Venezuela: Political Conditions and U.S. Policy
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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An oil-exporting South American nation with a population of about 25 million, Venezuela has been wracked by several years of political turmoil under the populist rule of President Hugo Ch vez who was first elected in 1998. Under Ch vez, Venezuela has undergone enormous political changes, with a new constitution in place, a new unicameral legislature, and even a new name for the country, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Ch vez was re-elected President with a new six-year term in July 2000 under the new constitution. Although Ch vez remained widely popular until mid-2001, his popularity eroded considerably after that, amid concerns that he was imposing a leftist agenda on the country and that his government was ineffective in improving living conditions. In April 2002, massive opposition protests and pressure by the military led to the ouster of Ch vez from power for a brief period. The military ultimately restored him to power, but political opposition to Ch vezs rule continued. From early December 2002 until early February 2003, the opposition orchestrated a general strike that severely curtailed Venezuela s oil exports, but was unsuccessful in getting President Ch vez to agree to new elections. After months of negotiations facilitated by the OAS and the Carter Center, the Ch vez government and the political opposition signed an agreement in May 2003 that set forth mechanisms to resolve the political crisis. This led to an August 15, 2004 presidential recall referendum that Ch vez won convincingly by a margin of 59.3 to 40.7.
- Government and Political Science