Terça-feira, 19 de Março de 2013

IPRIS Viewpoints 120

Philippe Conde, "After Chavez's Death: Is Russian Presence in Venezuela at Risk?" (IPRIS Viewpoints, No. 120, March 2013).


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publicado por IPRIS às 19:47
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Terça-feira, 12 de Março de 2013

IPRIS Viewpoints 119

Sean Goforth, "Venezuela: Where Now?" (IPRIS Viewpoints, No. 119, March 2013).


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publicado por IPRIS às 15:35
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Quinta-feira, 2 de Junho de 2011

IPRIS Viewpoints 60

Portugal and Venezuela: continuity in times of change?

Paulo Gorjão

A future government of PSD/CDS-PP, in substance, is likely to maintain the approach taken by the previous government of the Socialist Party, in part because it will continue the focus of the previous government on economic diplomacy, as well as its strategy to guarantee new energy suppliers. Under normal circumstances, the goal of deepening the relationship with Venezuela will continue with the new government, perhaps with some nuances of a political nature.

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publicado por IPRIS às 17:32
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Sexta-feira, 11 de Fevereiro de 2011

Hugo Chávez, Bolivia and Ecuador

Sean Goforth, "Left behind: institutional implications of internalizing Chavismo" (Portuguese Journal of International Affairs, No. 4, Autumn/Winter 2010): 14-22.


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publicado por IPRIS às 20:40
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Sexta-feira, 3 de Setembro de 2010

The illusion of change in Venezuela

By Pedro Seabra


On September 26 Venezuelans will cast their votes in parliamentary elections for all 165 seats in the National Assembly. Given the current weakened economic situation and the growing outcry against Hugo Chávez’s latest political and economic choices, the local opposition is actively mobilizing and campaigning, seeking to present a credible and viable alternative to the Bolivarian Socialism apparatus.

Indeed, unlike in 2005 – when the opposition boycotted the electoral process – the mood appears ripe for change, especially if we take into account the political weight of the underprivileged masses, disenchanted with 11 years of Chávez’s rule, after being continuously confronted with high inflation rates and threatening crime rates. Even recent polls seem to reflect a consistent decline in the regime’s popularity.

But such enthusiasm and optimism must be balanced with a serious dose of realism. As Francisco Toro points out, Venezuelan biased-National Electoral Council is already pushing for bureaucratic obstacles that could deeply influence any electoral result, a clear advantage for Chávez’s allies. Even more, this apparent over-confidence in significant political developments appears to grossly ignore the still-powerful appeal of Chávez’s charisma and promises to his own base supporters, who have – unexpectedly, for many critics and observers – propelled and sustained his rule against all odds for more than a decade.

If anything, these elections will symbolize renewed confidence in the opposition’s capacity to present a unified front to the established forces, choosing to challenge Chávez in the ballots rather than by political omission. But ultimately, any concrete change in Venezuela is unlikely to occur anytime soon.


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publicado por IPRIS às 11:21
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Segunda-feira, 2 de Agosto de 2010

FARC's move

By Pedro Seabra


With Hugo Chávez’s rants on a roll, a border on high-alert and regional endeavours to bring all parties to the table, it was only a matter of time until Colombia’s own long-time guerrillas FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) had a word to say in all of this. They have done so, with a curious video message from top leader Alfonso Cano, apparently opening up the door to a political and peaceful way-out of the local enduring conflict – while at the same time, recurring to the usual string of accusations regarding Uribe’s government.

As in any conflict, time is of the essence, and in this case, FARC could not have chosen a better opportunity to make its move. Indeed, it comes at a time when Chávez is trying to amass regional support for comprehensive talks with the insurgents, while at the same time deflecting Colombian accusations of hosting its presence in Venezuelan territory.

Since Álvaro Uribe took office, his “democratic security policy” – with the unavoidable help of the $4.7 billion U.S. backed Plan Colombia – led to a robust surge that has essentially increased the presence of the security forces throughout the country and drove back the FARC to the Colombian jungle. Although still a credible threat, FARC’s grip is currently far form what it used to be.

Calls for a constructive engagement by newly elected-President Juan Manuel Santos will likely increase in the coming weeks, as hopes for a definitive ending to this internal strife – of significant importance to the surrounding region – will inevitably grow. But he would be wise to remain sceptic as such apparent openness only arose after military cornering and politically discrediting the narco-terrorist group. Indeed, FARC’s options are currently limited and taking advantage of the recent Chávez-Uribe rife allows for the perfect opportunity to politically present itself as a worthy negotiating actor. However, FARC’s track record has already proved such dilatory tactics wrong in numerous occasions and this time is not likely to be any different.


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publicado por IPRIS às 02:42
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Sábado, 24 de Julho de 2010

Warming up a freezing South America

By Pedro Seabra


Venezuela has cut ties with Colombia ... again. The reason? Colombia finally presented to the OEA evidence that allegedly showed 1,500 FARC elements, hiding in the Venezuelan jungle, under the harmless auspices of the Chávez government. Significant as it may be, this apparently extreme political measure – usually a sign of an impeding deeper crisis – has long lost its desired effect, especially in this particular region.

Indeed, from Colombian incursions on Ecuadorian soil to U.S. military bases agreements, inflamed call to arms and personal animosities, both countries have pretty much exhausted the “crisis rhetoric textbook” to its last breath, during the past two years. Elevated tensions have therefore always been a constant in the bilateral daily life.

As Michael Shifter points out, “this is vintage Chávez, and vintage Uribe, playing out their last act together”. No one really believes this latest episode could result in an open conflict. Although Chávez could definitely use the boost in social support, both countries now understand that they have much to lose if they choose to go down that road. The $7 billion slashed trade that resulted from the previous “severe crisis” will surely be taken into consideration.

Ultimately, this latest spat will fall on Uribe’s successor, Juan Manuel Santos – who will only take office on August 7 – to resolve. However, hopes that he will take on a more conciliatory tone towards its frequently-enraged neighbour are bound to be dashed by a good dose of realism. Chávez’s grip is fuelled by crises and unfortunately, Colombia is just over the border.


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publicado por IPRIS às 12:10
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Sábado, 17 de Julho de 2010

Discarding Chávez way too soon

By Pedro Seabra


In her latest op-ed, Frida Ghitis writes a curious, albeit not surprising, swift obituary regarding the future sustainability of the so-called ‘Chavismo’. In her view, such concept, “once believed would bring lasting relief to the poor, is becoming synonymous with power-hungry and socially divisive presidencies, heavy-handed and destructive government intervention, and brazen assaults on democracy”. On the other hand, the growing lack of regional supporters – anyone remembers ALBA? – is also quickly fading way or increasingly loosing popularity amongst the very people they claim to defend and represent. In fact, “between energy shortages, loss of jobs, out-of-control crime, and no prospects for economic recovery any time soon, Chávez's once-passionate support among the poor is gradually disappearing”.

Notwithstanding these grim prospects, one has to be realistic about it. In fact, truth be told, Hugo Chávez’s leadership has consistently proved its longevity and resilience against all odds. It has repeatedly faced Venezuelan conservative sectors – worth asking if they still exist –, nation-wide general strikes, international NGOs critics, ill-fated attempted coups and a mishandling of the country’s energetic resources, all with the same unchangeable result. Even his recent spat with the Catholic Church, isn’t likely to significantly erode his stance and will probably bow down to the never-ending list of ludicrous episodes that has characterized the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the last couple of years.

At the end of the day, it will most certainly “take many years before Chávez and other Chavista governments in Latin America take that final step into the pages of history.”

publicado por IPRIS às 00:38
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