Latin America: no sympathy for Venezuela’s Chavistas


When Venezuela’s head of state arrived in Quito, Ecuador, last week for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States summit, his pitch was almost unrecognizable. Gone were the encomiums to 21st-century socialism and the late President Hugo Chavez’s set-piece barbs against yanqui imperialism. In their place were contrition and beseeching, analyst Mac Margolis writes:

After almost 17 years of autocratic excess and economic trial and error, it’s hardly surprising that South America’s most oil-dependent economy is in miserable shape. Inflation may be racing toward more than 700 percent, and crime has exploded. Venezuela placed last in Latin America on Transparency International’s latest index on perceived public-sector corruption. U.S. prosecutors have indicted Venezuelan officials and arrested two of the president’s relatives on drug trafficking charges, and the country just forfeited its right to vote at the United Nations General Assembly for failing to pay its dues…..Nor does wrecking the economy in the name of revolution or tossing dissidents in jail go down so well anymore in a region where constitutional democracy is gaining ground.

The shift in sentiment marks a departure from the recent failure of regional bodies like UNASUR to call out the Venezuelan regime’s pre-election abuses, analyst Christopher Sabatini wrote for the National Endowment for Democracy’s Resurgent Dictatorships blog.

Venezuela’s opposition must define within weeks its strategy for ending Maduro’s presidency given the OPEC nation’s “monstrous” economic crisis, says opposition leader Henrique Capriles:

Having won control of the National Assembly last month due to voter ire at Venezuela’s punishing recession, the opposition coalition has vowed to find a constitutional mechanism to oust Hugo Chavez’ successor in the first half of 2016. Options for the multi-faction coalition include demanding his resignation, forcing a recall referendum as allowed half-way through his term, or reforming the constitution to trigger a new presidential election.

“We have to find a common position. The clock is ticking … We can’t wait longer than the first quarter,” Capriles, a state governor who narrowly lost a 2013 presidential vote to Maduro, told Reuters in an interview late on Thursday.

12 noon – February 5, 2016 The Women’s Foreign Policy Group holds a discussion on “Moving Forward? Venezuela’s Economic and Political Challenges.”

Discussants: Miriam Kornblith, director of the National Endowment for Democracy’s Latin American and Caribbean Program; Diana Villiers Negroponte, public policy scholar at the Wilson Center

Venue: Wilderness Society, 1615 M Street NW, Washington, D.C.

RSVP: 202-429-2692,

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