VENEZUELA: Research Delegation

From July 6 to July 10, The Center for Democracy in the Americas led a research delegation to Venezuela. The delegation included six legislative aides to Republican and Democratic Members of Congress. During our stay in Venezuela, we met with a crosssection of government supporters and critics, leaders of the business community and civil society, foreign journalists and representatives of foreign embassies.

With these individuals, we had rich and informative conversations, during which they expressed to us pointed and at times contradictory views of what is happening in Venezuela today.

This document reports on the substance of those conversations. In it, we respect the confidence of every person with whom we spoke, to recognize them for the candor with which their opinions were delivered. Here, we produce a record of what we learned in five critical areas:

• First, we report on Venezuela’s political life and on the concerns people have about the forthcoming reforms to the nation’s constitution.

• Second, we discuss Venezuela’s booming economy and the sustainability of their economic model going forward.

• Third, after visiting two impoverished communities, we discuss some of Venezuela’s efforts to provide economic and political empowerment to the nation’s poor.

• Fourth, after meeting with leaders of Venezuela’s political opposition, we reflect on their position nearly ten years after Hugo Chavez was elected to power.

• Fifth, we discuss what we learned from four leaders of the student movement who led protests against the government’s decision to withdraw the broadcast license of RCTV.

We conclude our report with a brief discussion on further research about Venezuela and its relationship with the United States.