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Venezuela Introduction - 2024


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Venezuela was one of three countries that emerged from the collapse of Gran Colombia in 1830 (the others being Ecuador and New Granada, which became Colombia). For most of the first half of the 20th century, Venezuela was ruled by military strongmen who promoted the oil industry and allowed for some social reforms. Although democratically elected governments largely held sway since 1959, the executive branch under Hugo CHAVEZ, president from 1999 to 2013, exercised increasingly authoritarian control over other branches of government.  This undemocratic trend continued in 2018 when Nicolas MADURO claimed the presidency for his second term in an election boycotted by most opposition parties and widely viewed as fraudulent.

The last democratically-elected institution is the 2015 National Assembly. In 2020, legislative elections were held for a new National Assembly, which the opposition boycotted, and which were widely condemned as fraudulent. The resulting assembly is viewed by most opposition parties and many international actors as illegitimate. In November 2021, most opposition parties broke a three-year election boycott to participate in mayoral and gubernatorial elections, despite flawed conditions. As a result, the opposition more than doubled its representation at the mayoral level and retained four of 23 governorships. The 2021 regional elections marked the first time since 2006 that the EU was allowed to send an electoral observation mission to Venezuela.

MADURO places strong restrictions on freedoms of expression and the press. Since CHAVEZ, the ruling party's economic policies expanded the state's role in the economy through expropriations of major enterprises, strict currency exchange and price controls that discourage private sector investment and production, and overdependence on the petroleum industry for revenues, among others. Years of economic mismanagement left Venezuela ill-prepared to weather the global drop in oil prices in 2014, sparking an economic decline that has resulted in reduced government social spending, shortages of basic goods, and high inflation. Worsened living conditions have prompted nearly 8 million Venezuelans to migrate, mainly settling in nearby countries. Since 2017, the US has imposed financial sanctions on MADURO and his representatives and, since 2018, on sectors of the Venezuelan economy. This began to change in response to MADURO and his representatives making democratic and electoral concessions, particularly in October 2023 when the opposition-led Unitary Platform signed an electoral roadmap agreement with MADURO representatives in Barbados. As a result, MADURO and his representatives received limited sanctions relief. MADURO and his representatives' mismanagement and lack of investment in infrastructure has debilitated the country's energy sector. Caracas has more recently relaxed some economic controls to mitigate the impact of its sustained economic crisis, such as allowing increased import flexibility for private citizens and companies and the informal use of US dollars and other international currencies. Still, ongoing concerns include human rights abuses, rampant violent crime, political manipulation of the judicial and electoral systems, and corruption.

NOTE: The information regarding Venezuela on this page is re-published from the 2024 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Venezuela 2024 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Venezuela 2024 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.

This page was last modified 04 May 24, Copyright © 2024 ITA all rights reserved.