Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro. (AP)


LatAm in Focus: A Decade of Nicolás Maduro

By Guillermo Zubillaga

Bloomberg’s Fabiola Zerpa and Amherst College’s Javier Corrales discuss the Venezuelan leader’s bleak record as the country prepares for 2024 elections.

It’s been 10 years. The death of Hugo Chávez placed Nicolás Maduro at the head of Venezuela’s government, where he carried on a legacy defined by strong executive power and state control over the economy. Despite several opposition attempts to get Maduro out, he’s remained in control, and March 5, 2023 marks a decade of his leadership.

Fabiola Zerpa

Maduro’s presidency has played witness to mass discontent that has transcended socioeconomic strata. “[In 2014] you could hear people banging pots and throwing molotovs in the east and the west, and clashing with the police and the military,” says Caracas-based Bloomberg reporter Fabiola Zerpa.  

In this episode, Zerpa joined Amherst College political scientist Javier Corrales in a conversation with AS/COA’s Venezuela Working Group head Guillermo Zubillaga, as they explore the past and future of a regime marked by hyperinflation, irregular elections, and a mass exodus of 7 million people.

How has a government responsible for such heavy economic and political crises maintained control for so long? “We have the feeling that the rise of autocrats automatically unites the opposition, but the more typical equilibrium is the opposite,” says Corrales, explaining how the Maduro regime works to divide political opposition movements and consolidate power. 

But democratic drivers have refused to give up. “There is a story here of hope,” Corrales says. In the face of widespread political repression and a disjointed opposition, civil society lives on and Venezuelans still want to affect change.

"Despite all the mistakes that the opposition has made, the Venezuelan case … is an example of a country where democratic forces refuse to die.” —Javier Corrales

For both guests, the key to getting there will be elections. “Time and time again, when polls are conducted and results are not favoring the opposition, the Venezuelan electorate wants to vote,” Zerpa says. “Elections motivate people in Venezuela.”

Latin America in Focus Podcast

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This podcast was produced by Executive Producer Luisa Leme, as well as Jon Orbach.

Text by Abby Arndt.

The music in this podcast is “Zumba Cum Laude” by C4 Trío for Americas Society. Watch the performance.

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