Embattled Venezuela Can Still Count on International Lifelines, From Russia to China

Embattled Venezuela Can Still Count on International Lifelines, From Russia to China
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting in Istanbul, Turkey, October 10, 2016 (Sputnik photo by Alexei Druzhinin via AP).

Venezuelans endured a particularly difficult year in 2016. Inflation skyrocketed; scarcities lingered; crime continued to soar; and the Venezuelan currency plummeted, albeit with a bit of a December rebound as OPEC cut oil production levels and the government eliminated its 100-bolivar note, its largest and most-used bill. The year offered little respite for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, too. The opposition, which has controlled the National Assembly for the past year, continued to press for a recall referendum, while many political actors abandoned the dialogue mediated by the Vatican. Beyond the country’s borders, conservative governments replaced leftist ones in Argentina and Brazil, and the Common Market of the South, or Mercosur, suspended Venezuela after months of infighting within the bloc.

These difficulties will surely persist in 2017, raising the stakes for Maduro. But the Venezuelan government is far from isolated, and the embattled president can still count on support from abroad. He maintains key relationships within and beyond Latin America, from Bolivia and Cuba to China and Russia.

The main narrative in Latin American politics throughout 2016 was the return of the right. In Argentina, more than a decade of leftist governments under the Kirchners—the late President Nestor Kirchner and his wife, former President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner—ended in late 2015 with the election of conservative President Mauricio Macri. Upon his victory, Macri instituted several free market-oriented policies, including the elimination of export taxes on several products, a reduction of tariffs on soy, and income tax reductions. Next door in Brazil, the right-wing opposition removed beleaguered President Dilma Rousseff from office in what many observers considered an undemocratic maneuver. That ushered Michel Temer into power, who has cut public spending and ushered in a period of harsh austerity.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.