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Venezuela: Background and U.S. Relations

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Technical Report

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Congressional Research Service Washington United States

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Although historically the United States had close relations with Venezuela, a major oil supplier, friction in bilateral relations increased under the leftist, populist government of President Hugo Chvez 1999-2013, who died in 2013 after battling cancer. After Chvezs death, Venezuela held presidential elections in which acting President Nicols Maduro narrowly defeated Henrique Capriles of the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable MUD, with the opposition alleging significant irregularities. In 2014, the Maduro government violently suppressed protests and imprisoned a major opposition figure, Leopoldo Lpez, along with others.In December 2015, the MUD initially won a two-thirds supermajority in National Assembly elections, a major defeat for the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela PSUV. The Maduro government subsequently thwarted the legislatures power by preventing three MUD representatives from taking office denying the opposition a supermajority and using the Supreme Court to block bills approved by the legislature. For much of 2016, opposition efforts were focused on recalling President Maduro through a national referendum, but the government slowed down the referendum process and suspended it indefinitely on October 20. In late October 2016, after an appeal by Pope Francis, the government and most of the opposition with the exception of Leopoldo Lpezs Popular Will party agreed to talks mediated by the Vatican along with the former presidents of the Dominican Republic, Spain, and Panama and the head of the Union of South American Nations. The two sides issued a declaration on November 12 expressing firm commitment to a peaceful, respectful, and constructive coexistence. They also issued a statement that included an agreement to improve the supply of food and medicine and to resolve the situation of the three National Assembly representatives.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science

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