American Diplomacy
Commentary and Analysis
March 2014

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Venezuelan Crisis
by Amb. (ret.) Patrick Duddy

Since mid February, Venezuela has been gripped by the most wide spread anti-government demonstrations the country has seen in more than a decade. Initially dominated by students, the demonstrations reflected deep frustration with the government’s failure to control alarmingly high inflation, widespread shortages of food items, medical supplies and newsprint, difficulty in securing hard currency and extraordinary levels of criminal violence. The government of Nicolas Maduro, who was sworn in as president after a disputed special election victory last April following the death of Hugo Chavez, characterized the demonstrators as “fascists” allied with right wing elements in exile and encouraged by the U.S. government. The government has responded to anti-government rallies with bully boy tactics. After more than four weeks of clashes, which have left more than two dozen dead and hundreds injured, the country appears to be subsiding into a sullen stand-off in which the proximate reasons for the prolonged crisis are all growing worse. Throughout this period, Maduro and others in his administration have regularly blamed the U.S. for the rising levels of discontent and reacted with outrage when U.S. officials have called on the government to refrain from violence, respect the political rights of Venezuelan citizens and to offer a real dialogue. For its part, the Venezuelan government has sought to bi-lateralize the crisis, even announcing formation of a special commission to engage the U.S. To date the Obama administration has refused to be drawn into what is clearly a disingenuous effort to shift the blame for Venezuela’s many internal problems from the government to the colossus of the north they generally refer to as the empire.bluestar

Links to interview:
Ex-Ambassador Explains The Paradox That Led To Crisis In Venezuela

Why America Doesn't Need Venezuela Like It Used To

American Diplomacy is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to American Diplomacy.

Author Ambassador (ret.) Patrick Duddy, a member of the Board of American Diplomacy, served as the last U.S. ambassador to Venezuela from 2007 until 2010. Immediately prior to that assignment he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Western Hemisphere. Over the course of a long career he also served in Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Paraguay as well as in Washington. He is presently a visiting faculty member at Duke University where he teaches in both the Sanford School of Public Policy and the Fuqua School of Business.   He and his wife, Mary Huband Duddy, now live in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo credit: Dan Smith. thePhotosmith.com

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