Venezuela Under President Chavez: Political Conditions and U.S. Policy in 2000 [Updated August 8, 2000]   [open pdf - 40KB]

"Although Venezuela has had a history of democratic rule since 1958, the election of former coup leader and populist Hugo Chavez as President in December 1998 has raised speculation about the future of Venezuelan democracy. The watershed election, in which Chavez captured 56% of the vote, illustrated Venezuelans' rejection of the country's two traditional parties. Chavez pledged to improve Venezuelans' declining standard of living, reform Venezuela's corrupt political system, and curb the autonomy of the state-owned oil company. Since 1998, Venezuela has undergone enormous political change and has a new constitution in place. Voters once again went to the polls on July 30, 2000 for a so-called mega-election, in which Chavez won re-election to a six-year term under the country's new constitution. Some observers fear that President Chavez is moving toward authoritarian rule and point to his domination of state institutions. Meanwhile, Venezuela has yet to rebound from a deep recession caused by the fall in world oil prices in 1998, despite a rise in the price of oil, the country's main export. U.S. interests in Venezuela include the continued flow of oil exports at a reasonable and stable price; the preservation of constitutional democracy; and continued close anti-narcotics cooperation. This report will not be updated."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RS20345
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