February 24, 2021

Venezuela's Story: Democratic Paths to Authoritarianism

By Katie Galgano

Once considered one of the most stable democracies in Latin America, Venezuela is now a country in crisis. Two men claim to be president, inflation runs rampant, citizens suffer from intense food and medical shortages, and more than 5 million Venezuelans have fled the country. Though elections are held, they cannot be considered democratic. With certain parties barred from running for office, opposition leaders jailed or in exile, and intimidation tactics employed, elections are neither free nor fair. Venezuela stands as an example that democracy is not static. Even strong and stable democracies are vulnerable to backsliding and embracing authoritarian tendencies.

Venezuelan presidents Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro have twisted democracy to achieve authoritarian ends.

Venezuelan presidents Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro have twisted democracy to achieve authoritarian ends. These legitimately elected leaders used democratic means to undermine the rule of law and democracy itself. Collectively, Chávez and Maduro have ruled Venezuela for over 20 years, yet democracies around the world are still struggling with how to pull the country out of crisis and restore order as well as genuine, principled rule of law.

So far, the United States has responded to Venezuela’s democratic backsliding and authoritarian exploits by heavily sanctioning Venezuelan leaders. In March 2020, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted President Nicolás Maduro and other Venezuelan leaders with narco-terrorism and drug trafficking, among other charges. More recently, human rights investigators from the United Nations accused top Venezuelan leaders of crimes against humanity.

Read the full article from Real Clear World.

  • Commentary
    • National Interest
    • June 9, 2021
    Why Biden Should Extend Vaccine Diplomacy to Sanctioned States Like Venezuela, Iran, and North Korea

    Extending vaccine diplomacy to heavily sanctioned countries will allow Washington to both hedge against growing Chinese-Russian influence abroad and help alleviate global huma...

    By Jason Bartlett

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • April 29, 2021
    The Case for Microlateralism

    In sharp contrast with former U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America first” agenda, President Joe Biden and his administration have conspicuously embraced multilateralism. The...

    By Richard Fontaine & Jared Cohen

  • Commentary
    • The National Interest
    • September 25, 2017
    The Problem with 'the Best of Intentions' Foreign Policy

    The nineteenth-century Germans focused so much on philosophy partly in order not to compete with the protean genius of Goethe, who had dominated all the other literary genres ...

    By Robert D. Kaplan

    • Commentary
    • The Wall Street Journal
    • August 24, 2016
    Australia’s Ambivalence Makes It Vulnerable

    With Washington’s rising focus on Asia, America’s close and longstanding alliance with Australia has taken on new significance. Australia today is boosting its military streng...

    By Richard Fontaine

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia