Demographics and economic geography
State of South America. At the last official statistical survey of 2011, the population was equal to 28,946,101 residents, Mainly concentrated in the urban areas of the northern regions, including that of Caracas: on the same date, the city reached 2.1 million residents, 2.9 million the agglomeration and 4.4 million the metropolitan region; in 2014, according to an estimate by UNDESA (United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs), the residents were 30,851,343. Overall, the urban population was approximately 94% of the total (2013), with a density of 32 residents / km2. Demographic trends are typical of developing countries, with a still high birth rate (19.8 ‰ in 2013), a low mortality (5.3 ‰), a high percentage of young people: 28.2 % of the population is under the age of 14 and 18.8% is between the ages of 15 and 24. For Venezuela 2015, please check dentistrymyth.com.
Although Venezuela is among the countries with the highest per capita income at purchasing power parity (PPP) in Latin America ($ 17,917 in 2014) and although the government has invested large sums in the last decade to ensure the ‘access of marginal segments of the population to social services, obtaining a significant reduction in poverty, even today 31.6% of Venezuelans live below this threshold. Among the immediate objectives, in addition to relaunching the economy, safety, threatened by the continuous escalation of crime in large cities, especially Caracas, considered one of the most dangerous metropolises in the world, where the murder rate exceeds 70 per 1000 residents.
The high oil prices had favored the growth of the Venezuelan economy, which then suffered the repercussions of the international financial crisis that began in 2008, still showing greater difficulty in recovering than in other Latin American countries. To this already difficult situation was added the recent drop in the price of crude oil, which slipped below $ 50 per barrel, which pushed Venezuela (like many other oil countries) to the brink, for the twofold reason that they dropped. the entry in dollars, derived from the export of crude oil, and it has become more difficult to meet the debt repayment deadlines. In addition, the production, managed by the state company PDVSA (Petróleos De Venezuela, SA), is falling (135 million tons produced in 2013, compared to 171 in 2006), and the country is facing an inflation that is now out of control (over 50% per year), favored by the repeated devaluations of the national currency, the bolívar, made to try to improve the state accounts. Recently, to face the economic depression, Venezuela has found an ally in Russia.
Among other critical issues, the country has to deal with corruption and the underworld, encouraged by the enormous and uncontrolled power of the political class close to the regime, especially in the management of the real engine of the Venezuelan economy, namely the energy sector (consumption Venezuelans are over 85% dependent on oil and natural gas). As regards other productive activities, the main food crops are not sufficient to meet national needs and the scarcity of basic products is beginning to become evident. The delays and inefficiencies in the hydroelectric sector, which have caused extensive blackouts in a large part of the country, also affect the industrial sector, which is sometimes forced to work at a reduced pace.
The years at the turn of the first decade of the 21st century. they continued to be characterized in Venezuela by a strong polarization of the political scene, divided between the supporters of the socialist president Hugo Chávez Frías and his opponents. Chávez’s governments assumed the typical features of Latin American populist systems: his supporters highlighted the expansion of social rights and the political participation of the less well-off classes; critics, on the other hand, emphasized its tendency to centralize powers and to use public resources and state media to gain support. After re-election at the end of 2006, Chávez devoted himself to completing the nationalization plan, primarily in the field of energy and telecommunications: the government took control of the oilfield in the Orinoco through the company PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela, SA). On 2 December 2007 a referendum rejected, with 51% of opinions against, the reform of the Constitution, already approved by the National Assembly, which would have canceled the limit on the number of presidential mandates, canceled the autonomy of the Central Bank and introduced new rules to declare a state of emergency. In February 2009, however, with 54.4% of the votes in favor, another referendum approved the removal of the limits to the re-eligibility of institutional offices.
Despite the repercussions of the global economic crisis, in the 2010 parliamentary elections the chavista PSUV (Partido Socialista Unido de Venezuela) won 48.2% (98 seats), but also the MUD (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática), the cartel of opposition parties. Before the new National Assembly came into operation (Jan 2011), on December 16, 2010 Chávez obtained from the Parliament the right to pass laws by decree for 18 months. The presidential elections of October 2012 were again won by Chávez (55.25%), seriously ill with cancer, against the opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski (44.13%). After the victory, Chávez went to Cuba for treatment and left the management of the country to Nicolás Maduro, vice president and foreign minister.
Between February and March 2014, Maduro’s government – weaker than Chávez’s – entered a critical phase, characterized by numerous and violent street demonstrations (guarimbas) demanding his resignation. They were led by the leader of the right-wing party Voluntad popular (VD) Leopoldo López, already condemned for participating in the 2002 coup against Chávez, and organized mainly by members of the middle and upper classes, including many university students: they died there. dozens of people including opposition protesters, Chavista militants killed in cold blood, civilians and soldiers; nearly two hundred people were arrested and some members of the police were indicted for mistreating detained demonstrators. López was arrested and then sentenced, in September 2015, to nearly fourteen years in prison for inciting violence and promoting destabilizing plans. Unión de Naciones Suramericanas) and the Vatican – and as divisions within the MUD worsened, anti-government protests faded in the second half of 2014.
Colombians return to their homeland by crossing the Tachira River
In 2015, the constant lowering of the price of oil deeply affected the Venezuelan economy: the government guaranteed the continuation of social policies only by cutting so-called luxury consumption. In February 2015, the Maduro government announced that it had foiled a new coup attempt, in which Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma was also involved. At the same time, the street clashes against the government resumed, which however lasted a few days: the road that would lead to the legislative elections of 6 December 2015 was, however, promised to be fraught with difficulties.
In foreign policy, tense relations with Colombia, which accused Chávez of protecting the FARC guerrillas (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia), improved from the second half of 2010, after the election of the new Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos Calderon. In addition to cultivating intense relations with Russia, China and Irān, Chávez’s commitment to greater political and economic integration of Latin America was constant, as evidenced by the admission of Venezuela in MERCOSUR (MERcado COmún del SUR) after a long negotiated (July 2012) and the importance attributed to the Petrocaribe alliance – aimed at supplying Caribbean countries with oil on favorable terms – and to ALBA-TCP (Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América-Tratado de Comercio de los Pueblos), an economic and social cooperation organization to which, in addition to Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and other Caribbean republics belong.
However, relations with the United States remained very tense, especially after the US ambassador was declared an unwelcome person (Sept. 2008) and that some US diplomats, accused of having fomented the protests of 2014, were expelled from the country. In December 2014, the US decided on sanctions (freezing of assets and refusal of visas) against some Venezuelan government officials accused of violating the rights of demonstrators. In 2014, relations with Colombia also became more difficult, due to the trafficking of currency, petrol and food stolen from the Venezuelan subsidized market by Colombian mafias in the border areas between the two countries and resold on the black market. These appropriations were at the origin of a general food shortage and, after the wounding of some border soldiers (August 2015), Maduro declared “a constitutional state of emergency” and closed, in some parts of the state of Táchira, the borders between the two countries. Within days, hundreds of tons of illegally hoarded goods were seized. However, a diplomatic crisis opened between Venezuela and Colombia with the withdrawal of their respective ambassadors: the crisis ended after a few weeks, but the agreement could not be considered definitive.