to be given by this court. On the other hand, under the pressure to which the government was exposed, state price controls appeared to be de facto abolished; the supply situation improved somewhat thanks to the sale of goods in shops at actually illegal black market prices.
Dismissal referendum 2016
As of April 24, 2016, the opposition collected signatures for a recall referendum against the Maduro government. To start the necessary process, 200,000 signatures were required within 30 days. One and a half million people signed within two days. As a next step, 200,000 of the recognized signatures had to be verified by fingerprints. Venezuela's Vice President, Aristobulo Isturiz, noted in May 2016 that there would “never be” such a referendum. According to surveys (autumn 2016), Maduro would have no chance at the urn.
400,000 signatures had been checked and found to be valid by the beginning of August. As the next step, the polling stations would have been open for two days and 20 percent of the voters (4 million Venezuelans) had to vote in favor of a referendum against voting - according to the given deadline until the first half of September 2016. Instead, the electoral commission delayed the appointment in violation of the constitution Out at the end of October. This fulfilled Maduro's goal of avoiding new elections, because with the holding of a referendum after the beginning of 2017, no more new elections were due, but the vice-president would be appointed. A peaceful demonstration with up to a million protesters against this delay on September 1, 2016 was commented by the government with the words that "it failed to intimidate the people and their government". Journalists had been expelled and Maduro spoke of arrested "armed coup plotters". People who had signed the referendum and worked in higher ranks in five ministries were dismissed by decree.
The national electoral council of Venezuela set the date for the referendum to February 2017 and set the (unconstitutional) hurdle that the quorum of 20 percent must be achieved in all states. However, the process was surprisingly stopped by the electoral authority in the week before the second phase: the second collection of signatures should have taken place from October 26th to 28th. 120 people were injured in mass protests on October 26th. The demands of the opposition during talks brokered by the Vatican had included the release of political prisoners. The release of 5 prisoners on the instructions of the President also confirmed the non-functioning of the separation of powers , but the government and opposition recognized the mediation by the Vatican and proposals for de-escalation were made: if necessary, early elections in autumn 2017 could also be considered. The dialogue did little to save Maduro and the opposition interrupted it at the end of the year. Church representatives accused the government of failing to keep promises made.
On January 9, 2017, parliament declared the president deposed in the hope of new elections; The reason for the dismissal was Article 233 of the Constitution, according to which Parliament could determine that the President is not fulfilling his duties or is not performing his office. Also due to the presence of the Supreme Court hand-picked by Maduro, the vote is unlikely to have any impact.
Repeated disempowerment of Parliament from March 2017
On March 29, 2017, the government-loyal Supreme Court lifted the immunity of all parliamentarians, deprived parliament of all powers and transferred it to itself. Two days later, the attorney general had called this practice a breach of the constitution. On April 1, the decision was reversed. It was unclear on whose initiative the court acted. The pressure from international diplomacy to reverse it was correspondingly great. In fact, the Supreme Court had exercised the functions of the legislature, which removed the separation of powers . President Maduro wanted to return to normal without any consequences, the opposition demanded the removal of the judges. OAS Secretary-General Luis Almagro condemned Maduro's authoritarian style of government, while Venezuela's Mercosur membership was suspended in December. However, the powers of attorney that the court had transferred to Maduro at the same time remained in place, so that Maduro has since been able to independently negotiate contracts between the state oil company PDVSA and other companies.
After parliament was ousted at the end of March 2017, there were various demonstrations against Maduro with tens of thousands of participants and several fatal incidents during confrontations with security forces.
As early as mid-May, the opposition had called on the military, which was partly responsible for the violence against demonstrators, for a dialogue. On June 20, the Supreme Court initiated proceedings to remove Prosecutor General Luisa Ortega, the woman who had declared that the same court had come to power at the end of March as unconstitutional.
On May 1, 2017, Maduro announced that he would call a 540-member Constituent Assembly to draw up a new constitution. A month later he stated that the people (contrary to the original announcement) would only be able to vote on the drafted constitution, but not on the process. The constitution stipulates a prior national referendum to convene such an assembly, making Maduro's actions clearly unconstitutional. Parliament or the opposition should be excluded from participation through a sophisticated procedure in the selection of members. With over 364 "territorial deputies", representatives of small rural communities strongly anchored in Chavismus received a disproportionate influence. 168 seats were directly reserved for government-related sectors and eight for representatives of indigenous peoples. There was still no date for the regional elections that had been pending since December 2016 and it turned out that the constitutional reform announced by Maduro would postpone elections. There were also demonstrations against this and by May 6, 2017, a total of 37 people had died in all protests, by June 23 this number had increased to 76 and by the end of July to over 100.
Maduro announced that the constitutional amendment would be enforced, and “if we don't make it with the votes, then with weapons.” At the beginning of July, the parliament was blocked by Chavist paramilitaries, Colectivos , who prevented around 350 people from leaving the building. In the run-up to the constituent assembly elections, a general strike was organized and the opposition held a symbolic anti-Maduro referendum on July 16, in which seven million Venezuelans, i.e. a third of all eligible voters, spoke out against Maduro. The three questions to be answered with yes or no were: “1. Do you want a constituent assembly? 2. Should the army defend the current constitution? 3. Do you support elections before 2019? ”And was thus also a call to the army to be constitutional. 95% of the participants refused to allow the President to convene the Constituent Assembly. Chavist revolutionary militias attacked voters and broke up an election rally, the participants who had fled to a church, like Cardinal Jorge Urosa, were besieged for hours by the pro-government revolutionary militias. The Frente Miliciano de Sucre (FMS) could be identified among the pro-government raiders who shot at the participants . In 2017 there were more than 50 such paramilitary, partly heavily armed revolutionary militias, although according to Articles 324 and 328 ( Constitution of Venezuela of 1999 ) the monopoly of war weapons should lie with the impartial Venezuelan state.
Switzerland called on the Venezuelan government to waive the Constituent Assembly in order to avoid escalation and to respect the separation of powers.
From the formation of the Constituent Assembly in July 2017
Maduro's government stated that it had won the unconstitutional election of the constituent assembly Asamblea Nacional Constituyente on July 30, 2017, because it was decided without a prior referendum , although the result was already certain in advance due to the electoral mode. Two thirds of the seats went to community representatives, regardless of the size of the community, which means that small villages far outvote cities. The remaining third went to eight sectoral organizations controlled by the Chavists. The opposition also described the result as manipulated, since according to official figures 41.5% or more than eight million Venezuelans took part in the vote, while the opposition called 2.5 million. Smartmatic, a Venezuela-based company that had developed the Venezuelan electronic voting system since 2004, said in London that it knew “without a doubt” that “the turnout in the recent election for a constituent assembly was rigged.” Reuters news agency said it had access to internal electoral commission documents showing that only 3.7 million votes had been cast by 5:30 p.m. local time.
Internationally, the voting is largely viewed as not having taken place democratically and the body is not recognized. The Vatican condemned this loyalist gathering in the Catholic country for creating a "climate of tension and conflict". The gathering took its first decision when it unanimously dismissed Attorney General Luisa Ortega Díaz , who was about to start an election fraud investigation. Parliament was still active at this point, but could not advise on laws affecting economics, principles or safety, as this would conflict with the work of the Constituent Assembly. After the UN strongly condemned the government's excessive violence, the Constituent Assembly ordered that protesters should be tried in civil rather than military courts.
The new assembly transferred to itself the competences of all state powers, including the legislature . Although the ordinary parliament was not explicitly declared dissolved, it no longer had any powers after a resolution by the assembly formed by the government on Friday, August 18, 2017. The number of deaths in anti-government protests had risen to 125 in late August. The television stations Caracol and RCN were no longer broadcast and two radio stations had their license withdrawn.
Another military exercise was attributed to the aim of intimidation and the swearing in of loyalty to the government. These exercises had been justified in Venezuela earlier and since Chavez's time with the "threat from the USA". President Maduro also announced that anyone who had doubts should quit the army.
The US still took almost half of Venezuelan oil exports in the summer of 2017, but it made it difficult for the government, which is constantly facing bankruptcy, to raise money. Delays and corruption prevented China's largest creditor from further engagement; it evidently put out feelers in the direction of the opposition. Russia remained as the largest active investor, and in contrast to China, which is only interested in business, it does not want to lose its ally. An article in a respected Russian military magazine promoted the "greatest possible support" of the Venezuelan leadership, even if the possibilities were limited.
In September 2017 rabbits were distributed to the municipalities under the “Rabbit Plan” in order to enable the population to consume meat, which has now become a luxury. According to non-governmental surveys, a third of the boys were malnourished at this point . As it turned out, the recipients kept the animals in the family as cuddly toys. President Maduro then proposed a campaign to teach Venezuelans not to see a rabbit as a cuddly toy, but as two and a half kilos of meat. In November 2017, food was sold in smaller and smaller portions of less than 200 grams due to the daily increasing prices. Four tablespoons of sugar cost 4,000 bolívares, which was two thirds of the minimum daily wage.
In Santo Domingo, talks between the opposition and the government that had been going on for a year and a half began in September 2017 in the presence of representatives from Bolivia, Chile, Mexico and Nicaragua, with the assistance of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero . For every agreement, the opposition called the condition that Parliament regained its powers, everything else was to prevent a real dialogue and mere tactics, and they did not want to participate in a pure show. On February 8, 2018, the talks ended without an agreement.
Before the gubernatorial elections in October 2017 it was clear that their arrested 16 mayors would be missing as promising candidates for the opposition. Henrique Capriles was also not allowed to vote. In seven other states, the MUD was unable to submit candidates for legal reasons. In addition, the government's propaganda made the elections a plebiscite for the Constituent Assembly, so that the opposition was divided on whether the ballot should not be boycotted. It was foreseeable that there would also be many abstentions which would enable the socialists to succeed. There were no controls against multiple votes, polling stations were temporarily moved to Chavist strongholds, where armed militias intimidated the voters. For "reasons of sovereignty", UN observers had been unwanted by the electoral commission for years. Accordingly, the opposition only won 5 states. One of the opposition winners refused to take his oath before the Constituent Assembly and was immediately disempowered. That the other four did it created another crisis within the opposition. In order to benefit from this crisis, the Constituent Assembly decided to bring forward the mayoral elections.
In November 2017, the country faced national bankruptcy (see also: Venezuelan national bankruptcy of 2017 ) and tried to reschedule . The scheduled talks lasted almost 30 minutes and were so confused that speculation arose that the government wanted to drive the value of the bonds down and then buy them back cheaply with the help of foreign lenders. Private investors had bought the cheap bonds in a speculative manner; Venezuelan bonds were the most widely traded paper on the Stuttgart stock exchange at the beginning of the week. Maduro called bankers who would “hide transferred funds” “gangsters” while Delcy Rodriguez claimed the US was planning a military strike against Venezuela.
The Chavists wanted to exclude the parties that boycotted the early mayor / local elections in December 2017 from the 2018 presidential election. The Constituent Assembly drew up a guideline for this.
Several people were killed in mid-January 2018 when the army and insurgents engaged in a gun battle in El Junquito, northwest Caracas. Meanwhile, entrepreneur Lorenzo Mendoza was pressured to run for the 2018 presidential election. The ex-Chavist Henri Falcón, former governor of the state of Lara , stood for election .
According to a report by the High Commissioner for Human Rights in February 2018, 1.3 million people were malnourished by the end of 2017 and five to six children died of malnutrition every week. In the same month, President Maduro ordered another major maneuver, to which one million members of the military, militia and authorities were called, over an alleged threat from Colombia.
The Constituent Assembly served the purpose of disempowering parliament, but the main task of working on a new constitution was hardly heard until May 2018; According to the constitution, this assembly should dissolve after the work is done, and according to their own statements at the swearing in, this would happen after six months, i.e. in January 2018. After Maduro named chairwoman Delcy Rodriguez as his vice-president in June 2018, Diosdado Cabello took the chair.
In the course of 2017, a new police unit, the FAES, allegedly responsible for combating terrorism, was established. In 2019, these security forces acted in the slums to, in the words of a coordinator for the human rights group Provea, “penalize the discontent of the population by installing terror and fear instead of hearing the concerns of the people”. If the poor from these neighborhoods protested, it would "hit like an atom bomb".
Internationally unrecognized presidential election 2018
The presidential election was pushed forward by the Constituent Assembly from late autumn to the end of April and later to May 20. The aim was to expel the opposition, which had to register again after the boycott of the local elections. At the same time, the Supreme Court made this registration impossible by postponing the date of registration from the end of January to a time after the election.
The largest opposition alliance (some of which were leading politicians in prison) had already called for an election boycott in February. The US Vice President called the vote on May 7th as a " sham election " and wanted Maduro to postpone it. Various countries, including the USA and the European Union, had already announced in advance that they would not recognize the elections. Basically, however, Maduro benefited from the self-inflicted crisis; around a quarter of the population backed the president because the view had been propagated for years that one was only in an emergency because of an economic war and a blockade "from outside". One of Maduro's campaign motto was “There is a give and take”, meaning that for the “right” vote in the election you get the state food parcels (“clap”). These food parcels used to serve only the poorest, but in 2018 they were already the main source of food for many. Maduro refused help from abroad because officially there was no famine. In order to increase the number of his followers in events, members of the Khavist militia had to appear in civilian clothes. According to Venezuelans in exile, many, in some cases arbitrary, hurdles were set up for the three million Venezuelans abroad who are voting with their feet , according to some information now four million, to participate in an election. In Germany, 1.7 million new voters were not registered in December 2017 and were prevented from registering.
The voter turnout was officially around 46 percent, possibly even lower in reality, and this despite the requirement that the ID cards for food purchases be stamped at the polling stations in order not to lose the authorization for food parcels. According to official figures, just under 68 percent of the voters (5.8 million) would have voted for Maduro, 21 percent (1.8 million) for Henri Falcón and 11 percent for the evangelical preacher Javier Bertucci , in fact 3 million Venezuelans less had their vote Maduro given than in 2013.
The second-placed, independent candidate, Henri Falcón, had denied any legitimacy to the polls before the results were announced, as many voters had stayed at home. He called for new elections. But he also accused the largest opposition alliance of having contributed significantly to a voter turnout of less than 30% with his call for a boycott and thus ultimately playing into the government's cards. Third-placed Bertucci also called for new elections. Falcón also listed 900 irregularities in the implementation of the election. In particular, it can be assumed that the Socialist Party stands in the immediate vicinity of many polling stations, where the “Carnets de la patria” were stamped, according to the electoral law. The head of the election commission, Tibisay Lucena, partially agreed with the critics, but also said that the complaints were insignificant compared to previous elections.
The oil importer countries Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia congratulated, as did Russia, China and Iran, while the countries of the Lima Group (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Panama , Paraguay, Peru and St. Lucia) announced not to recognize the elections, as did the US and the EU.
In the border area in Colombia, traders in the communities complained that they could hardly make any money because of the thousands of Venezuelans who brought their belongings across the border every day to sell them so they could support their families. Economic data such as inflation and the economy had not been published by the Venezuelan central bank for years.
At the end of July 2018, 35,000 people from Venezuela streamed into the Cúcuta area alone every day , around 4,000 of whom did not return to Venezuela each day. A migration expert from the University of Simón Bolívar in Caracas pointed out that there was a wave of refugees, without a natural disaster or war as the cause. To finance the onward journey, you could sell your hair on site. Many made their way on foot to Bogotá, 550 kilometers away.
Brazil wanted to limit the 800 definitive crossings per day to humanitarian emergencies. During the wave of refugees, the government spread the propaganda that their embassies abroad were inundated with requests to return home, which, however, would not be published in order to “protect the returnees”. Maduro repeatedly spoke of his compatriots being treated badly abroad and called on Venezuelans abroad to “stop cleaning the toilets there” and return home. The much-cited expert Günther Maihold also wrote in the summer of 2018: "The regime in Caracas prohibits aid organizations from supplying the population on their own territory," which the WOZ had already pointed out in spring.
In August 2018, the new minimum wage was set after a devaluation of the Bolívar by 96% in effect to 60 times the old one. The minimum wage had already been increased six times in 2017 and five times in 2018 up to August, then a sixth time in the same year and twice in the first four months of 2019.
Several states in the region feared that the government, in its habit of blaming foreigners for all its abuses, would also accept a military escalation, while the Boliburguesía , the class of the newly rich profiteers of Chavism, continued to enrich itself. A conference of eleven South American states in Quito called on Venezuela on September 4th after two conference days to at least work with them and to allow humanitarian aid . Venezuela reacted "as usual" brusquely with accusations, since such cooperation would mean an admission of the loss of control.
From January 2019, President Maduro was banned from entering 13 states on the American continent. Maduro took the oath of office for his controversial second term not before parliament, but before the highest court, which the opposition considers to be unconstitutional. At that time, the number of people leaving Venezuela every day was reported to be 5,500. An introduced price control for meat meant that the sale was no longer worthwhile.
On January 15, 2019, the National Assembly of Venezuela declared Maduro's re-election illegal and future government decisions null and void. A week later, the President of the National Assembly, Juan Guaidó , declared himself interim President, as provided for in the Constitution, in the event that the President fails to perform his duties. It was recognized on January 23 by Ecuador under its President Lenín Moreno and on January 24 by US President Donald Trump , followed by neighboring countries Colombia and Brazil as well as other OAS states . The German government and the French president also publicly supported Guaidó. Friendly Bolivia and the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for America, Cuba and Nicaragua , which had been able to obtain oil from Venezuela on credit and still did so in the case of Cuba, as well as Russia , which had invested heavily in Venezuela, stood behind the government the Turkey which foods exported to Venezuela and served for Venezuela as a platform for trading in gold. Mexico and another major believer in Venezuela, the People's Republic of China , called for dialogue. According to Amnesty International, 41 people died during the street protests in the four days to January 25, all of them from gunshot wounds, some of which were extralegal executions , according to AI estimates . The public prosecutor, who was deposed in 2017, and Amnesty International had already raised charges of extrajudicial executions for the years 2015 to 2017.
On January 23, 2019, Maduro announced the severance of diplomatic relations with the United States, but only qualified this announcement three days later. The inflow of American dollars, which is vital for the Maduro government and its system of privileges, was now capped by the Trump administration on January 28, 2019 by decreeing that payments for oil purchases no longer go to the oil company PDVSA (and thus to the government), but to blocked accounts would have to be transferred. With appeals to the military, Parliament President Guaidó tried to end its support for the government, but also to deny the government access to Venezuela's foreign assets: In letters to the (non-competent) British Prime Minister Theresa May , he asked the government to access it to withhold the country's gold reserves from the Bank of England , while British conservative politician Crispin Blunt declared that Venezuela's central bank governor had not been legitimately appointed. The sale of gold reserves became one of the government's few sources of foreign currency . By April 2019, 30 tons of gold from the National Bank had probably been sold for foreign exchange procurement. On January 29 , US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave Guaidó permission from the United States to access various accounts in Venezuela at US banks. On the same day, the pro-government Venezuelan Supreme Court banned Guaidó from leaving the country and frozen all of his accounts and assets. Guaidó turned down talks between the government and the opposition offered by Maduro and the governments of Mexico and Uruguay as a mediator.
The Pope had refused to take a position on January 28; but he is suffering and he is afraid of bloodshed. After Maduro asked again for mediation, the latter praised the declared neutrality of the Vatican. However, the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference had declared Maduro's presidency to be illegitimate before it took office and given parliament sole authority and legitimation.
While countries such as Japan, for example, have called for “free and correct presidential elections” to return to democracy, Maduro, on the contrary, declared his consent to “an early election” of the opposition-dominated parliament. EU states issued an ultimatum: a 90-day contact group was formed to announce new elections, to which Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Great Britain and the Netherlands belonged as European countries, while Latin America with Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay and Costa belonged Rica was represented. The group came to Uruguay for the first time on February 7, 2019, with the result that Bolivia did not participate in the declaration calling for new presidential elections. Mexico later withdrew from the mediation group. After their ultimatum for the announcement of a new presidential election had expired, 19 EU states, above all Spain, but also Germany and Austria, declared that they recognized Juan Guaidó as interim president on February 4 and 5, 2019 . Switzerland stuck to its position that it did not recognize governments, but only states, and Italy did not want to support Guaidó, but merely "the desire of the Venezuelan people to get new free and transparent presidential elections as soon as possible". Around 60 countries spoke out in favor of Guaidó by February 5, while Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Russia, Belarus, Iran, China and Turkey had taken a position in favor of Maduro at this point. Four members of parliament from Europe with an invitation from the Venezuelan parliament were refused entry on February 17, 2019.
Maduro threatened Guaidó on February 4 that he could be jailed “on the orders of the Supreme Court”. The state media continued their propaganda campaign against Guaidó and a politician of the ruling party declared supporters of Guaidó to be enemies of the people if they provoked a foreign military intervention.
Observers such as the Venezuelan constitutional lawyer Luis Salamanca suspected at the beginning of February 2019 that time was running against Guaidó. Conversely, there was an opinion in Russia that time was running against Maduro. A Russian delegation was shocked by the conditions in the country in November 2018. Analysts in Moscow suspected that talks with the opposition were also taking place in the background, as China had openly confirmed. Conversely, the USA later had contacts with the Maduros government.
In the past, negotiations, which parts of the opposition had responded to, only saved Maduro time. Guaidó therefore emphasized that any dialogue would only begin with Maduro's withdrawal from the presidential palace. From the ranks of the bishops' conference it was said that one could not negotiate with Maduro, who completely negated reality. In an interview, Cardinal Baltazar Porras stated that the Vatican mediator had also been brought before Maduro in the past. On the part of the church, conditions for willingness to enter into dialogue have long included humanitarian aid and the return of all powers to parliament. Porras' statement "This regime is illegitimate" is moral and not constitutionally justified.
There was unanimous agreement that the military would be decisive for further development, the leaders of which had long been granted privileges by the Chavists. Many middle cadres, possibly disloyal, had been arrested in 2018. The army had been controlling supplies to the country for years. In addition, the members of the national guard and the Chavist paramilitaries (colectivos) were armed, who no longer spread the Bolivarian revolution with cultural engagement but with their weapons and terrorized the population. However, some of them were officially assigned police duties. According to the Venezuelan international law professor Pedro Afonso del Pino, these colectivos would be “one of the challenges” in the event of a change of government. A coordinator of the Bolivarian Front for Socialist Defense denied that the colectivos were paid and armed by the government, which left the open question of hierarchical classification unanswered. The United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet warned: “The use of paramilitary forces and parallel police in the region has a long history. It is very worrying that they are operating so openly in Venezuela. The government can and must stop them because these groups are exacerbating an already explosive situation. ”In 2020 the bishops wrote that the guerrillas spread“ horror among the people, tolerated and encouraged by the military and the authorities ”.
"Provocations" is what President Maduro called the provision of relief supplies on the borders of Venezuela by Guaidó's supporters, through which Guaidó was able to challenge the loyalty of the army. The army and colectivos held out despite popular protests at the closed land and sea borders in the interests of the government. On the Brazilian border near Santa Elena de Uairén, armed gangs of government supporters and the National Guard dispersed opposition supporters and, according to local authorities, the army had opened fire on protesting indigenous people from Gran Sabana "for the first time in living memory" . The violence continued over the following days. Opposition sources said seven people were killed by the colectivos on February 23 and at least 300 were injured. President Maduro, who had consistently denied the existence of a crisis, had recently spoken of aid for the first time and in April 2019 Venezuela was officially "ready" to accept aid deliveries, even though there was "no humanitarian crisis". Peter Maurer spoke to ICRC diplomacy of "concern about the serious impact of the situation especially on Venezuelans without access to basic services," while UN sources said one fifth of all children under 5 years of age were chronically malnourished. After these events, the border with Colombia was closed by Venezuela until June 2019, the one with Brazil reopened a month earlier.
The distribution of food to its followers serves the government as a means of social control.
Guaido visited South American presidents in Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Ecuador the week after the failed aid shipments. Ecuador, whose president spoke out in favor of “profound changes” in Venezuela, was one of the countries that at that time had accredited a new Venezuelan ambassador to represent Guaidó.
Meanwhile, President Maduro set himself the goal of winning another million militias in 2019, who defended their homeland “with guns on their shoulder” and “produced the food for the community” in the fields. The regular desecration of cemeteries was for some a symbol of a country without law.
After Guaidó called for the largest demonstration against the government on May 1, 2019 in April, he apparently improvised in a video address in front of uniformed men in the early morning of April 30, 2019, calling for the overthrow of President Maduro. Leopoldo López , who has been imprisoned since 2014, was previously released by the security forces. From morning on, demonstrators and government security forces in Caracas clashed. Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez announced that the Maduro government would confront and neutralize the military's "small group of traitors". After the breakaway soldiers initially failed to respond to tear gas bombardment, shots were fired later. The escalation feared by everyone did not materialize, however, and the protests that continued over the following days only killed a fraction of the people who had already been killed in protests in 2019. Social media was banned by the government, as it had been when Guaidó distributed news, and on the same day the TV reception of the news channels CNN and BBC was shut down. The human rights organization Provea counted demonstrations in 65 cities in 23 states. There were injuries in Caracas and La Victoria . On May 1, tens of thousands of protesters against Maduro took to the streets again.
The head of the secret service Sebin left Venezuela and complained in an open letter about the corruption and that the current generation of children was irreversibly damaged by malnutrition ; "You cannot live in misery in such a rich country".
After persistent but tiring protests and simultaneous persecution of members of parliament by the judiciary instrumentalized by the government, an attempt to mediate with separate talks between Venezuelan government representatives and members of the opposition with Norwegian diplomats was made from mid-May; these talks were broken off at the end of May without result. The government's techniques for sabotaging social networks were noticeably refined. A working group should be formed after talks in Barbados in July 2019 in order to maintain the dialogue. The announced contacts never took place because the government website never appeared for 6 weeks, whereupon Guaido declared the whole thing over in mid-September.
When counting people who fled Venezuela, different numbers up to five million were given, which was due to the unclear beginning of the count. In the previous seven months up to June 2019 alone, a million people fled. The Venezuelans were among the largest refugee groups in the world.
Also in the summer, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet complained about a system of government-loyal death squads and extrajudicial executions ; the UN report spoke of 5,287 killings in 2018 of people who "evaded arrest" in the language of the authorities. The report also spoke of 3.7 million malnourished Venezuelans. The report found that it was a strategy of the Maduro government to "neutralize, suppress and criminalize" opposition activists. (The report ... said the killings were part of a strategy by the government of President Nicolas Maduro aimed at "neutralizing, repressing and criminalizing political opponents and people critical of the government".)
Diosdado Cabello announced in mid-August 2019 that a “parliamentary election commission” of the constituent assembly could come to the conclusion during its deliberations that the national assembly, the elected parliament, no longer exists and would therefore have to be re-elected in the same year. Instead of implementing this ruse, Maduro's representatives began to participate again in the sessions of the elected parliament from September 2019, which they had left for two years. According to the Times , this move has been seen as bringing the last democratic institution in the country under government control.
On January 5, 2020, opposition MPs were prevented by security forces from entering the parliament building, where MPs from Maduro's Socialist Party and excluded members of the opposition alliance elected Luis Parra as the new parliamentary president in a government “forced vote” . Parra was accused of having tried to win other parliamentarians for Maduro with large bribes . Around 100 opposition MPs then met outside parliament in the El Nacional newspaper building, according to the information provided by the Swiss radio correspondent, and elected Juan Guaidó as parliamentary president for another year. Latin American states, the EU and the USA condemned the events of that day in parliament as illegitimate. The Catholic bishops describe the incident as a violent "run over" of the National Assembly by the "totalitarian and inhumane" regime and called for the abdication of Maduro, who held "power in the state in an illegitimate way".
With the intention to attract investors and generate foreign exchange, the government Maduro raised by the April 8, 2020 Official Journal Gaceta Oficial part of the policies applied in the Orinoco basin published Decree 6526 nature conservation legislation on. Six previously protected rivers and their banks in 111,000 km 2 large Arco Minero del Orinoco (mining zone of Orinocobeckens) were the gold and diamond mining Released: namely the rivers Caura , Cuchivero, Aro, Yuruarí, Cuyuni and Caroní . This threatens the habitat of nine indigenous peoples : the E'ñepa , the Jodi, the Ye'kuana , the Sanema, the Kariña, the Arawak , the Pemón , the Jivi and the Akawaio . The Maduro government hopes that mining in the former nature reserve will generate revenues of 33 billion euros.
After the failed landing in Macuto Bay on May 3, in which, according to various sources, eight attackers were killed and 13 to 15 attackers, including two US citizens , were arrested, President Maduro mobilized more than 25,000 soldiers to look for fighters to search inland. The opposition accuses Maduro's allies of fabricating the attack. On May 9, the Venezuelan government announced that an additional 34 people had been arrested in connection with the alleged invasion. In July 2020, following a ruling by the High Court of Justice , the Bank of England refused to hand over Venezuelan gold reserves worth € 890 million to the government, which had requested it to alleviate the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic in Venezuela as the British government recognizes Juan Guaidó as interim president, who in turn claims the gold reserves for his opposing government. The Maduro government's lawyers announced that they would appeal.
Form of government
The form of government in Venezuela has been a form of presidential democracy since 1999 with strong direct democratic elements, a complicated separation of powers between the five powers of legislature , executive , judiciary , civil power (Art. 273-291) and electoral power (Art. 292-298) as well as numerous elections at different levels Levels. Venezuela's new constitution forbids the privatization of the oil industry and the social security systems, provides free public education and measures to reactivate large unused landed property, but also respects private property, including private ownership of the means of production. State and society were restructured through plebiscite acts: in the presidential elections in December 1998, Hugo Chávez had 56 percent of the vote , in April 1999 88 percent of voters voted for the convening of a constituent assembly, and in December of the same year 71 percent for the new one Constitution of the state now known as the "Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela".
In the “ Bolivarian Constitution ”, with which the “ Bolivarian Revolution ” was to be implemented, the separation of powers is expanded through direct democratic participation options: Both the MPs and the President (6-year term of office) can be voted out of office by referendum from the middle of their term of office ( Art. 72). The president is the head of state and the head of government . Last incumbent from February 2, 1999 until his death on March 5, 2013 was Hugo Chávez. From 2007 to 2008, Jorge Rodríguez , former President of the CNE (Election Authority of Venezuela), was vice-president and thus deputy head of state and government ; Ramón Carrizales held this position from 2008 to 2010 , followed by Elías Jaua from 2010 to 2012 . On October 10, 2012 , Nicolás Maduro , who had been Foreign Minister until then, was appointed to the position of Vice-President, whom Hugo Chávez appointed as his successor before his death and who took over the office until the office was replaced.
houses of Parliament
The parliament is the National Assembly (Asamblea Nacional) with a unicameral system with a five-year legislative period . It has 165 seats, of which the left-wing PSUV and the Venezuelan Communist Party held 98 seats in 2010. The parties of the opposition alliance Mesa de la Unidad Democrática - u. a. Un Nuevo Tiempo , Acción Democrática , Copei , Primero Justicia - 65, the opposition left-wing party Patria Para Todos (PPT) 2 seats. Due to the current electoral law, the seats are not distributed proportionally to the votes. The governing parties' share of the vote in the 2010 elections was 48%, but their share of seats was 59.4%. Before these elections, the governing parties held all the seats because the opposition had boycotted the elections. In the 2015 elections, the opposition and the MUD alliance won around two thirds of the seats in parliament, ending the 17-year hegemony of the PSUV.
The national municipal parliament was activated to obstruct the newly elected parliament, and legal scholars do not agree on its constitutionality and competence. After the president swore in three members of the opposition, despite objections from the government, the government-loyal Supreme Court, which had never ruled against the government in 9 years and 40,000 cases, declared all parliamentary decisions invalid. The three then resigned from their posts in order to enable parliament to act again, although the opposition lost its two-thirds majority. Maduro also lifted the central bank's obligation to provide information to parliament, while it became increasingly difficult for companies to get rationed foreign exchange in order to continue their production. The Maduro government resorted to emergency ordinances to bypass parliament.
In December 2016, the Supreme Court declared an initiative by parliament unconstitutional, which based on almost 2 million signatures of the population, ten times the value provided for in the constitution, had demanded that Maduro be impeached.
The parliament was then disempowered by the Maduro government through the unconstitutional formation of a constituent assembly and at the same time deprived of all resources. When this body was announced, the president spoke of a new constitution by December 2017, but even until May 2019 there were no results and the parliament remained disempowered: in 2018, the country was unanimously attested to slipping into a dictatorship .
In a September 2008 report on Chavez's government work, the human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused him of harming democratic institutions and human rights. His government is politically intolerant and discriminatory and despises the principle of the separation of powers. The situation had worsened in April 2002 after the failed coup attempt by a civil-military alliance against Chavez, who had ruled since February 1999. The HRW report complains, among other things, that the number of judges at the Supreme Court in Caracas has been increased from 20 to 32, which has eliminated the independence of the court. Since then, the Supreme Court has only decided in the interests of the government. Human Rights Watch's Latin America chief has been expelled from Venezuela. The chairwoman of the opinion research institute Latinobarómetro, however, emphasized that in Venezuela satisfaction with democracy has increased in recent years.
According to Amnesty International , "attacks, harassment and intimidation by government critics, including journalists and human rights defenders [...] were widespread in Venezuela before 2010." regularly "attacked, intimidated and threatened by the security forces [...]." Journalists who want to exercise their right to freedom of expression are also threatened . In 2009 alone, at least 34 radio stations had their broadcasting licenses revoked. Based on statements by members of the government, Amnesty International assumed that the closure was due to the editorial stance of the respective broadcasters. In addition, there were violent attacks on the offices of the anti-government broadcaster Globovisión , for the investigation of which the state was not aware of any efforts.
According to Amnesty International, among those arrested in 2010 were Richard Blanco (member of the opposition party Alianza Bravo Pueblo), Wilmer Azuaje (member of the opposition), the judge María Lourdes Afiuni, Oswaldo Álvárez Paz (former governor of the state of Zulia State), Guillermo Azuaje Zuloaje TV )
During Hugo Chávez's term of office, general crime and violence, which was already at a comparatively high level before his term in office, continued to rise sharply.
The concentration of power and repression increased under the Maduro government. Human Rights Watch spoke of 600 political prisoners by 2017 and charged the security forces with torture. According to UNHCR, 27 of 124 deaths in connection with the demonstrations were killed by pro-government militias and the security forces killed at least 46 other people. Amnesty International estimates that more than 4,000 people were killed by security forces in 2016 under the pretext of fighting crime, in circumstances that often resembled extrajudicial executions . The International Committee of the Red Cross placed a focus on training and sensitizing security forces to respect human rights. After an interruption of seven years, the ICRC was able to visit prisoners again in April 2019, including people in military prisons who were considered political prisoners. According to the human rights organization Foro Penal, there were around 900 political prisoners in prisons in 2019.
Food and health care was not guaranteed. In autumn 2017, Deutschlandfunk reported that hunger was being used as a weapon of favoritism and repression. When the Sakharov Prize was awarded to the opposition in autumn 2017, the reason was that the disempowered parliament was the “only democratically elected” assembly.
The current Minister of Defense is Vladimir Padrino López . The Venezuelan armed forces ( Fuerza Armada Nacional Bolivariana , FANB ) comprised 85,000 soldiers in 2006, and later over 300,000 soldiers. The defense budget in 2006 was around 1.2% of GDP . However, a large part of military spending is handled through FONDEN, the Fund for Endogenous Development. Part of the military are the National Guard with its around 35,000 members and the militia , which was formalized in 2009 and is a “political army”, which was to be expanded to no fewer than 500,000 militia officers in 2017 despite limited funds and a national supply crisis to protect the country from “fascist attacks " to protect. Part of this concept are also local defense committees, which should perfect an alliance of "patriotic soldiers with revolutionary civilians".
Over the years the military has become more and more involved in the economy. President Maduro ordered the founding of his own bank (BanFanb), an international logistics company (Emiltra) and a construction and agricultural company from 2013, which was criticized by a former defense minister. The number of generals in Venezuela increased from 50 in 1993 to around 4,000 in 2016.
In addition to the regular armed forces, President Chavez also armed so-called colectivos , paramilitary groups. The distinction between colectivos and militias is not always clear. Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino , however, demanded the disarming of the existing militias, which were held responsible for the killing of demonstrators. Not only the number and strength of the colectivos is unclear, but also their actual task and hierarchical classification.
Venezuela's military doctrine is a territorial defense that is based on the presence of a far stronger enemy and is characterized by the belief that a strong military power cannot be broken by conventional forces. Venezuela sees itself threatened by an alleged "encirclement" of the country with US military bases . The Cuban trainers in the army are also responsible for this point of view; opposition politicians such as María Corina Machado described their presence as "unacceptable".
The military has great economic and political power.
The loyalty of the army to the Chavist government was based on political cleansing in Chavez's time, as well as privileges, economic advantages and the control of smuggling, i.e. through participation in corruption .
In the supply crisis from 2015, the military was also used to distribute economic goods. In July 2016, the announcement that the government and the army would take full control of supplies to the country was interpreted as a silent army coup. In 2017, the Venezuelan Bishop Mario Moronta reminded the military of their vows to defend the people and democracy and called on the military to switch sides: "We urge the security forces to repent and take the side of human rights." According to the Colombian authorities, around one thousand members of the various security forces had crossed the border within a month by mid-March 2019 and deposited their weapons.
At the beginning of 2019, not only was the Ministry of Defense not led civilly, but the Ministry of the Oil Industry, the Ministry of Energy, Agriculture and Mining, the Food and Housing Departments and the Ministry of the Interior were also led by generals.
According to reports from the British Guardian , in 2006 Venezuela aimed to build the largest reserve on the Latin American continent. The US imposed an arms embargo in 2006. For the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, the country was already considered “very unstable” in 2000, which is why exports of war material were severely restricted because of a “considerable and worrying” risk of escalation.
The country was armed by Russia ; 54 combat aircraft and helicopters, including the Sukhoi Su-30 MK2, were delivered, and Russia trained 196 Venezuelan air force pilots. The United States viewed the arms business as excessive as a defense measure.
The Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport had already signed a contract for the delivery of 100,000 AK-103 assault rifles to Venezuela in the spring of 2005 . A new factory for these weapons has been set up and should be completed in 2019. In summer 2006, Venezuela signed a contract for the supply of 53 helicopters (the type Mil Mi-17 W5, Mil Mi-35 and Mil Mi-26 ) for the armed forces and the National Guard, this should nine submarines of type 636 worth of 640 million euros can be delivered. From the end of 2009 to 300 armored vehicles including by 2012 a first series of 92 were delivered, battle tanks of type T-72 .
According to the Russian Center for Analysis of Arms Trade, Venezuela ranked eighth in 2011 among the countries that imported arms, after the US and ahead of Turkey and Pakistan. For 2013, the national government has earmarked 26.47 billion bolívares for the Ministry of Defense, ten times more than the total for the police and the Ministry of Justice.
According to Russian figures, between 2005 and 2013 $ 11 billion was spent on armaments projects. As of 2012, Venezuela owed Russia $ 7.2 billion for arms purchases. These are mainly tanks, helicopters, planes, missiles and Smertch missile launchers . In 2016, Russia extended the repayment of $ 2.8 billion by three years. At the start of the “biggest maneuver in Venezuela's history” in February 2019, President Maduro affirmed that he wanted to buy more weapons.
The aim of the foreign policy of the current government is to achieve a united and socialist Latin America within the framework of the Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de nuestra América ( ALBA ; Spanish for Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America ). The government sees itself in a leadership role in Latin America. In August 2017, 17 American governments distanced themselves from the feared establishment of a dictatorship. Instead, Peru supported refugees from Venezuela with settlement and work permits. Venezuela, meanwhile, sought the support of Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cuba and Ecuador. Except for Ecuador, these countries were dependent on cheaper oil imports from Venezuela.
An expression of this guiding principle is, for example, the conclusion of the trade treaty between Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia , while at the same time free trade agreements with the USA, which Colombia and Peru had already concluded, were sharply criticized. As part of the controversy surrounding these free trade agreements, Venezuela also withdrew from the Andean Community , to which it belonged together with Peru, Ecuador , Bolivia and Colombia. Venezuela's relationship with the USA and Latin American states with USA-friendly governments - especially Mexico , Peru and Colombia - is considered difficult.
In its striving for independence from the USA, Venezuela is in close economic and political relations and a. joined the People's Republic of China and Iran . However, the US remained the main trading partner and largest buyer of Venezuelan oil until 2017. Even in 2019, Venezuela's oil yield was certainly 40 percent in the USA.
In terms of foreign policy, Venezuela tries to provide economic support to the other poorer Latin American countries, for example in building infrastructure in Nicaragua , Cuba and Dominica , or by helping Ecuador and Argentina to pay their due foreign debts .
During the Venezuelan crisis, the European Union imposed an arms embargo on November 13, 2017 and sanctions against members of the government for human rights violations in January 2018, which were followed by sanctions against such persons by Switzerland in April 2018. On February 8, 2018, the International Criminal Court opened an investigation into the attacks by the state security forces since April 2017.
At the end of January 2018, Venezuela expelled Spain's ambassador after four years of ongoing dispute with Spain. Spain responded a day later by expelling the Venezuelan ambassador. Germany's ambassador Daniel Kriener was expelled at the beginning of March 2019, apparently because, at the request of Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas , he had picked up the President of the National Assembly Juan Guaidó at the airport after a stay abroad in order to prevent his arrest.
International political relations
Venezuela is a member of the United Nations and its sub-organizations, the Latin American Economic System (SELA), OPEC , G15 , G20 of the developing countries , G33 and G77 , the Amazon Pact , the South American Union and a founding member of ALBA and CELAC .
The US $ 3 billion debt to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund from 1998 was repaid on April 12, 2007. On April 30, 2007, President Hugo Chávez announced the withdrawal of his country from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as these institutions were "mechanisms of imperialism". Nevertheless, Venezuela remained a member of both organizations.
Relations with Israel, traditionally good since 1948, were completely broken off on January 9, 2009 by Hugo Chávez.
Entry into the Mercosur economic region began in 2012 . In September 2016, Brazil threatened the temporary exclusion of Venezuela, even before full integration, if it did not meet more than a third of the conditions it was obliged to meet by early 2017. Venezuela was excluded from Mercosur at the beginning of December 2016.
After the Organization of American States (OAS) recognized the representative of the Speaker of Parliament as another representative of Venezuela to the OAS on April 9, 2019, the government announced the resignation on April 27, 2019. In the meantime, many states on the American double continent no longer recognized the representatives of the Maduro government, but the representatives of the Speaker of Parliament as representatives of Venezuela; In November, El Salvador followed the 50 countries around the world that recognized Guaidó and expelled the diplomats from the Maduro government, which then expelled all of El Salvador's diplomats from Venezuela.
Petrocaribe Oil Community
The Petrocaribe project was founded with numerous countries in the Caribbean , through which the member states received oil at a reduced price thanks to delivery conditions based on credit. Of the around 3 million barrels of oil extracted daily in Venezuela in 2008, around 180,000 were used for the PetroCaribe Association, at its peak in 2012 even 200,000 barrels. Payment was not always in the form of money. For example, Cuba sent thousands of doctors and other medical staff, teachers, sports coaches and government advisors in return.
In the USA, the "CITGO-Venezuelan Heating Oil Program" was created in 2005 together with the NGO Citizens Energy Corporation of Kennedy's son Joseph Patrick Kennedy to support the poorer part of the US population to avoid oil supply failures after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and to compensate for cuts in the government's Federal Heating Oil Assistance Program.
On the basis of an agreement with the then London Mayor Ken Livingstone, Venezuela subsidized ÖVM tickets for low-income Londoners from August 2007 , in return English technicians supported the development and improvement of local public transport in Venezuela.
Relationship with the USA
Venezuela's oil economy, which was largely built up by US companies, enabled the country to experience an unprecedented boom in the 1960s and 1970s. The many US citizens in Venezuela made the American way of life known, Venezuela supported the US in the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, and Venezuela became a major buyer of US consumer goods. The US bought the majority of Venezuela's oil.
Venezuela remained one of the three largest oil suppliers to the USA and at the same time one of the most important importers. There are close economic ties between the two countries, even after the US imposed an arms embargo on the country in 2006 for failing to implement counter-terrorism measures .
The relationship did not change fundamentally from 1998, even under the Chavez government. The United States immediately congratulated Chavez, and the President-elect met briefly with Bill Clinton in the White House in January 1999 . It was not helpful that, on the one hand, Bill Clinton had not invited Chavez as the incumbent president on a state visit until 2001, and on the other hand, the DEA had to suspend flights to investigate drug trafficking in Venezuela. Until 2002 there was a liaison office with US military personnel in the Venezuelan military headquarters. Ed. Hanna S. Kassab, Jonathan D. Rosen: The Obama Doctrine in the Americas - Security in the Americas in the Twenty-First Century , Lexington Books, 2016, ISBN 978-1-4985-2400-1 , page 219, footnote 23 Die a big change came in 2002 with the coup against Chavez , which Chavez was later convinced that the United States was behind it. Trade between the countries remained unchanged.
Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch Ávila were also staying in the USA , alleged commissioners of a terrorist attack on a Cuban passenger plane in the Caribbean, both of which had been acquitted in Venezuela in 1987, but from 2005 onwards they served hostile rhetoric. The US accused Venezuela of supporting the Colombian FARC . For example, during the commando operation against FARC Vice Raúl Reyes in 2008 , the Colombian military seized four computers that were supposed to prove that Chávez had delivered weapons and cash worth around 300 million US dollars to the FARC. In September 2008, Venezuela's government expelled the US ambassador from the country, among other things on charges of meddling in the conflict in Bolivia, and broke off diplomatic relations. Under the administration of US President Barack Obama , the two heads of government met at the America summit in April 2009, and a resumption of diplomatic relations was agreed, which is increasingly due to "the regime's need for a scapegoat " for its own difficult economic situation was not really successful. As early as 2010, Venezuela refused accreditation to the aspiring US ambassador because he had "insulted the entire Venezuelan democracy" by accusing Venezuela of providing shelter to the FARC, according to the President of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee.
On July 6, 2013, Maduro offered the US citizen Edward Snowden asylum "for humanitarian reasons," according to his own words , in keeping with an increasingly intense anti-American rhetoric, which Maduro relied on due to the increasingly audible opposition and the decline in economic performance.
In 2014, 62 percent of Venezuelans had a positive opinion of the United States, although Hugo Chavez had already described President Bush as the devil in 2006, whose sulfuric smell lingered on the UN lectern a day after his speech. In December 2014, the US Congress laid the foundations for sanctions against those responsible for violence against freedom of expression and assembly in February 2014. By the end of the Obama presidency, the assets of seven people working in security services in Venezuela were frozen. It was only after May 2017 to spring 2019 that this number rose to eighty.
At the end of 2016, a few days after Rosneft approached Citgo, the Venezuelan refinery company Citgo donated $ 500,000 for the budget for the inauguration of the new US President Trump. The Venezuela-controlled American refinery company had never before donated to the inauguration ceremonies of US presidents.
The US government denied legitimacy to the constituent assembly called in spring 2017 and imposed sanctions on Nicolás Maduro. On August 11, 2017, US President Donald Trump announced that he was also considering military options. On August 25, 2017, the US President imposed a ban on trading certain bonds issued by the Venezuelan state and the PDVSA .
On January 23, 2019, Maduro broke off diplomatic relations with the US and announced a deadline within which all US diplomats would have to leave the country. This was relativized by the Maduro government on January 26th, but repeated in March. The embassy recommended that all US citizens leave the country and withdrew their staff completely by March 14, 2019. The Switzerland took over from 5 April consular activities of the United States in Venezuela as part of a so-called Protecting Power mandate .
According to an opinion poll in March 2019, 88.5 percent of those surveyed said that a good relationship with the US was important for overcoming the crisis and for a better future for the country.
On March 26, Maduro, along with a number of other senior state officials, was formally indicted in a New York court on charges of government-organized drug smuggling , narco-terrorism and corruption , among other things . At the same time, the US State Department offered a reward of 15 million US dollars for pertinent information that led to the arrest of Maduro. On April 2, the United States dispatched several warships off the coast of Venezuela. The goal is to stop illegal (state-sponsored) drug smuggling from the country to the United States, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo . This also happened shortly after an incident off La Tortuga , when a Venezuelan warship shot at and rammed the civilian cruise ship RCGS Resolute and then sank itself.
Relationship with Cuba
Fidel Castro flew to Venezuela on January 1, 1959 to ask Rómulo Betancourt for a loan of $ 300 million and oil in the fight against the gringos . The rejection earned Betancourt a top spot on Castro's list of enemies. The fact that Cuba tried to export the revolution is undisputed. Guerrillas landed in Venezuela in 1967 from their training camps in Cuba.
Diplomatic relations between Cuba and Venezuela were interrupted until 1974 as Cuba supported the guerrillas in Venezuela. After relations were resumed, the attack on Cubana Flight 455 in 1976 clouded relations. The heroes' reception by Fidel Castro in 1994 for the putschist Hugo Chavez, who was released from prison, was just as ineffective. Hugo Chavez, who either called Fidel Castro “brother” or used a “father-son” rhetoric, permitted by his transfiguration of the Cuban system (“Cuba is the sea of happiness. That is where Venezuela goes”) after his election in 1999 and a cooperation agreement in October 2000 increased the influence of Havana through the presence of not only Cuban doctors and teachers suspected of indoctrination, but also secret service employees in the presidential palace and Cuban soldiers on military bases. The apparently democratic local councils were influenced by Cuban emissaries. All these Cuban services were paid for by Venezuela and settled by the delivery of petroleum, after 2002 around 52,000 barrels per day, later over 90,000. This meant a subsidy in favor of Cuba of 35 billion dollars within 15 years.
In the attempted coup in 2002, support from Cuba played an important role in keeping the Chavists in power. Immediately afterwards, the top ranks of analysts in Chavez's command room sala situacional , who had not seen the coup coming, were occupied by Cuban specialists. As early as 2003, the media in the country warned of the "Cuban invasion",
In 2004, the ALBA Declaration was published while Cuban officials rejoiced that Cuba now had two presidents and two flags - it wasn't just Hugo Chavez's vision of achieving complete unification of the two states, or at least one federation.
Despite its economic leverage, Venezuela played no role in Cuban domestic politics, in stark contrast to the Cuban influence in Venezuela in consolidating the power of the Chavists through institution building.
Venezuela was Cuba's most important trading partner in 2010 (ahead of China), while around 44,000 Cubans worked in Venezuela in 2011 and another, unknown number in the security services. Other Cubans were paid by Venezuela to work in Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and small Caribbean states. All Cubans are monitored by their security agents, contact with the local population is undesirable. Above all, critics saw in the cooperation a tendency to transform Venezuela into an authoritarian regime based on the Cuban model. This included nationalization and state interventionism in the economy.
Cuban military advisers sit at all the switching points of power, not only in the military and the secret service, but also with authorities, obviously also in sensitive areas such as notaries, residents' registration and the issuing of identity papers. According to Hellinger, the Venezuelan and Cuban governments deny what STRATFOR also stated; that Cuban advisors have taken over important security functions or policy areas ("deny that Cuban advisors have taken over important security functions or policy areas"). According to Strønen, the Cubans' presence also has part of its origins in Chavez's attempt to circumvent his own corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy in setting up aid programs.
Not only the strategies of the KGB and the Stasi came to Venezuela with the Cubans, but also their propaganda. The ubiquitous "Eyes" of Chavez were another campaign that was "undoubtedly" devised by Cuban propaganda; officially attached to affirm “solidarity with those who suffer” in 2012, they were at the same time a threat: the regime sees everything. Like the Cubans, the Venezuelans are also susceptible to the Santería , pagan rituals with a particular aptitude for propaganda.
According to an opinion poll in March 2019, only 0.7 percent of those questioned found a good relationship with Cuba to be important for overcoming the crisis and for a better future for the country. At the same time, 100,000 barrels of oil were still brought to Cuba every day, around 40 percent of which was sold at world market prices.
Border conflict with Guyana
Venezuela claims the entire area west of the Essequibo , which is controlled by Guyana . An arbitration award made in 1899 by an international mediation commission, which was then accepted by Venezuela, determined today's boundaries. In the 1960s, information emerged that, in Venezuela’s view, proved the bias of the Mediation Commission at the time, whereupon Venezuela has since renewed its claims to the demarcation of the Essequibo.
In 2004 the Venezuelan government passed the “Law on Technology and Information”, which obliges all public institutions to convert their computers to free software if suitable products exist. In 2008, the National Center for Information Technology (CNTI) reported decisive progress in converting to free software: more than a third of all mayor's offices have now converted their computers to run with free software, and a number of collaborations between newly founded IT have been possible -Companies and public institutions as well as self-governing communities are mediated. In addition, 500 trainers in 400 municipalities started their work in 2008 to enable employees of public administrations and companies as well as the general public to work with free software. A central project of the CNTI is the development of the Canaima GNU / Linux operating system , a Venezuelan Debian -based Linux distribution. The nationalized telephone provider CANTV also wants to switch to free software, and the state oil company PDVSA wants to set up its own software company in cooperation with Cuba. A free software academy was established in Caracas and Mérida , and two more academies are due to open in 2009 in the states of Falcón and Trujillo.
For the first five years of the 21st century, Venezuela was among the ten countries with the highest rate of deforestation on the planet. The reforestation program Misión Árbol , which was started in 2006, allowed 42 million trees to be reforested on 34,000 hectares of land by 2010.
In recent years, oil spills have been a constant occurrence in sensitive regions, as a result of which the state oil company PDVSA has been criticized by the opposition.
Pollution in the Lake Valencia area has increased in recent years, making tap water highly contaminated in a region of over 2 million people.
From the beginning of oil production, Venezuela's economic system was characterized by a typical rent-based economy , as can also be observed in other resource-rich countries. Thanks to the boom, the gross domestic product per capita had increased to half that of the USA by 1957. After that, development stagnated and Venezuela reached 15 percent of the comparable figure in the USA in 1998. President Hugo Chávez, who died in March 2013, took office in 1998 to reduce this dependency, among other things, but it actually increased during his term of office and the economy was almost completely dependent on Venezuela's main raw material, oil. In 2014, 96 percent of government revenue came from the oil business.
In January 2016, the Maduro government declared an “economic emergency”. A decree gave the president 60 days to take measures to support the economy. Economic output fell by 4.5 percent in the first nine months of 2015, while inflation climbed to 141.5 percent, which was already the highest rate of inflation in the world at that time . Inflation continued to rise dramatically, reaching over 1,000,000 percent at the end of 2018 and several million percent forecast for 2019. It is no longer worthwhile to calculate inflation, said an economist in Caracas in autumn 2018, while Steve H. Hanke calculated a much lower figure.
Overall, Venezuela's economic output fell by a third from 2013 to 2017. The Chavists reduced the essential imports by 75 percent within 5 years. The unemployment rate was 26.4% in 2017.
In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Venezuela ranked 130th out of 138 countries in 2016 (as of 2016). In 2017, the country ranks 179th out of 180 countries in the index for economic freedom .
As of summer 2018, the country's most important source of finance was no longer oil exports, but remittances from Venezuelans who had fled abroad to their families.
As early as 2005, crude oil secured four fifths of export earnings, half of state revenues and 25 percent of national product. The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources estimated the oil resources for 2015 at 65,320 million tons. Venezuela thus takes the top spot.
Critics accuse the state and the state oil production company PDVSA of insufficient maintenance investments in the oil production facilities. In 1997 Venezuela was producing 3.3 million barrels of oil per day. According to state data, the daily oil production in 2008 was 3.4 million barrels per day. Publications by the Organization of the Oil Producing Countries OPEC , of which Venezuela is a member, put this at only 2.33 million. In the first half of 2010, according to the PDVSA report, the daily output was only 2.45 million barrels, the lowest value since 2003. Of these, 600,000 barrels were consumed in Venezuela itself, 300,000 barrels went to Petrocaribe member states on preferential terms . Another 300,000 barrels a day went to China for swap transactions for loan repayments. As a result, only around 1.25 million barrels were available for sale at world market prices. The oil price, which has been falling sharply since the end of 2014, made Venezuela's budget increasingly difficult. It fell from around $ 100 per barrel in 2014 to below 35 dollars a barrel at the beginning of 2016. In 2014, Deutsche Bank estimated that Venezuela would need an oil price of $ 162 for a balanced state budget and Credit Suisse went from a price of $ 97 per barrel Barrel at which Venezuela is still able to service its liabilities. An end to the low oil price was not in sight in 2015 due to the global oversupply. The price recovered somewhat, but production fell to an estimated 700,000 barrels per day by the International Energy Agency by August 2018, a third of the amount two and a half years earlier. According to the production statistics that Petróleos de Venezuela submitted to OPEC in early 2020, the average daily production fell from 1,511,000 barrels in December 2018 to 907,000 barrels in December 2019, a decrease of 40%. In May 2020, the average daily production fell to 570,000 barrels, the lowest level since 1943, according to OPEC.
In the years 2017/2018 only 40 percent of the oil sales brought foreign exchange income, the remaining sales served purely to service debt to Russia and China as well as payment to Cuba for its services in the country. India, as the largest buyer after the USA, was also no longer a customer from mid-March 2019.
Agriculture, forestry and fishing
Although Venezuela is rich in tropical forest, it is only used to a relatively small extent for forestry due to its difficult accessibility. Lumber is mainly used for the construction, furniture and paper industries.
According to estimates by the FAO, around a quarter of the country's area is used for agriculture. Arable farming plays only a minor role in Venezuela's agriculture, around half of the income from agriculture comes from cattle breeding. Since the state has not published any statistics since 2013, it was hardly noticed that no more fertilizers or seeds had been produced in that year, which, according to a functionary of the Ministry of Agriculture, would "inevitably lead to famine" sooner or later. The large fishing fleets and fish stocks on the coast of Venezuela and in its largest lake are of great importance for the food industry. The main catches are tuna, shellfish and sardines. Many fishermen were completely dependent on barter in 2019 , which was the norm in rural areas in times of hyperinflation.
Most of the electricity comes from hydropower. Examples are the dams on the Caroní, of which the dam on the Guri reservoir is the most prominent. It is currently the third largest hydropower plant in the world.
The share of other renewable energies in the energy supply is insignificant, although the possibility of using wind and solar energy in Venezuela would be considerable. The one-sided dependence on hydropower, increased energy consumption in recent years, inadequate planning and poor maintenance of the infrastructure have led to sometimes massive problems with the electricity supply in recent years. In 2010, due to an extreme drought, the energy supply had to be rationed by switching off electricity for several hours every day.
In 2017/2018, the power supply was described as “unsteady in many parts of the country with interruptions lasting several hours every day” and in March 2019 a nationwide blackout received media attention abroad. 96 percent of the country was also without electricity on one day in July 2019. An overview of the power outages in the country was possible by tracking the accesses to the Internet. The power grid had also acquired a special importance because the currency had collapsed and almost all everyday payments were made electronically.
Regulated domestic trade and exchange control
Inflation, the rigid exchange rate controls since 2003 and the resulting mismatch between the black market exchange rate and the official value of the bolívar against the dollar caused major upheavals in the Venezuelan economy. Numerous everyday goods were often not available. As an example, the news hit the headlines in mid-2013 that toilet paper was scarce in Venezuela. President Nicolás Maduro accused companies of producing less and hiding goods in order to later drive up prices. However, due to the difference between the official and unofficial dollar exchange rates, money could also be made by re-exporting such everyday goods. Because 96 percent of export earnings and thus foreign exchange came into the country via the state, corresponding to oil exports, the allocation of these foreign currencies was the greatest source of corruption in the country.
In November 2013, as an election gift, the Maduro government prescribed compulsory discounts for some retailers, which in some cases even led to the looting of branches under the eyes of the soldiers of the National Guard and the supervision of officials from the "Institute for the Defense of People's Access to Goods and Services" of the affected electrical appliances. Dealer led. The traders actually sold their goods with high margins, possibly to compensate for the official exchange rate allocation, which is subject to large fluctuations and is hardly calculable. The electrical appliances should follow discount dictations for shoes and clothes, toys, food, hardware and auto parts.
Venezuela owed around four billion dollars to foreign airlines in 2015 because of the strict exchange control system and the requirement that airlines were only allowed to export their ticket receipts in the country with authorization in foreign currency. In June 2016, various airlines stopped their flights to Venezuela.
The confiscation of 3.8 million toys from the Kreisel company in December 2016 was seen as a (renewed) gift from the government for the rural population. Price watchdog William Contreras had the company's stocks confiscated for "distorting prices and hiding stocks".
The state bans empty supermarket shelves. There is an order to fill empty space with available products. So it happens that whole shelves only stock oatmeal when it is available.
By far the largest company in Venezuela is the state-owned petroleum company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) with around 80,000 employees.
The food company Empresas Polar with around 30,000 employees is the largest private company in the country.
There is also the Linea Aeropostal Venezolana , the tenth largest South American airline. The Venezolana Internacional de Aviación, Sociedad Anónima (VIASA), the state airline, existed until 1997. With the Conviasa founded in 2004, the government is trying to establish a new state airline - so far only with moderate success.
In July 2016, the state took over a sanitary products factory from Kimberly-Clark that was due to be shut down due to a lack of raw materials.
Many companies that were privatized in the 1980s and 1990s were re-nationalized; since 2007, 347 companies from a wide range of industries (energy, banking, cement, retail, tourism, etc.) have been nationalized by the state. 11 percentage points of GDP were used to acquire the shares (as of October 2010), and in a few cases assets of foreign companies were recognized in the expropriation. According to the chairman of Conindustria, Carlos Larrazábal, the acquisitions have had a negative impact on the investment climate in Venezuela.
In April 2017, a General Motors plant was seized by the Venezuelan authorities. The company then ceased operations in the country.
There are five trade union umbrella organizations: the Unión Nacional de Trabajadores (UNT), the Confederación de Trabajadores de Venezuela (CTV), the Confederación de Sindicatos Autónomos de Venezuela (CODESA), the Confederación General de Trabajadores (CGT) and the Central Unitadaria de Trabajadores de Venezuela (CUTV).
In the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of Transparency International for 2010, Venezuela was in 164th place of the 178 countries recorded with a CPI value of 2.0 (or the 90% confidence interval is between 1.8 and 2.1). In 2016, the country was ranked 166th out of 176 countries together with Iraq . Venezuela remains the most corrupt country on the American continents.
From 2003 there was a currency control that restricted the exchange of the Bolívar (Bs or BsF) into other currencies. So the bolívar was not freely convertible . In January 2008, a currency average of 1: 1000 to the new Bolívar Fuerte (BsF) was implemented in Venezuela .
The Comisión de Administración de Divisas, CADIVI (assigned to the Ministry of Finance), allocated the foreign currency to companies and private persons according to certain keys. As of January 1, 2009, the limit for private individuals was US $ 3,000 per year (previously US $ 5,600). The basis was the exchange rate set by the state.
The Chavez government had long tried to keep the official exchange rate stable despite high inflation rates. The exchange rate was unchanged from 2005 to the beginning of 2010 at 2150 Bs or 2.15 BsF (after the currency average) for US $ 1. In January 2010, a system with two exchange rates was introduced, with 2.60 BsF per US dollar for special imported goods, such as food and medicines, and 4.30 BsF / USD for other items. As of January 1, 2011, a uniform exchange rate of 4.30 BsF / USD applied again. The unregulated black market rate was around 8.4 bolívares per dollar at the end of 2010, almost twice as high as the official rate. In January 2014, the official exchange rate was 6.3 bolívares per dollar, while the black market rate was now 55 bolívares per dollar. In mid-2015, the black market, with over 600 bolívares, had to pay a hundred times the official exchange rate for one dollar.
In 2016, the equivalent of six US dollars was 110 grams of 100 bolívar notes, i.e. 10,000 bolívar, which were often no longer counted, but weighed. The government refused to issue larger bills to disguise inflation; inflation was meanwhile six percent a day and the forecast for 2017 indicated an annual inflation of 2,400 percent. In the spring of 2016, Venezuela had already struggled to pay for the banknotes it needed in increasing numbers.
While the - recently largest - 100 bolívar note was already being withdrawn (planned within 72 hours and with closed borders), a new note for 500 bolívar should have been issued from December 15, 2016, with an equivalent on the black market of around 0 .14 US $. This should be followed by notes of 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 20,000 bolívar. On December 16 (local time), after banks could not issue new banknotes in various cities, protests, looting and 3 deaths occurred. The issue of the new notes was then announced for January 2017; the government had blamed foreign criminals who had hoarded the money abroad for the proposed replacement of the bills. Equally mysterious was the explanation that the new notes could not have been distributed because of alleged sabotage of aircraft. At least one delivery of new notes printed in Sweden with a face value of 500 bolivars reached Venezuela on December 19, 2016, and further notes with a face value of 20,000 bolívares were delivered from Malta. The 100 bolívar notes were valid again until January 20, 2017
On May 31, 2017, the Bolívar was devalued by 64% to a rate of 2010 VEF for one US dollar. The black market rate at this point was already 6100: 1. Due to the hyperinflation , President Maduro presented the future 100,000 bolivar note at the beginning of November 2017, at the time it had the equivalent of around $ 2. At the same time, pensions and the minimum wage should be increased despite warnings that this will further fuel hyperinflation.
The launch of a Venezuelan state crypto currency called Petro by the Maduro government in early 2018 was seen by the NZZ as a desperate attempt to get dollars and declared illegal by the National Assembly .
After that, the President announced in May 2018 that he would "delete three zeros" from the currency in June. In mid-2018, the inflation rate was 43,378 percent. A cup of coffee already cost over a million bolívar, which was a fifth of the monthly minimum wage. In July 2018, five zeros should then be deleted, which came into force on August 20, 2018.
In the summer of 2018, the government had legalized the exchange of dollars for the first time almost unnoticed: the most important source of funding in the country had now become the remittances of Venezuelans who had fled abroad to their families.
Cash had almost disappeared from everyday urban life in the summer of 2018; almost no trading was possible without a debit card. Business or purchases were carried out by means of transfer arrangements; the residents invested great trust in customers and service providers - the trust they no longer had in the currency. A larger amount of cash, on the other hand, could only be bought for two to three times its value and was in short supply. Even in remote areas, where there were hardly any electronic payments, larger amounts of cash could only be received by transferring four times the amount. At the beginning of February 2019, cash withdrawals were limited, if at all, to 500-2000 bolívares per day, which corresponded to a maximum of 50 euro cents or a quarter to a whole donut . The situation was also problematic for the rural population, where producers often had no bank accounts at all and thus bartering flourished.
A comment in the investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta drew attention to the fact that not only the population was trying to avoid the bolivar, but that the government was also trying to get rid of it by creating the petro. Another explanation is that the Petro was only created to destroy trust in crypto currencies, especially the Dash , which served to avoid the state currency among the population. The fact is: "The subject of cryptocurrency would never have become topical in Venezuela if the authorities had not forbidden citizens to use freely convertible money." Interestingly, it turned out that the world's leading Bitcoin was not suitable for Venezuela due to its technology being too complex Dash was used instead: a system was provided that could also work via SMS for people without a computer, tablet or smartphone.
During a day-long power outage in March 2019, everyday life collapsed, schools and offices were closed, and shops only accepted dollars that very few people had. The reason was the already mentioned transition to purely electronic payments with an analog currency that hardly exists any more.
Ironically, the approval of the US dollar as an unofficial currency in mid-2019 and an exemption from customs duties for food and drug imports also from the US gave the anti-US socialist government a breather during the crisis. So-called "Bodegones", tax-exempt shops in which dollars are paid for, improved the supply situation. Maduro himself called the dollarization a "gift from heaven", the economic institute Ecoanalitica estimated the proportion of transactions in dollars in the country at around half. However, the economist Vicente Leon of Datanalisis pointed out that only a minority have access to dollars, while the majority are becoming poor and increasingly dependent on the state.
Venezuela exported $ 93.5 billion in goods in 2008, mainly oil and petroleum products, and imports in the same year at $ 48.1 billion, making the trade balance positive. The main imports are machinery and electrical equipment, chemical products and agricultural products. The most important trading partner is the United States, followed far behind by Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and China.
In 2015, exports of $ 29.5 billion in goods were still exported, mainly petroleum products, but imports in the same year were $ 30.2 billion, making the trade balance negative. The most important trading partners are the United States, China and Brazil, followed by Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Germany.
Thanks to abundant deposits on the Orinoco, Venezuela is the world's eighth largest exporter of iron ore . The country also exports steel , precious metals , aluminum , cement and textiles . Another important industry was the tourism industry until it collapsed completely in the course of the crisis around 2016.
Venezuela is a member of the International Cocoa Organization .
international economic Relations
On December 9, 2005, Venezuela announced that it wanted to join the South American economic alliance Mercosur as the fifth member . In July 2006, Venezuela's admission to Mercosur was decided by the presidents of the four member countries and later adopted by the parliaments of Argentina and Uruguay . The parliaments critical of Chavez in Brazil and Paraguay refuse to give their approval. Venezuela was admitted in 2012 and excluded again in December 2016.
The Alianza Bolivariana para las Américas (abbreviated ALBA , German "Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas" ), initiated by Hugo Chávez, has existed since 2004 and serves to build an economic community between Cuba and Venezuela. Community are Bolivia , Nicaragua , Honduras , Ecuador , Dominica , Antigua and Barbuda and St. Vincent and the Grenadines joined. The aim is to create an alternative to the US -wide free trade zone that the USA is aiming for and to win over as many Latin American states as possible for a common economic market.
Another agreement is the petrocaribe . It allows the Caribbean countries to buy oil from Venezuela, but only a small part has to be paid for immediately. The remaining amount can be deferred for 25 years at an interest rate of 1%. The agreement had meanwhile 19 members in the Caribbean and Central America.
Government spending rose from $ 10 billion to a good 160 billion US dollars between 1998 and 2012, primarily thanks to oil revenues. The proportion of Venezuelans living below the poverty line decreased from 50% in 1998 to 31% in 2013 and extreme poverty halved. After the global oil price fell by half in 2014 and the state oil revenues were halved, poverty rose to 52% in 2014, to 82% in 2016 and a study in the winter of 2018/2019 spoke of a poverty of 90% with growing hunger .
The economic output halved from 2012 to spring 2019. The minimum wage in the country in May 2019 was seven dollars (per month).
|Proportion of people living in poverty in relation to the total population|
2nd half year
|Proportion of people living in extreme poverty in relation to the total population|
2nd half year
The Gini coefficient , which measures the distribution of social wealth, fell from 0.5 in 2002 to 0.39 in 2009. Registered unemployment developed as follows:
|Source: bfai, Germany Trade and Invest, EFE|
The proportion of the population employed in the informal sector is 41.3%. The key economic indicators of gross domestic product, inflation, budget balance and foreign trade have developed as follows in recent years:
|Change in gross domestic product (GDP), real|
|in% compared to the previous year|
|Change in% yoy||−1.0||−7.2||3.2||2.8||−8.9||−7.7||18.3||10.3||10.3||8.4||4.8||~ −2.2||1.5||4.2||5.7||1.3||−3.9||−5.7||−18.0|
|Source: Germany Trade and Invest
from 2010 CIA factbook
|Development of GDP (nominal)|
|absolute (in billion US $)||per inhabitant (in thousands of US $)|
|GDP in billion US $||331.4||331.0||228.0||215.3||260.1||284.7||GDP per inhabitant (in thousands of US $)||11.2||11.5||7.6||7.1||8.4||9.2|
|Origin and use of GDP (2015)|
|Origin of GDP (in%)||Use of GDP (in%)|
|Mining / Industry||35.9||Private consumption||121.3|
|Trade / restaurants / hotels||18.7||Gross fixed capital formation||39.5|
|construction industry||8.8||State consumption||12.9|
|Transport / logistics / communication||5.3||Inventory changes||2.6|
|Agriculture and Forestry||5.3||External contribution||−76.4|
|Development of the inflation rate||Development of the budget balance|
|in% compared to the previous year||in% of GDP
("minus" means deficit in the national budget)
|inflation rate||21.9||40.3||62.1||121.7||254.6||Budget balance||0.8||2.0||1.6||−7.8||−39.9|
|Main trading partner (2016)|
|Export (in%) to||Import (in%) of|
|United States||31.1||United States||24.2|
|Switzerland||13.1||People's Republic of China||14.5|
|other states||28.5||other states||40.2|
|Source: Germany Trade and Invest|
|Main products of foreign trade (2013)|
|Export goods (share in%)||Imported goods (share in%)|
|oil||85.1||Machines and electr. Equipments||27.6|
|Source: Germany Trade and Invest|
|Development of foreign trade|
|in billion US $ and its change compared to the previous year in%|
|% yoy||Billion US $||% year-on-year||Billion US $||% year-on-year||Billion US $||% year-on-year||Billion US $|
|Source: Germany Trade and Invest|
The economic development since the turn of the millennium is shown below.
From 2000 Venezuela continued to be heavily indebted despite the largest oil revenues in its history. Foreign currency debt increased from $ 21.7 billion to $ 36.8 billion between 2000 and 2010. Inland debt grew from $ 1.7 billion to $ 19.3 billion (an increase of 1045%) over the same period. The gross domestic product had tripled during Chavez's reign until 2013, according to experts, this was mainly due to the simultaneous oil price boom.
The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditure of the equivalent of 228.8 billion US dollars , which was offset by income of the equivalent of 95.6 billion US dollars. This results in a budget deficit of 39.9% of GDP . Venezuela's budget deficit was the third highest in the world in relation to economic output and was financed primarily with foreign loans. The national debt amounted to 2016 122.5 billion US dollars or 36.7% of GDP.
In 2006, the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was as follows:
In 2014, the national debt was $ 66 billion, or 51% of GDP. By 2017 the state and PDVSA had issued $ 110 billion in bonds, together with loans and interest, this would result in claims of up to $ 170 billion. Traders demanded around 40 percent interest to hedge bonds in spring 2017.
The Maduro government still served foreign creditors in 2017, despite all the war rhetoric against the USA. The Washington Post called it "suicidal payment practices". The reason given was also that the government needed open financial channels to get the dollars with which it bought the loyalty and repression of the army and militias; "A payment default would mean an immediate change of government," said the banking specialist Alejandro Grisanti.
The country has been in a supply crisis since 2016. While petrol remained extremely heavily subsidized and this “free” petrol is viewed by the population as a kind of natural right, everyday goods cost many times as much. At the beginning of 2016, for example, one paid more for a liter of water than for a full tank of a truck; in May 2017, despite a significant price increase in the meantime, a bottle of drinking water was equated with 1500 liters of regular gasoline. 80 percent of the population was impoverished after 4 years of galloping inflation. The price of fuel should be increased to an international level in late summer 2018. However, this would not apply to holders of the Carnet de la Patria or to registering as drivers at a registration office, which was criticized by the opposition as social and political control or was called favoritism. At the same time, the smuggling of gasoline had become an important source of income for the population and the corrupt military: at the beginning of August 2018, 600,000 liters of gasoline could be bought for a dollar exchanged on the black market. The newspaper El pais made a different calculation: with a single euro cent you could buy gasoline for three years (40 liters per week) - or a can of tuna for a million liters of gasoline.
The last remaining lender for new loans was Russia in 2017 via the oil company Rosneft , which made $ 6 billion in advance payments. Due to the complicated situation with American sanctions against both Russia and Venezuela, an end to Rosneft's support was at least conceivable in spring 2018 and was implemented in March 2020. Rosneft passed the outstanding debts to the Russian state.
On November 3, 2017, Standard & Poor’s lowered the country 's credit rating from CCC to CC. At the time, Venezuela was in debt of $ 155 billion, and the government wanted to negotiate with its creditors about rescheduling.
While the Bank of England had allegedly ignored Venezuela's request to hand over the gold it had stored since mid-December 2018, the Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta suspected that the Venezuelan gold reserve there had been sold in Dubai in January 2019. “Coincidentally”, President Maduro announced at precisely this point that the 62 largest cities in the country would be “beautified” in order to make them “the most beautiful and modern in all of Latin America”.
Venezuela has a road network of 82,700 kilometers, of which 38,998 kilometers are paved, of which 2,690 kilometers are formed by main roads. The main expansion phase was in the 1960s, when many new routes were opened up for the oil and aluminum industry .
Rail transport and public transport
The railway network covers 584 kilometers, of which only 336 kilometers are state-operated. Because of the few railway lines, buses are the main means of transport almost throughout the country.
Since 1999, the government has been promoting plans for a massive expansion of the railway network. Up to 4000 km of railway lines are planned. The expansion should be broken down into various sub-networks. Lines are currently being built from the country's most important port, Puerto Cabello, to La Encrucijada (around 100 km) and to Barquisimeto and Acarigua (a total of 240 km). The work was done by Japanese, Italian and Chinese companies. The army is also used for construction work. In later expansion phases, the capital Caracas is to be connected with the economic centers of Valencia and Barquisimeto and the port of Puerto Cabello. The financing is partly handled by the national development fund. In addition, when awarding the sub-projects, Venezuela tries to obtain co-financing from the respective national promotional or development banks in the countries whose companies receive the contracts.
The waterways (7100 kilometers in total) are very important for the development of the interior, especially the Orinoco. The main ports are La Guaira and Puerto Cabello . The Venezuelan fleet comprises 268 ships with a total tonnage of 872,000 gross registered tons .
The country has seven international airports, including the Caracas airport , the airport Porlamar and Maracaibo airport . The Simón Bolivar Airport in Caracas is the largest with an annual passenger volume of 6.69 million passengers (before 2011).
Alitalia , Gol , Air Canada and Lufthansa , but also the important Latin American LATAM , no longer flew to Venezuela from mid-June 2016. LATAM had previously discontinued connections from Ecuador or Brazil, Air Canada and Aeroméxico theirs as early as 2014. The reason was the export of ticket revenues, which was impossible due to the prevailing currency controls. At the end of June 2017, Avianca , United and (announced) Delta suspended their flights, which means that in August 2017 Iberia , Air France , TAP , American Airlines and Aerolíneas Argentinas were still flying to Venezuela with greatly reduced frequencies. The main connection from the country remained the Copa Airlines from Panama. TAP Portugal connects around 500,000 people living in Venezuela, most of whom come from Madeira , with their home country, but the direct flights to Funchal had already been canceled in 2014.
The national dish is the Pabellón Criollo , a combination of black beans ( Caraotas ), plantain ( Plátano ), rice and shredded fiber meat ( Carne Mechada ). Typical dishes are also the hallacas (a ragout made from beef, raisins, vegetables, capers, olives and nuts in corn dough ) and mondongo (a spicy stew with tripe ). In addition, juice, including papelón con limón , mixed with panela , lime juice and water is drunk. The staple food of the Venezuelans are the arepas , fried or baked corn cakes with a variety of fillings. The sancocho is a soup that is usually served in a large pot for many people and contains various types of vegetables and meat.
The year starts on January 1st, the New Year . Easter takes place in March / April . The proclamation of independence has been celebrated annually since April 19, 1810. As in other countries, May 1st is Labor Day . The Battle of Carabobo is celebrated on June 24th .
The national holiday is July 5th (Independence Day, Día de la Independencia), the day on which the Declaration of Independence was written in 1811 . Another holiday is July 24th, Simón Bolívar's date of birth . The discovery of America is celebrated on October 12th and Christmas on December 25th.
Due to the strong Catholic tradition of the country, various Saints' Days are celebrated in small local festivals throughout the year.
The most famous buildings include the Cathedral of Coro , the Iglesia de San Clemente (Coro) and the old town and port of Coro (jointly UNESCO World Heritage ), the Cathedral of Ciudad Bolívar , the Cathedral of Caracas and the Church of San Francisco . The Capitol of Caracas and the house of the governors in Ciudad Bolívar are particularly worth seeing .
The Panteón and the Municipal Theater are among the most important buildings in Caracas.
Some of the most famous museums in Caracas include the Colección Cisneros, the Colección Fundación Polar, the National Art Museum, the Museo Alejandro Otero (contemporary art), the Museo de Arte Colonial Quinta de Anauco (Museum of Colonial Art) and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas Sofía Imber (contemporary art).
Venezuela's film industry is small but has picked up in recent years. Above all, she produces contemporary, socially critical films or historical dramas. The greatest success in recent years was Secuestro Express (Express Kidnapping, 2005) by Jonathan Jakubowicz.
The Venezuelan media system has consisted of private and state institutions since 1936. That year the first state radio station started its work. In 1952, the first state television station was also founded. However, as in all Latin American countries, private media dominated the offer. Since 2002, the dual media system has been expanded to include the option of setting up community media. These are mostly radio stations with a local range that are operated by neighborhood associations. As of 2002, the state's media system consisted of three pillars: private media, state or public media and public media. From 2005 Chavez nationalized not only commercial enterprises, but also formerly independent TV and radio stations, "which were then brought into line".
The programs Aló Presidente , which mutated into hours of self-portrayal by President Chávez, became particularly famous .
During the reign of Chávez 'and his successor Maduro, concessions from television and radio stations were allowed to expire if enough self-censorship was not practiced, while individual journalists who were unpopular were disciplined or had to be exempted by threatening such concession withdrawals. The radio shutdown included 200 stations, while the restrictive paper allocation by the state made around 100 newspapers disappear.
At the beginning of November 2017, the government tightened the media law by banning "reports that incite violence and hatred", which was aimed at countering criticism of the government. In 2019 it was also possible to violate a “law against the questioning of legitimate and constitutional authority”. At the same time, the government reflexively stoked conspiracy theories on the economic crisis and to explain the failing, neglected infrastructure in the country; a blackout was declared both as sabotage and as an attack by the USA, a process that has been repeated since Hugo Chavez called US President Bush a "devil" at the UN General Assembly in 2006. The state media spread rumors about "unhealthy" US aid deliveries, and the Vice President of Venezuela even described the aid deliveries as biological weapons. This propaganda spread fear of “dangerous” food among the population.
Marc Chéhab wrote in February 2019 that “the regime” has been using deception and censorship to its political advantage for a long time. For example, YouTube was blocked when the President of the Parliament Juan Guaidó spoke to tens of thousands of supporters in Caracas. But even in the 2015 parliamentary elections, a fake party was on the ballot papers to steal votes from the opposition. Oppositionists were faked with the help of fake websites, to which visitors from opposition websites were redirected. Non-state television broadcasters practice self-censorship, and websites of independent media within Venezuela are repeatedly blocked by the state Internet provider CANTV. In 2019, the state supervisory authority issued so-called recommendations to private radio and television stations for reporting. Wikipedia was temporarily inaccessible in mid-January 2019 via CANTV, which controls 85% of Venezuela's internet connections, after Juan Guaidó was named President of Venezuela there. The government denied responsibility for the blockade, claiming that third parties carried out a DoS attack.
The first newspaper was founded with La Gazeta de Caracas in 1806. In 2011, twelve daily newspapers appeared nationwide. The Association of Advertisers (ANDA-Fevap) registered a total of 57 newspapers this year. Most of them are regional papers that cover one or more states.
Ultimás Noticias has the highest circulation with a daily circulation of 200,000 copies. It is published by the Cadena Capriles company . It belongs to the family of the opposition politician Henrique Capriles and also publishes the daily newspapers El Mundo and Líder .
The oldest newspapers in the country are El Nacional and El Universal . El Nacional published its last printed edition in mid-December 2018 after 75 years of publication; the independent newspaper did not get enough paper from the authorities and even the website of the newspaper that was being continued was not accessible to Venezuelans in February 2019, according to the Venezuelan social scientist Roberto Briceno because it was "not acceptable to the power apparatus". The daily newspaper Diario VEA was founded in 2003 as a cooperative. The federal government has been publishing the Correo del Orinoco newspaper since 2009 , which is also published in English. The free daily newspaper Ciudad CCS has been published by the city council of the capital city Libertador since 2010.
There was also a large market for newspapers and magazines in Venezuela. The Bloque de Armas publisher alone had 29 titles on offer. ANDA-Fevap assumed a total of around 220 magazines for 2011.
Television has been considered the leading medium in Venezuela since the 1980s. In 2011, 99% of households had a television set. In 2011, around 96% of the population said they watched TV around six times a week. This means that the degree of utilization is well above all other media. With all providers, news and political information programs enjoy the highest demand.
Six open terrestrial channels broadcast nationwide. Four of them belong to private providers. The largest media company in the country, Grupo Cisneros, operates the Venevisión Canal . The program consists mainly of feature films, telenovelas and shows. The entertainment channel Televen is 46% owned by the second most important media group in the country, Grupo 1BC. The company also produces the RCTV channel, which has only been available via cable and satellite since 2007. The news channel Globovisión mainly broadcasts information and cooperates with CNN-International and the Colombian media company RCN. The sports channel Meridiano Televisión is owned by Bloque de Armas.
In addition, the two channels VTV and Tves can be received nationwide. Venezolana de Televisión (VTV) is the oldest state television channel. It was founded in 1964 by the Time Warner group and nationalized in 1967. Managed by the Ministry of Communications, VTV broadcasts mainly political information. The entertainment channel Televisora Venezolana Social (Tves) is the first public broadcaster in Venezuela. It is run by a foundation and mainly broadcasts Latin American feature films.
Another 29 commercial TV channels broadcast in different regions of Venezuela. Some of them belong to the major media companies in the country. The Catholic Church operates four television channels (Vale TV, Niños Cantores, TV Andina and Amavisión), which can also be received nationwide. The state cultural channel ViveTv, founded in 2002, and the international news channel Telesur can also be received in most regions .
Since 2002, numerous citizens' groups across the country have set up their own television stations. According to information from the regulatory authority CONATEL, 37 communitarian TV channels have been operating in 19 states since 2009. Most of them have a local meaning. The oldest citizen TV broadcaster Catia TV can be received nationwide.
The head of Grupo Cisneros described her company as the last independent broadcaster in Venezuela in 2017.
Cable coverage and satellites
Open television continuously lost viewers from households with higher incomes to cable and satellite providers from the early 2000s. In 2011, around half of all households had paid access to television. The various providers each provided around 150 channels. Four large providers dominated the country: the large Latin American provider DirectTV is partly owned by Grupo Cisneros. Inter, Supercable and Net Uno are smaller national providers. Most of the content distributed via cable comes from international media companies such as Fox Latinamerica Channels, Invermedia, the Discovery Network and Venevisión, which has a number of themed channels. The private telephone operator Movistar and the nationalized telecommunications operator CANTV also offer satellite television.
Radio is by far the most diverse medium in Venezuela. In 2011 a total of 560 radio stations broadcast full programs. According to ANDA-Fevap, 385 of these were registered as private companies.
As in the television sector, several private companies dominate the radio landscape. The most popular station, FM Center, belongs to the country's largest media company, Grupo Cisneros. The Unión Radio chain is owned by the Spanish El País group, which owns numerous media outlets across Latin America. The third largest operator, Circuito Nacional Belfort (CNB), is owned by Cadena Capriles, which also publishes the country's most important daily newspaper. In addition to their core stations, all major radio stations produce numerous programs that are also taken over by smaller cooperation partners. The nine private companies that are present nationwide through such "Cadenas" operate 59% of the stations. The Catholic Church has 21 stations nationwide.
The oldest state radio provider is Radio Nacional de Venezuela (RNV). In 1999 years, the state bought the radio chain YVKE Mundial . The only new state radio project is Radio del Sur . This is an international radio network that is administratively linked to the Telesur news channel. These three state broadcasters can be received nationwide. In addition, some states and municipalities operate their own radios.
The strongest growth since 2002 has been seen in community radios. According to the regulatory authority Conatel, 234 public radio stations across the country had a license in 2009. Since many projects operate without formal approval, the actual number is difficult to estimate. Press articles name up to 500 projects. Unlike in many Latin American countries, the state is obliged to support community radio. In addition, the Venezuelan community radio stations can finance themselves through advertising. The group of “free radios”, such as Radio Libre Negro Primero 101.1 FM in Caracas, is financed exclusively through donations from users. The community radio projects also include the community radio projects of the indigenous population groups. According to the “Network of Speakers of the Indigenous Communities” (Renavive), in 2013 they operated around 50 Indian radios, mostly in remote regions.
Restriction of the freedom of the press
In the 2002 coup, the Chavez government at the time was still faced with a strong media power that followed the new government critically and partially supported the coup. Numerous radio and TV stations, including the prominent RCTV , have been closed by revoking their broadcasting license. The shutdown of the private broadcaster RCTV sparked strong protests, especially from students who accused the government of censorship. Between 2007 and January 2010, RCTV could be received via cable and satellite, which, according to estimates, only reached 35% of the population, instead of almost 98% previously.
One phenomenon is the so-called cadena nacional (chain). They were already known from the earlier forms of government in the country, as well as in other countries in South America. During a chain, all radio and television broadcasters are required by law to broadcast state messages. Traditionally, chains were used for emergencies such as natural disasters, annual presidential addresses, and on national holidays to broadcast parades. Since their widespread use by the Chavez government, the chains have been heavily criticized domestically because they are perceived by opponents of the government as a means of propaganda. For hours Hugo Chavez spread about God and the world on such forced broadcasts.
Since 2009, the cable TV stations that were previously excluded from the chains and which mainly produce in Venezuela have also had to broadcast these parades. In January 2010, six broadcasters were banned from all cable providers without any administrative procedures after they refused to broadcast a chain during an opponent's demonstration.
In 2013, numerous non-governmental newspapers had to cease publication or only appear on the Internet. The most prominent example is El Nacional , which announced on October 27th that it would temporarily suspend the print edition due to a lack of paper. The reason for this is the regulation of foreign exchange transactions by the government and the consequent lack of allocation of foreign exchange for the import of paper. In 2012 the government removed this from the “list of the most important import goods”. Because independent media were harassed and suppressed by the government, formats on the Internet became increasingly important. According to Cécile Mouly and Esperanza Hernández Delgado, this connectivity of citizens and the exchange of credible information via social networks even reduced the uncertainty about information caused by censorship.
Horse races have existed in Llanos for centuries, but today they take place on international racetracks. With the Spanish colonizer, bullfighting came to Venezuela. Many cities have a bullring . The Coleo, a rodeo event in which four riders fight to grab a bull by the tail and throw it to the ground from a galloping horse , is also popular. The cockfight can be found in almost all cities. In addition, chess and dominoes have many fans and are mostly played outdoors.
From 2011 to 2013 the Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado drove in Formula 1 for the Williams F1 Team. In 2014 and 2015 he drove for the Lotus F1 Team before he announced in 2016, despite an ongoing contract with the racing team, that he would no longer compete due to the economic situation of his sponsor Petróleos de Venezuela .
In soccer, the national team is the only one of the South American confederation CONMEBOL that has never qualified for a final round of the men's soccer World Cup . Venezuela has a national team in futsal , an indoor soccer variant mainly played in South America.
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