GIS Dossier: Corruption and political transformation
Graft has long been a feature of political systems where rewarding loyalty takes precedence over economic efficiency or the rule of law. But recent events in Latin America show that popular anger at corruption has become a force to be reckoned with – fueled by the power of global markets, the information revolution, and democratization movements. This report assesses the geopolitical implications.
Opinion: Venezuela’s endless endgame
Bankrupt and in an economic freefall, Venezuela has become the scene of a humanitarian drama. The opposition is finally unified and appears close to being able to push the die-hard Chavista regime out. Much of the outside world, including Latin America, Europe and the United States, is eager to help, but the devil, as always, is in the detail.
VIDEO: Venezuela: How not to run an oil sector | GIS: Global Trends Video Reports
Venezuela stands out among oil producing countries for its contradictions. Though it sits on the world’s largest proven oil reserves, it is not even among the top 10 producers. It has more than a century of experience with the oil industry, yet in recent years it has become a textbook example of the oil curse. It was a key player in the establishment of OPEC, but today it has little influence within the organization. Once an industry leader, it now holds many lessons for other governments on how not to run their oil sectors. In a nutshell, Venezuela has become a sad story of how bad policies and shortsighted governments can squander the family silver.
Venezuela: How not to run an oil sector
Venezuela sits on the world’s largest oil reserves but it is not even one of the top 10 global oil producers – and output is falling sharply. Socialist, resource-nationalist policies implemented by former President Hugo Chavez – and continued by President Nicolas Maduro today – are behind the country’s poor performance. With an utter economic dependence on oil, the country has become destitute. Only a drastic change in policy can reverse Venezuela’s course.
Opinion: Pieces still not in place for Maduro’s fall
Venezuela’s crisis will only end when there is a clear exit path for President Nicolas Maduro and his cohorts, and a unified, viable opposition that could take power. So far, neither of those have materialized, meaning Venezuela’s crisis will likely not end anytime soon. When it does, it will be with the help of another country in the region, potentially Cuba or Mexico
China’s profile is rising in Latin America
As China’s growing economy made it an increasingly important player in Latin America, Beijing kept a low profile. Now, it can no longer avoid the spotlight. In Chile, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil and Cuba, its position as a customer, financier and investor is leading to some complicated challenges. The question now is how assertive it will become in imposing its will on these countries – and how they and the U.S. will react.
Corruption in Latin America
The Odebrecht scandal, which started off as the Petrobras scandal in Brazil, has sent ripple effects throughout Latin America. It has brought down some regimes and even landed powerful leaders in jail. Perhaps the most important result is voters’ distrust of the traditional political forces. Unsurprisingly, parties in power are set to lose several elections, and in some countries, “outsider” candidates claiming to clean up corruption are leading in the polls.