Venezuela - The Osmosis between the Dominant Political Party, the Military and the Public Administration

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After the end of the Jiménez dictatorship in 1958, Venezuela experienced four decades of civilian democracy based on a pact between the two principal political parties and bankrolled by revenues from the country’s huge oil reserves. But in the late 1980s, the political situation began to deteriorate, with internal leadership disputes and widespread corruption among public officials taking their toll. In this context, Lieutenant-Colonel Hugo Chávez, leading a staged a failed reformist coup in 1992, was elected to the presidency six years later with an agenda of social and economic reforms. Chávez changed the role of the armed forces, converting them into an instrument of national development and a service provider to the poor and the underprivileged. In 2002, Chávez survived an attempted military coup and a failed general strike, organised by military and political opponents. In response, Chávez thoroughly purged the military top brass, with loyalty to the president and the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ becoming a career requirement. The military were assigned top management positions in the new missions, the public administration and the nationalised economy. Under Chávez’ successor, Maduro, civilian ministries and management functions were being transferred to the military. The armed forces became both the right (defence, management) and the left (control, repression) hand of the government. In face of the escalating economic and humanitarian crisis, escalating violence and deep social and political fault lines, Maduro’s government is sustained by an alliance between the elite of his political party and the military establishment. But what if the Venezuelan economic and political crisis deepens, the protest movements become more desperate and the armed forces, instead of a loyal supporter, feels the need to become a national arbiter?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLatin American Military and Politics in the Twenty-First Century
Subtitle of host publicationA Cross - National Analysis
EditorsDirk Kruijt, Kees Koonings
Place of PublicationNew York
Pages193 - 206
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-003-16478
ISBN (Print)987-0-367-75778-6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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