The CSS Blog Network

Falling Oil Prices May Spell Disaster for President of Venezuela

Tear gas used against protesters in Altamira, Caracas, 2014. Image: Andrés E. Azpúrua/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Southern Pulse on 22 January 2015.

On 14 January 2014, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro promised the Petrocaribe alliance would continue and its twenty member countries would further consolidate into a “great economic zone.” President Maduro’s guarantee comes at a precarious time for his country, as a rapid and unexpected slump in global oil prices, coupled with persistent economic stagnation in Venezuela, have undercut his administration’s ability to maintain its social programs and address the country’s financial imbalances. » More

Chávez vs UKIP? How Latin America Has Reinvigorated the European Left

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP

Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP

This article was originally published by SPERI on 13 August 2014.

The numbers speak for themselves. Though currently in opposition, both its plurality in European elections and recent polling suggest that Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) will soon become Greece’s largest political force. Only founded in March, Spain’s Podemos (We Can) took five seats and 8 per cent of the vote in May’s European elections. Its support now stands at 15 per cent, compared to 25 per cent apiece for the traditional parties. How did both manage it? Surprisingly, the answer is by emulating the Latin American left. Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras has undertaken numerous fact-finding missions to Venezuela over the past decade and considers Hugo Chávez a personal hero. Podemos, meanwhile, was established by a group of longstanding advisors to the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela, all based at Madrid’s Universidad Complutense. So central has their experience been that Podemos cite ‘thorough analysis and learning of recent Latin American processes’ as one cornerstone of their approach. » More

Searching for an Exit: Latin America and Venezuela

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, courtesy of Valter Campanato/wikimedia commons

This is a shortened version of the original article, published on 11 March 2014 on the International Crisis Group’s Latin America Crime & Politics blog.

The crisis in Venezuela has escalated beyond the capacity of domestic actors to find a space for dialogue. Each party rejects the legitimacy of its rival. Human rights violations – and protester violence – are leaving deep wounds in Venezuelan society that will take years to heal. Not long ago, such an impasse would have prompted the immediate response of the international community and particularly of regional organisations such as the Organization of American States (OAS). But Latin America is dividing against itself, and Venezuelans are paying the price.

During and after democratic transitions in the hemisphere’s southern cone and the negotiated peace of armed conflicts in Central America (1983-1996), the region built a credible system to protect human rights. The Inter-American Commission and Court on Human Rights, whose competence and jurisdiction were recognised by almost all American nations (with the notable exceptions of Canada, Cuba, and the U.S.), established standards to sanction past and present human rights violations. In 2001, the OAS, at the culmination of this expansive process, adopted the Inter-American Democratic Charter to protect and promote democracy and the rule of law, understanding that these were vital components of free societies. » More

Autumn of the Patriarchs

Hugo Chávez

Hugo Chávez. Photo: Valter Campanato/ABr/Wikimedia Commons.

MADRID – “How difficult it is to die!” Francisco Franco is reputed to have exclaimed on his deathbed. Death, it seems, is always particularly difficult for autocrats to manage, even when they succeed in dying of natural causes.

A dictator’s death throes are always a form of theater, featuring ecstatic masses, would-be successors fighting for political survival, and, behind the scenes, the dictator’s coterie locked in efforts to extend the life of their patriarch until they can secure their privileges. Franco’s son-in-law, who was also the family doctor, kept the dying despot on life-support machines for more than a month. » More

Latin America after Hugo Chávez: Changes and Continuities

Hugo Chavez mural in Caracas, Venezuela

Hugo Chavez mural in Caracas, Venezuela. Photo by mwausk on flickr (CC BY 2.0)

As a staunch critic of the United States and a leading figure of the left-wing revival across Latin America, Hugo Chávez Frías has undoubtedly left a remarkable footprint on contemporary international politics. But what will come of his legacy?

As Venezuela mourns and a new election campaign commences, many are asking questions about the future of political relations in Latin America, a region where Chávez is credited with strong leadership. » More

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