Abstract for Presentation at 12th Annual South Florida Latin American and Caribbean Studies Conference

Socialismo Maduro o Socialismo Inmaduro: Venezuela en la Encrucijada

Recent disturbances in Venezuela are attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the democratically elected Maduro government through domestic civil unrest magnified internationally through a global online awareness campaign: #sosvenezuela. Activism directed against the government has pulled from the traditional playbook of the populist left and invited repression whilst airing grievances and uniting around a prospective new government figurehead, Leopoldo Lopez. The response by the police and military as well as para-governmental Chavista forces, such as the community militias, has thus far been swift and spectacular but has not reached a tipping point that would serve as a pretext for foreign military intervention.

The manner in which this crisis is managed will likely come to be seen as equally significant as that of the coup attempts and oil strikes of 2002 and 2003 and, to a degree, indicates the level of mobilization and commitment of the lower-classes to the Bolivarian revolutionary process. Such commitment to “el processo” is especially timely now as thus far the Maduro government has struggled to manifest the vision propounded by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela in the most recent elections. The state media thus far has explained food shortages and infrastructural problems as symptoms of foreign attempts to destabilize the regime, as was done to Chile in 1973, while the international media has framed it as an issue of a juvenile leader’s incompetency or the result of a malignant, antiquated ideology. My presentation will analyze these currently on-going events and coverage of the domestic unrest in Venezuela in an international and historical context.