# households income below poverty line (1)










Foreign investment ($MM) (2)










Unemployment (3)









(1st quarter)

Funding for Social Programs

Million Bolivars (4)










Devaluation (Bs/US$) (5)









FX control






2002         1st quarter

2002         2nd quarter

2002         3rd quarter






Economic Growth (GDP) (6)











Sources of Information:

(1) "La pobreza en el trenio 1999-2001" by Matías Riutort, Chief of the Institute of Economic and social studies. Catholic University Andres Bello (UCAB). Article available in the website of the United Nations' program for development. ; Article, also published in the Venezuelan Magazine "Temas de Coyuntura", No. 45, June 2002.

(2) Superintendencia de Inversiones Extranjeras

(3) "Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas", Venezuelan Central Bank; 2002: "CENDA, Centro de documentación y análisis de los trabajadores".

Centre of Analysis and Documentation of the Venezuelan workers; 2003: Lope Mendoza, President of "Conindustria". Published in the Journal "El Universal" on Feb. 14th 2003.

(4) Arthur D. Little. Information copied from the article "Chavez and the poor" by Juan Nagel. PhD Candidate in Economics, The University of Michigan, and Senior Economist, ApplEcon, LLC.

(5) Veneconomia.

(6) Venezuelan Central Bank.




-          Venezuela has experimented with heterodox stabilization (1985-1988), shock therapy (1989-1992), gradualism (1996-1998), reforms by executive "special powers" (early 1980s, 1993-1994, 1998), reforms by negotiations with opposition parties (1996-1998), stabilization through price controls (late 1980s and 1994-1996), deep trade liberalization (1989-1993), concessions to the economic losers from trade liberalization (1994-1998) and direct subsidies to vulnerable social sectors (1990-1992) (1,2)


-          1992 coup against President Carlos Andres Perez by Hugo Chavez. Chavez is imprisoned and latter released.


-          1998 Hugo Chavez wins elections.


-          1999 Hugo Chavez holds a national referendum to call for a Parliament. Chavez dissolves the Senate and Congress and formed a transitional National Assembly. The Assembly’s task was to draft a new constitution. This transitional Assembly is now the permanent Congress.


-          1999 Hugo Chavez holds a national referendum to approve the new constitution, which was approved.


-          Mr. Chavez failed to exercise the executive’s power on behalf of the people, and in the process, he ended the institutions that could guarantee democracy. As a result, the only branch of government left in Venezuela’s republic is the executive. Both the legislative and judiciary branches are now set up to respond to the President’s demands (3).


-          Since 2001 there have been protests, a coup and strikes that have led the country into political, economical and social turmoil.


-          With the objective to find democratic and constitutional solutions to the crisis, the Opposition (Democratic Coordinator) has been calling for referenda. Initially a Consultative Referendum was called for in 2002, which was declined because of the presence of transitional Electoral Council.


-          In May 29, 2002, and after over 6 months of a negotiation process coordinated by the OAS, the Carter Center and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and a six-nation Group of Friends – made up of Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Portugal, Spain and the United States; Mr. César Gaviria said a new agreement signed by representatives of the government and opposition benefits all Venezuelans and opens the door for a “peaceful, democratic, electoral and constitutional” outcome in the politically polarized country. (4) For full text please check .


-          After months of negotiation between government and opposition and no final agreement, the Supreme Court appoints a National Electoral Council (CNE). The Electoral Council dictates stringent regulations for the Recall referendum against President Hugo Chavez mandate.


-          November 2003, the collection of signatures for the Recall Referendum is held; the Carter Center and the OAS acted as international Observers to the signature and counting process. The CNE did not fulfill deadlines previously established to disclose the results of the process.


-          According to Súmate, a non for profit organization, in charge of the signature collection process working with the CNE, 3,183,526 valid signatures were collected, 30% over the value needed – the number of signatures needed to activate the Recall Referendum is 2,436,083 signatures (5). During the signature verification process, the CNE dictated a new law that eliminated 876,000 signatures due to irregularities in the process (use of similar handwriting when filling the signature form called planillas planas) (5).


-          On March 2, 2004, the Carter Center expressed that they “find sufficient controls” in the signature collection and verification process and that they “have had some discrepancies with the CNE over the verification criteria” (6). With the elimination of 876,000 signatures (nearly 28% of valid signatures), there are not enough signatures to activate the Recall Referendum against President Hugo Chavez.


-          The CNE has violated several articles in the constitution (7, 8). It is illegal for the CNE to define a process for collection of signatures (art 19), Article 22 of the norms on recall referenda states that only the signature is required to be a “handwritten original”, it says nothing of the corresponding data; and the most important of all is the violation of article 24 of the constitution where no retroactive regulations can be issued in any process. It is important to note that the pro-Chavez members dominate the Board of the CNE by a three to two margin (9)


-          According to Stratfor's CNE sources, many of these signatures are legitimate, and if enough pressure is applied they might be validated. OAS and Carter Center officials also are pushing hard to extend the period in which the signatures can be recertified from two to five days (10).


-          People feel cheated; think the system is unfair, that the rules should not be changed on the fly. Last Friday (February 27th, 2004), during the G-15 summit in Caracas a huge opposition demonstration was met with excessive force, two people die and 40 were injured. Since then there have been continuous protests and clashes with the military police and the National Guard. Human Rights have not been respected and over one hundred people have been jailed, some without charges or due process (9).


-          Since Friday (February 27th, 2004) there have been riots and protests countrywide. Until Sunday March 7th, 2004, there were unofficial reports of over 200 missing persons and political prisoners (11). People are claiming the rights


-         Despite all the claims to "legality," Venezuelans know well what is happening to their country. That's why they have been committing brave acts of civil disobedience at the risk of losing their lives. Last week an unarmed protestor was allegedly shot in the back by the military. Yesterday the country's ambassador to the U.N. stepped down citing his government's disrespect for human rights. It is well past time for the Free World to make an equally forceful protest against Commandante Chavez (12).


-          In view of this situation many internationally recognized institutions have published Communiqués reporting the extreme use of violence from the National Guard and the “massive violation of human rights” (13, 14).


Sources of Information:

(1)     The Venezuelan Story: Revisiting the Conventional Wisdom By Moises Naim, April 2001, Editor, Foreign Policy Magazine..

(2)     Javier Corrales "Venezuela in the 1980s, the 1990s and Beyond: Why citizen-detached parties imperil economic governance" in DRCLASNEWS, Fall 1999.

(3)     The Emerging Call, Emerging Markets Strategy – Americas December 13, 2002. Speech for a United and Democratic Venezuela, Summary.  José M. Barrionuevo, Head of Emerging Markets Strategy, Barclays Capital

(4)     OAS, May-June 2003 News.

(5)     Súmate, News.

(6)     Carter Center, News and information, March 2, 2004.

(7)     Nelson J. Socorro: “Observaciones y Comentarios sobre el conjunto de normas cosntitucionales, legales y reglamentarias que rigieron el proceso de recoleccion de firmas y la actividad del CNE en el ejercicio de sus competencies”, Jan 21, 2004.

(8)     Coordinadora Internacional de Venezuela, Venezuela: The Road to the Referendum, Feb 25, 2004.

(9)     Miguel Octavio: “Referenda and the origin of Venezuela's political crisis”,

(10)  Venezuela: Chavez Turns Up Heat Ahead of Massive Protest, A Stratfor Think Tank , Austin, Texas,  March 05, 2004

(11)   A Boyd March 7th, 2003. List of Missing persons,

(12)  Mary Anastasia O'grady, Time Is Running Out To Rescue Venezuela, the Wall Street Journal, March 5, 2004.

(13)  FOREIGN AFFAIRS COM, Opposition Denounces Fraud & Repression, To World Democracies

(14) International Secretariat - International Society for Human Rights (ISHR), Declaration of The International Society for Human Rights And Andrei Sajarov Foundation, March 4th 2004



Attached publications:




-          Venezuela: Chavez Turns Up Heat Ahead of Massive Protest, A Stratfor Think Tank , Austin, Texas,  March 05, 2004

-          FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, Opposition Denounces Fraud & Repression, To World Democracies

-          International Secretariat - International Society for Human Rights (ISHR), Declaration of The International Society for Human Rights And Andrei Sajarov Foundation, March 4th 2004.


 March 05, 2004
Austin, Texas
A Stratfor Think Tank

 Venezuela: Chavez Turns Up Heat Ahead of Massive Protest

Tensions are rising in Venezuela ahead of a planned March 6 protest against President Hugo Chavez in Caracas. Chavez has accused the Bush administration of conspiring to oust him by force, and opposition leaders say 4,000 men will guard the protesters. The government is bracing for a clash, and the Defense Ministry is suspending civilian concealed weapons permits until midnight March 14.

 Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez convened all foreign ambassadors posted in Caracas on March 5 and urged them to issue a joint statement condemning what he called repeated U.S. violations of Venezuelan sovereignty. U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela Charles Shapiro declined to attend.

Chavez's latest rhetorical broadside against Washington comes as the Bush administration seemingly is shifting toward a tougher position on Venezuela. Over the past week, several U.S. government officials -- including officers with U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) in Miami -- have warned that Chavez is responsible for the growing political tensions and violence. For the first time, some U.S. officials also are saying that
Cuban nationals disguised as Venezuelans have infiltrated all units of the Venezuelan National Guard (GN) and National Armed Forces (FAN).

Chavez addressed the foreign ambassadors one day after Venezuela's ambassador to the United Nations, Milos Alcalay, resigned in protest over what he called Chavez's human rights violations. In a nationally televised speech -- before rows of foreign diplomats -- Chavez accused U.S. President George W. Bush of participating in planning a coup that briefly toppled him in April 2002.

Chavez said he knew the Bush administration was
conspiring to end his Bolivarian Revolution because Venezuelan intelligence successfully infiltrated the CIA. He claimed to possess recorded telephone intercepts and transcripts proving that U.S. officials are giving orders to the opposition to weaken Chavez.

In a statement directed at Bush, Chavez said, "Don't continue sticking your hands in Venezuela." He also accused the Vatican of conspiring against him.

The president denied his government is using its 3-2 majority on the National Electoral Council (CNE) board of directors to block efforts to force him to confront a recall referendum. He charged yet again that the opposition is trying to perpetrate massive electoral fraud and hinted that his government soon could shut down several privately owned television stations to stop the spread of "lies" about the situation in Venezuela.

Separately, Defense Minister Gen. Jorge Garcia Carneiro said all concealed weapons permits issued to civilians in Venezuela would be suspended from 6 p.m. local time March 5 until midnight March 14. Garcia Carneiro said the suspension was intended to "provide greater protection and security to the citizenry." He denied the suspension was motivated by the anti-Chavez protest march planned for March 6. Similar anti-Chavez demonstrations reportedly will take place simultaneously in other cities.

Opposition leaders in Caracas declined to estimate how many protesters might attend the demonstration. They did say it would be protected by more than 4,000 men and would begin simultaneously at six separate staging areas before converging into a single march on Libertador Avenue toward downtown Caracas.

Eyewitnesses in Caracas told Stratfor on March 5 the city is calm, but many Venezuelans on both sides are wound up and emotional. Over the past week, anti-Chavez demonstrators in Caracas and other cities have clashed almost daily with government security forces. At least 11 people have been killed, seven are missing and feared dead, more than 1,000 have suffered injuries ranging from tear gas inhalation to gunshot wounds and more than 400 have been arrested.

Throughout Venezuela, opposition figures and people in neighborhoods where anti-Chavez sentiment is widespread have reported numerous cases of drive-bys, in which individuals on motorcycles have shot randomly into buildings and residences. In some parts of Caracas, such as Plaza Altamira, witnesses have reported sporadic sniper fire from rooftops during clashes between demonstrators and National Guard troops. Chavez and his senior officials have blamed the violence on the opposition, but European diplomatic sources tell Stratfor much of it was instigated by government forces and armed pro-Chavez civilian groups.

As opposition leaders prepare for the March 6 protest, observers in Caracas from the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Carter Center are seeking to revive the referendum process in the CNE. Highly placed sources within the CNE told Stratfor that the OAS and Carter Center are
pressuring the CNE to review the nearly 1.3 million voter signatures it set aside for recertification.

According to Stratfor's CNE sources, many of these signatures are legitimate, and if enough pressure is applied they might be validated. OAS and Carter Center officials also are pushing hard to extend the period in which the signatures can be recertified from two to five days. Officials on both sides have issued repeated appeals for calm so the process can continue democratically and peacefully. Senior U.S. State Department officials also have called on all sides to avoid violence and focus on seeking a democratic solution to the crisis.

Hotheaded factions on either side might hesitate to listen to cooler heads if a massive anti-Chavez demonstration in Caracas collides with GN and FAN troops on March 6.

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