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Country Analysis Brief: Venezuela

June 25, 2014 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Venezuela
Source: Energy Information Administration

Venezuela is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of crude oil. It has consistently been one of the largest exporters of crude oil in the Americas. As a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Venezuela is an important player in the global oil market. While production has been declining, Venezuela exports of crude oil to the United States have been among the top. In recent years, through significant upfront investment, an increasing share of Venezuela’s exports have been delivered to China and India.

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CRS — Venezuela: Background and U.S. Relations

March 10, 2014 Comments off

Venezuela: Background and U.S. Relations
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

While historically the United States has had close relations with Venezuela, a major oil supplier, friction in bilateral relations rose over the past decade under the leftist populist government of President Hugo Chávez, who died in March 2013 after battling cancer for almost two years. First elected in 1998, Chávez had won reelection to another six-year term in October 2012, capturing about 55% of the vote compared to 44% for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. After Chávez’s death, Venezuela held presidential elections in April 2013 in which acting President Nicolás Maduro, who had been serving as Chávez’s vice president, received 50.61% of the vote, compared to 49.12% for Capriles (a margin of 1.49%). In both of those presidential elections, the incumbent candidate benefited from the use of state resources and media for his campaign. Venezuela’s December 2013 municipal elections demonstrated mixed results for the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) and the opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD).

The Maduro government faces significant challenges, including deteriorating economic conditions (with high inflation and shortages of consumer goods) and high rates of crime and violence. In February 2014, growing street protests erupted into violence with protestors attacked by Venezuelan security forces and militant pro-government civilian groups. A major opposition figure, Leopoldo López, was arrested, and by month’s end, at least 17 people had been killed in the violence.

CRS — Venezuela: Issues for Congress

October 29, 2012 Comments off

Venezuela: Issues for Congress (PDF)

Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Under the rule of populist President Hugo Chávez, first elected in 1998, Venezuela has undergone enormous political changes, with a new constitution and unicameral legislature, and even a new name for the country, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Human rights organizations have expressed concerns about the deterioration of democratic institutions and threats to freedom of expression under the Chávez government. President Chávez won reelection to another six-year term on October 7, 2012, by a margin of 11%, capturing about 55% of the vote compared to 44% for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles. While Chávez’s continued popularity and use of state resources helped his reelection, high rates of crime, inflation, and other economic problems eroded his support somewhat as did an energetic campaign run by Capriles. Looking ahead, Venezuela is schedule to hold state elections on December 16, 2012. Henrique Capriles will run for reelection as governor of the state of Miranda against former Vice President Elías Jaua. At this juncture, Chávez appears to have bounced back from two bouts of an undisclosed form of cancer, although his health status raises questions about Venezuela’s political future.

U.S. Policy

The United States traditionally has had close relations with Venezuela, a major supplier of foreign oil, but there has been friction and tensions in relations under the Chávez government. Over the years, U.S. officials have expressed concerns about human rights, Venezuela’s military arms purchases, its relations with Cuba and Iran, and its efforts to export its brand of populism to other Latin American countries. Declining cooperation on anti-drug and anti-terrorism efforts has been a major concern. The United States has imposed sanctions: on several Venezuelan government and military officials for allegedly helping the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) with drug and weapons trafficking; on three Venezuelan companies for providing support to Iran; and on several Venezuelan individuals for providing support to Hezbollah. Despite tensions in relations, the Obama Administration remains committed to seeking constructive engagement with Venezuela, focusing on such areas as anti-drug and counter-terrorism efforts. In the aftermath of President Chávez’s reelection, the White House, while acknowledging differences with President Chávez, congratulated the Venezuelan people on the high level of participation and the relatively peaceful election process.

Legislative Initiatives

As in past years, there have been concerns in the 112 th Congress regarding the state of Venezuela’s democracy and human rights situation and its deepening relations with Iran. H.R. 3783, approved by the House on September 19, 2012, would require the Administration to conduct an assessment and present “a strategy to address Iran’s growing hostile presence and activity in the Western Hemisphere.” H.R. 2542, approved by the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere December 15, 2011, would withhold some assistance to the Organization of American States unless that body took action to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter regarding the status of democracy in Venezuela. H.R. 2583, approved by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs July 19, 2011, includes a provision that would prohibit aid to the government of Venezuela. Other legislative initiatives include H.Res. 247, which would call on the Secretary of State to designate Venezuela as a state sponsor of terrorism; and H.R. 6067, which includes a section imposing restrictions on U.S. nuclear cooperation with any country assisting the nuclear program of Venezuela or Cuba or transferring advanced conventional weapons or missiles to Venezuela or Cuba.

In action on FY2013 foreign aid appropriations, the report to the House Appropriations Committee bill, H.R. 5857 (H.Rept. 112-494, reported May 25, 2012), directs that $5 million in Economic Support Funds be provided for democracy programs in Venezuela, the same amount appropriated in FY2012, and $2 million more than requested by the Administration. In contrast, the report to the Senate Appropriations Committee bill, S. 3241 (S.Rept. 112-172, reported May 24, 2012), recommends $3 million for democracy programs in Venezuela to be administered by the National Endowment for Democracy.

Country Analysis Brief: Venezuela

October 4, 2012 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Venezuela
Source: Energy Information Administration

Venezuela is one of the world’s largest exporters of crude oil and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. The oil sector is of central importance to the Venezuelan economy. As a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Venezuela is an important player in the global oil market.

In 2010, Venezuela consumed 3.2 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs) of total energy. Oil represents the bulk of total energy consumption in Venezuela. Hydroelectricity and natural gas each account for over 20 percent, while coal accounts for the remainder of energy use. Over the last decade the share of oil consumption in the country’s total energy mix has risen from 36 percent to 47 percent, largely because the Venezuelan government subsidizes liquid fuels.

Country Specific Information: Venezuela

July 10, 2011 Comments off

Country Specific Information: Venezuela
Source: U.S. Department State

July 08, 2011

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Venezuela is a medium income country whose economy is dominated by a substantial oil industry. The political climate in Venezuela is highly polarized and volatile. Violent crime is a serious problem, and the capital city of Caracas has been cited as having one of the highest per capita homicide rates in the world. Kidnappings, assaults, and robberies occur throughout the country. Scheduled air service and all-weather roads connect major cities and most regions of the country. Venezuela’s tourism infrastructure varies in quality according to location and price. For an in depth country description of Venezuela, please read the Department of StateBackground Notes on Venezuela.

Socio-Economic Impact of Arms Transfers to Developing Countries

June 7, 2011 Comments off

Socio-Economic Impact of Arms Transfers to Developing Countries
Source: Social Science Research Network (Peace & Conflict Review)

In developing nations, importance placed upon defence spending comes at a social cost. This paper explores the link between developing nations’ arms imports and their impact upon socio-economic factors. The first part of this paper elaborates upon the problem of arms transfers to developing countries. The second part provides case studies of Colombia, Egypt, Eritrea, India, Iran, Namibia, Pakistan, Venezuela, and Vietnam. The comparative analysis demonstrates that arms imports have a negative impact upon developing nations. GDP per capita spent upon arms imports usually has the strongest impact upon socio-economic factors, though conflict status and regional stability are also influential.

Country Analysis Brief: Venezuela

March 31, 2011 Comments off

Country Analysis Brief: Venezuela
Source: Energy Information Administration

Venezuela is one of the world’s largest exporters of crude oil and the largest in the Western Hemisphere. The oil sector is of central importance to the Venezuelan economy. As a founding member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Venezuela is an important player in the global oil market.
Map of Venezuela
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