Venezuela

  South America, Venezuela

Venezuela, officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is a country located on the northern coast of South America. It is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea to the north, Guyana to the east, Brazil to the south, and Colombia to the west. The Venezuelan government claims the Guayana Esequiba region, which makes up two-thirds of Guyana. It has many islands and islets in the Caribbean Sea. In addition, the Lesser Antilles islands, Aruba and Curaçao countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Bonaire and Trinidad and Tobago island states of the Netherlands are located off Venezuela. It has an area of ​​916,445 km2 and a population of approximately 28 million. Its capital and largest metropolis is Caracas.

Venezuela is a federal republic with 23 states and federal dependencies that includes the Capital Territory and islands, and is governed by a presidential system. The vast majority of Venezuelans live in major cities in the north of the country, making Venezuela one of the countries with the highest urbanization rate in Latin America.

The territory of Venezuela was colonized by Spain in 1522, despite the resistance of the indigenous peoples. It was the first region to declare independence from Spain in 1811. After being part of the Republic of Colombia (Greater Colombia) for a while, it seceded in 1830 and became a fully independent country. The country, which was shaken by autocratic governments and political turmoil in the 19th century, was ruled by military dictatorships until the middle of the 20th century. Since 1958, governments came to office through democratic means, Venezuela was an exception considering the region it is in. This period also brought economic prosperity to the country. The economic crises of the 1980s and 90s caused political crises and social turmoil in the country. The 1989 Caracazo events, the two coup attempts in 1992 and the dismissal of the president of the period in 1993 for embezzlement are the important events of the period. The public’s loss of confidence in political parties led to the 1998 presidential election and the resulting Bolivarian Revolution, which began in 1999 with the Constituent Assembly drafting a new constitution. Taking advantage of rising oil prices, the government launched populist social support programs. In the first years of the new regime, social expenditures of the state increased temporarily, economic inequality and poverty decreased. The 2013 presidential election was highly controversial and nationwide protests erupted. This crisis was one of the triggers of the current Venezuelan crisis.

Venezuela is a developing country and ranks 113 on the Human Development Index. It has the world’s largest known oil reserves and is one of the leading oil exporters. While the main export item of the country was unprocessed agricultural products such as coffee and cocoa, oil soon took the lead and constituted a large part of the state revenues. The main culprit for the collapse of the Venezuelan economy is the accountability and mismanagement of the incumbent government. The country is struggling with record levels of hyperinflation, shortages of basic goods, unemployment, poverty, diseases, child deaths, malnutrition, crime and corruption. These problems have spawned a refugee crisis, with more than three million Venezuelans leaving the country. In 2017, Venezuelan credit rating agencies declared a default (inability to pay the debt on time). Due to the crisis in the country, the human rights record of the country, where many human rights violations, including torture, arbitrary imprisonment, extrajudicial executions and attacks on human rights defenders, has been taking place, is getting worse day by day. Venezuela is a member of the UN, OAS, UNASUR, ALBA, Mercosur, ALADI and OEI.

History

Venezuela, officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, is a country located on the northern coast of South America. It is surrounded by the Caribbean Sea to the north, Guyana to the east, Brazil to the south, and Colombia to the west. The Venezuelan government claims the Guayana Esequiba region, which makes up two-thirds of Guyana. It has many islands and islets in the Caribbean Sea. In addition, the Lesser Antilles islands, Aruba and Curaçao countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Bonaire and Trinidad and Tobago island states of the Netherlands are located off Venezuela. It has an area of ​​916,445 km2 and a population of approximately 28 million. Its capital and largest metropolis is Caracas.

Venezuela is a federal republic with 23 states and federal dependencies that includes the Capital Territory and islands, and is governed by a presidential system. The vast majority of Venezuelans live in major cities in the north of the country, making Venezuela one of the countries with the highest urbanization rate in Latin America.

The territory of Venezuela was colonized by Spain in 1522, despite the resistance of the indigenous peoples. It was the first region to declare independence from Spain in 1811. After being part of the Republic of Colombia (Greater Colombia) for a while, it seceded in 1830 and became a fully independent country. The country, which was shaken by autocratic governments and political turmoil in the 19th century, was ruled by military dictatorships until the middle of the 20th century. Since 1958, governments came to office through democratic means, Venezuela was an exception considering the region it is in. This period also brought economic prosperity to the country. The economic crises of the 1980s and 90s caused political crises and social turmoil in the country. The 1989 Caracazo events, the two coup attempts in 1992 and the dismissal of the president of the period in 1993 for embezzlement are the important events of the period. The public’s loss of confidence in political parties led to the 1998 presidential election and the resulting Bolivarian Revolution, which began in 1999 with the Constituent Assembly drafting a new constitution. Taking advantage of rising oil prices, the government launched populist social support programs. In the first years of the new regime, social expenditures of the state increased temporarily, economic inequality and poverty decreased. The 2013 presidential election was highly controversial and nationwide protests erupted. This crisis was one of the triggers of the current Venezuelan crisis.

Venezuela is a developing country and ranks 113 on the Human Development Index. It has the world’s largest known oil reserves and is one of the leading oil exporters. While the main export item of the country was unprocessed agricultural products such as coffee and cocoa, oil soon took the lead and constituted a large part of the state revenues. The main culprit for the collapse of the Venezuelan economy is the accountability and mismanagement of the incumbent government. The country is struggling with record levels of hyperinflation, shortages of basic goods, unemployment, poverty, diseases, child deaths, malnutrition, crime and corruption. These problems have spawned a refugee crisis, with more than three million Venezuelans leaving the country. In 2017, Venezuelan credit rating agencies declared a default (inability to pay the debt on time). Due to the crisis in the country, the human rights record of the country, where many human rights violations, including torture, arbitrary imprisonment, extrajudicial executions and attacks on human rights defenders, has been taking place, is getting worse day by day. Venezuela is a member of the UN, OAS, UNASUR, ALBA, Mercosur, ALADI and OEI.

Caracazo is the name given to the events that occurred in response to the implementation of the IMF’s structural adjustment programs in 1989. These policies included neo-liberal policies such as liberalizing interest rates, increasing taxes on public services, abolishing import duties to a large extent, reducing the budget deficit by 4%, and allowing foreign firms to transfer all their profits to their countries. In the resulting table, problems such as inflation reaching 80.7%, unemployment rising to 14% and 80.42% of the people living in poverty have emerged. According to unofficial figures that took to the streets in response to the policies of Calos Andrés Perez, the leader of the ruling AD, around 3000 people were killed by the government forces, and these events were a very important break for the country living in peace.

In the 1980s, Hugo Chávez is a professional soldier, and in 1982 he and his friends formed a body called Movimiento Bolivariano Revolucíonario 200 (Bolivarian Revolutionary Movement – MBR 200), which aims to organize secret and close young officers. This movement became publicly known with the coup attempt of Chavez and his friends on February 4, 1992. It has been stated that this coup attempt was born as a reaction to the Caracazo events, where the people who rebelled against the implementation of neo-liberal policies were harshly suppressed by the government. The coup failed as a result, and Chavez was imprisoned, but the public had a chance to get to know him. After Chavez surrendered, he asked to be allowed to speak for a minute on television to call on other rebels to surrender, and declared that they ended the rebellion by stating that “new possibilities will emerge and the country will move towards a better future” in the time given to him.

In 1993, President Perez was dismissed for misuse of public funds, and in 1994 Rafael Caldera, the leader of the newly formed centre-right party Convergencia, was elected president with the support of a small left-wing party called MAS. MBR 200 has called for a boycott of these elections. Caldera freed Chávez, who had won the love of the poor people.

Later, Chávez, who participated in the 1998 presidential elections with the newly founded “Fifth Republic Revolution” party, was elected president with 56 percent of the votes. In 1999, with the initiatives of this party, a new constitution was prepared and accepted by referendum. Chávez, who was re-elected president in 2000 with 59% of the vote, was authorized by the parliament in November 2000 to rule the country by decree for a year. In this one year, Chávez’s 49 decrees containing major regulations, especially in agriculture and oil fields, created uneasiness among the powers that had been dominant in the country until then, and led to resistance and polarization in the regulations. In December 2001, the country’s major employers’ and workers’ unions attempted general layoffs. In 2002, the military and some elements of civil society overthrew Chávez from the presidency in a coup, but Chávez was reinstated within 48 hours with the support of the public and the army. The role of the United States, the largest buyer of Venezuelan oil, in the failed coup has been debated but not proven. Chávez won the referendum held on August 15, 2004, with 58% of the votes. Although anti-Chávez forces in the country claimed corruption in the referendum, the validity of the vote was confirmed by the Organization of American States and the Carter Institution in the USA.

Venezuela is a member of the South American Commonwealth of Nations.

In 1998, when the socio-economic problems deepened with the effect of the Asian economic crisis, the Chavez government began. In this period, a redistributive policy was adopted in order to increase the welfare level of the poor people. The most important public source of this redistribution was the revenues of the national oil company, PDSVA (Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A.). However, these excessive expenditures resulted in high inflation figures in the country. In addition, the fall in oil prices caused by the economic crisis in 2008 accelerated the economic crash in the country. In addition, the lack of attention to other economic areas other than oil exports caused great difficulties in the production and supply of goods within the country. As a result, famine began to appear in the country since the 2010s.

In 2012, current President Hugo Chávez contracted cancer and named Foreign Minister Nicolás Maduro as his successor. He left his post on March 5, 2013. Elections were held under the interim presidency of the successor Maduro, and Maduro won the elections with 50.62 percent of the votes, despite the presence of international observers. The opposition claimed the election results were rigged, and protests against corruption and poverty broke out across the country. However, the Supreme Court of Venezuela (Tribunal Supremo de Justicia) considered the election results valid and upheld Maduro’s presidency. After this decision, the intensity of the protests across the country and the violence of the Maduro administration increased in parallel.

In Maduro’s rule, as in the second term of Chavez, the decline in the welfare of the country continued rapidly. The shrinkage in the economy has exceeded 50 percent. In addition, annual inflation figures rose to tens of thousands of percent. As a result of these developments, the opposition won an important electoral victory in the 2015 parliamentary elections and obtained a parliamentary majority. The following year, the opposition-dominated National Assembly (Asamblea Nacional) called for a referendum to remove Maduro (recall) and shorten the terms of future presidents. However, this call was stopped by the National Electoral Council (Consejo Nacional Electoral). After the cancellation decision, millions of people started demonstrations and hundreds of people lost their lives.

Since the National Assembly was elected, it has become a key fob against Maduro in terms of legislative activities. The Supreme Court, which is pro-Maduro due to this attitude of the Assembly, deprived the Assembly of legislative power on March 29, 2017 and announced that it would use these powers itself. It also lifted the immunity of MPs, the majority of whom were opposition. This attitude of the Supreme Court was described as a coup by the Organization of American States (OAS), led by the USA.

On May 1, 2017, Maduro, tied by the legislature, called for the 1999 Constitution to be amended. The proposal meant the establishment of a parallel assembly as an alternative to the national assembly. As a result of the elections held on 30 August 2017 and boycotted by the opposition, a National Constituent Assembly (Asamblea Nacional Constituyente) was formed. The new assembly began to act as a legislature in place of the national assembly.

Maduro was re-elected in May 2018, but many irregularities were detected by international observers and the opposition. While Cuba, China, Russia, Turkey and Iran recognize Maduro as the legitimate president, many countries such as Brazil, Argentina, USA, Germany and France have announced that they do not recognize the election result. In addition, some countries cut diplomatic relations with Venezuela, while others demanded Maduro step down. The first reaction from international organizations came from the Lima group, which was formed in 2017 by Latin American countries to peacefully resolve the crisis in Venezuela. Right after, in January 2019, the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) decided not to recognize the legitimacy of Maduro’s new term. The EU Parliament also majority approved on January 31st the recognition of Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president of the Republic of Venezuela. In contrast, the United Nations recognized the Maduro government as Venezuela’s sole legitimate representative.

On January 5, 2019, the Venezuelan National Assembly, dominated by Maduro’s opposition, declared that Maduro had usurped the presidency and that the presidency was vacant. Following this, he named the Speaker of the Assembly Juan Guaidó as interim president, based on Article 233 of the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution. According to this article, the President of the Assembly is the only authorized person who acts as the interim president in various situations in the absence of the president until he leads the country to the elections. The USA, Canada and Brazil quickly accepted Guaido as the legitimate head of state, while Russia, China and Cuba supported Maduro.

International reactions :

In January 2019, the Trump administration decided to impose sanctions on Venzeula’s national oil company, PDVSA. As a result of these sanctions, it was predicted that Venzeula would experience an annual loss of around 11 billion dollars.

On March 24, Russia sent hundreds of soldiers and military equipment to the Venezuelan government.

On April 17, the United States Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on the Central Bank of Venezuela.

In June, Deutschebank and Citibank seized $1.4 billion in gold reserves due to the Venezuelan government’s inability to pay its debts.

Geography

It is located in the north of South America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, between Colombia and Guyana. At 8 00 North latitude, 66 00 West longitude, it is limited to South America, Central America and the Caribbean.

It has a tropical climate. To the northwest is the Andes and Maracaibo plains, to the middle are the plains, and to the southeast are the Guyana highlands.

Transportation

Venezuela deals with different transportation alternatives compared to many other countries. Compared to many developed or developing countries, Venezuela is quite ahead in air transportation. Cable cars in the country are cheap and fast, and cable cars are one of the most preferred means of transportation in the country. Although land, air and waterways are developing within the country, the same development is not seen for railways. Even if Hugo Chávez wanted to develop the railways in the country, Hugo Chávez gave up or suspended this project because the country’s economy was insufficient and he owed debts to some companies in the private sector.

The Republic of Venezuela is governed by a Presidential Republic. The capital is Caracas; administrative divisions; 23 states, 1 federal district, and 1 federal dependent; Amazonas, Anzoategui, Apure, Aragua, Barinas, Bolivar, Carabobo, Cojedes, Delta Amacuro, Dependencias Federales, Distrito Federal, Falcon, Guarico, Lara, Merida, Miranda, Monagas, Nueva Esparta, Portuguesa, Sucre, Tachira, Trujillo, Vargas, Yaracuy, Zulia.

Independence day, July 5, 1811 (from Spain and Venezuela), is National Independence Day. And 14 September 1904 is the national holiday in Venezuela. It is the National Defender’s Day. It is the birthday of the president of the Republic of Venezuela.

Economy

As a result of the discoveries made in recent years, Venezuela became the country with the largest oil reserves in the world in 2012, surpassing Saudi Arabia in this area. Thus, Saudi Arabia has lost its leadership in oil reserves, which it has maintained for nearly 70 years.

Venezuela has 296 billion barrels of crude oil reserves, according to OPEC official data. To give an example, this amount of oil is sufficient to meet Turkey’s 1220 annual needs. Thus, Venezuela has risen to an extremely strategic position economically and politically.

There has been a serious collapse in the economy in recent years. One of the reasons for this is the Dutch disease.

LEAVE A COMMENT