Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s column Venezuela’s Maduro Won’t Give Up Power was written for Wall Street Journal in the context of Venezuelan President’s words, who is not going to allow his United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) to leave power even in the case of defeat on upcoming national assembly elections. While the economy of the South American country suffers greatly due to its government incompetence as well as reduction of oil revenues, the president is determined to continue his course, and the journalist admits that Venezuelan democracy is dead. Despite the political protests, Maduro’s low approval rating (Ulmer par. 1) and international criticism, he is going further on his way to despotism.
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The article describes current problems of Venezuela and the region struggles in general. O’Grady regards the words of Secretary General of Organization of American States Luis Almagro, who criticize Maduro’s decision to stay in power. She admits that existence of such critics is a “cause for celebration” (O’Grady par. 5) itself while she doubts Almagro’s principles. It is more likely that he is afraid to lose some personal interests. The columnist also compares current economic challenges Venezuela facing with the similar ones back in 2009, when oil prices dropped as well. She emphasizes that Maduro’s predecessor Hugo Chavez dealt with by the way of political repressions (O’Grady par. 3)
According to Joel Midgal’s renown book Strong Societies and Weak States Maduro is facing the ruler’s dilemma. While his country suffers from economical problems such as inflation, shortages of essential goods and oil dependency, the only way to overcome such struggles is to achieve social mobilization, which in turn is impossible without strong and independent social institutions; though creating such agencies would weaken his power.
Midgal’s book, however, seems to be obsolete, and his arguments about the relationship between the state and society were challenged by present-day researchers (Muslu 3). Midgal’s prime example of the mobilized state is Nasser’s Egypt (Midgal 197). While this Egyptian socialist president was able to reform the state in several meaningful ways like health care and education, he still faced major struggles further as the state’s role in Egyptian’s life only increased. It is worth noting that Nasser’s rule occurred in times of USSR’s peak power. Back then socialism was a force to be reckoned with, whilst nowadays there is an opinion that “implementation of dim bulb socialism is worse for a country than actual civil war” (Worstall par. 4). Countries like Venezuela and Cuba are failed rogue states, which have no real allies.
Their rulers are accustomed to fooling their people, accusing capitalist countries in their troubles. Maduro’s approval rating indicates this statement as it has grown for while, when the USA have implemented sanctions on him. While having no allies, rogue countries still may have business partners, but Venezuela has failed even here, as its economy is completely dependent on oil prices. Previously Chavez and Maduro were able to “buy friends” with the oil wealth while the country shown significant GDP growth. The situation has changed and, as Almagro’s words indicate, international discord will only exacerbate Venezuela’s internal issues.
In my opinion, there is no way for Maduro to cede his power. Neither will he reform the country in any significant way, as doing so he will be unable to blame capitalism for all the ills anymore. There are also very few rich people in Venezuela, who are capable of mobilizing the poor majority. Thus, it seems that the country will sink in continuous depression, and even sudden rise of the oil prices would not change much.
Midgal, Joel S. Strong Societies and Weak States: State-Society Relations and State Capabilities in the Third World. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988. Print.
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Muslu, Faith. Strong State vs. Weak Society. 2015. Web.
O’Grady, Mary A. Maduro Won’t Give Up Power, Wall Street Journal. 2015. Web.
O’Grady, Mary A. Dictatorship for Dummies, Wall Street Journal. 2009. Web.
Worstall, Tim A. Congratulations To Bolivarian Socialism: Venezuela’s Inflation Rate Is 808%, Forbes. 2015. Web.
Ulmer, Alexandra A. Popularity of Venezuela’s Maduro inches down to 24.3 percent, Reuters. 2015. Web.