The Venezuelan National Bolivarian Armed Forces (Fuerzas Armadas Nacionales Bolivarianas, FANB) are among the most politicized in the Americas. While this has helped maintain President Nicolás Maduro in power, it is damaging for both the military and citizens. Specifically, while politicization helps bolster the government’s permanence it undermines the military’s institutional legitimacy.
Conspiracy theories are present in politics everywhere, but they do not bode well for politics anywhere. Beliefs that political outcomes are controlled by hidden forces acting contrary to the public good are inconsistent with transparency and political efficacy. Such narratives might be a symptom of failing political institutions, but their pervasiveness might also contribute to democratic failure by fostering polarization and mutual distrust.
How can we understand the regional “appeal” that the Chavista project had for years, and its more recent deceleration? In this paper, we focused on the legitimation strategies of Hugo Chávez and Chavismo, the political project, movement and regime led by Chávez, his regional allies and successors, carrying out a detailed analysis of its initiatives. Beyond the specifics, we suggested that while legitimizing his political project, Chávez claimed to address the expectations of wide sectors in the Americas, whose voice he was interpreting and expressing.
It has been a while since a strikingly populist candidate has been a major contender in a presidential election in the United States. Many think of William Jennings Bryan, the three-time nominee of the democratic party at the end of the 1800s, as one of the only other strongly populist presidential candidates in American history (Ramone, 2010). President Trump’s campaign can fairly be described as populist through his rhetoric against the elites on Capitol Hill, his appeal to working class voters, and most importantly his outsider status as a non-politician.
The Latin American left has experienced a steep decline in its fortunes in recent months. Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in Venezuela. The precipitous drop in state oil revenues and the attendant decline in the government’s ability to fund social welfare programs, coupled with triple digit inflation and severe shortages of basic necessities, have led to increasing protests and a recall effort against President Nicolás Maduro.