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Venezuela and Haiti today hardly qualify as democracies

From The Inter American Dialogue

15.07.05 | Cuba is the only Latin American country that remains under authoritarian rule. But Venezuela and Haiti today hardly qualify as democracies. In many other Latin American nations—Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, for example—democratic rule is precarious and under continuing threat.

In Venezuela, President Hugo Chávez’s six-year-old government has sharply restricted democratic competition and badly damaged the nation’s representative institutions. To be sure, Chávez maintains a significant measure of popular support and has managed to win a long series of elections, including last year’s all-important referendum on whether he should remain in office. But he has eliminated most checks on his power and stifled the activities of opposition groups.

He has packed the Supreme Court with his supporters, harassed civil society groups, and secured congressional approval for laws curtailing freedom of the press. His rule has divided the country and could yet provoke open political strife. Venezuela, moreover, is a potential source of regional instability. As long as oil prices remain high, Chávez will have the resources to stir up further the already unsettled politics of neighboring countries.

Read the Dialogue's report here.

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