Economic Statecraft
Venezuela Under Nicolás Maduro: A Test of Strength
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The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has been in a deep economic and political crisis for almost a decade. Both the domestic opposition and a tangible part of the international community dispute the legitimacy of its government. The country is being deprived of a large share of foreign investment and has been subjected to many sanctions by the countries of the collective West. Venezuela’s population is short of basic necessities and medications, which has led to social unrest and significant emigration.
Despite the desperate situation, the Nicolás Maduro government has managed (at least, so far) to control the political decision-making, rebuff attacks by the opposition and withstand external pressure, including the sanctions. Moreover, in 2022, the country is expected to see recovery growth, which, according to the more optimistic forecasts, could reach 20 percent. The minimum wage has been increased from $7 to $30 an hour. According to a poll by the Delphos research company, 41.6 percent of Venezuelans have noted an improvement in the social situation.

Several events converged to help even out the general dynamics in the country: a change of the US administration (Joe Biden reduced pressure on the Maduro government); the COVID-19 pandemic (the quarantine restrictions limited the public social response making protests more diffi cult); and price increases on energy resources (largely a result of the crisis in Ukraine) all mitigated the situation. At the same time, it should be noted that the authorities in Venezuela demonstrated a substantial strength. They managed to defend against the attack of the opposition without an efficient economic system, functioning government institutions or public support. This refutes many traditional ideas about the sustainability of political regimes, which suggests an in-depth analysis is in order.