Season’s Greetings from the VPHR Team

2013 has been a demanding year for Venezuela analysts. From the passing of President Hugo Chávez, to the contested April election, to the recent municipal elections, the pace of politics has been brisk. Throw in a prison riot, economic turbulence, and l’affaire Snowden, and the pace has been torrid. It has been an honor for us to be in a position to facilitate understanding of these events. and we have been flattered by your readership.

Unless something really big happens we aspire to take the next couple of weeks off. But rest assured that we will be keeping tabs on events, tweeting at @dsmilde and @hphernaiz and writing again starting in the first week of January.

The following are some of the issues we will be keeping an eye on.

Will the government continue its “economic offensive” of forced price cuts? Will merchants be willing and able to restock their inventories? Will the government see this as an opportunity to increase its participation in production, distribution, and retailing of consumer goods? How will the government address the over-inflated exchange rate? Will it devalue the official rate or carry out a “stealth devaluation” by moving most everything over to the SICAD auction system?

Having gained some political space within his coalition, will Maduro now continue to radicalize (i.e., go with what worked for him in November and December) or instead use his political capital to moderate? Will the “Plan de la Patria” amount to anything, i.e., serve as a guide to radical reform, or be set aside as the government addresses more urgent challenges?

Will there be any shake-ups in the opposition coalition inside or around the Mesa de la Unidad? Will there be any moves against Capriles’ leadership by rivals such as Leopoldo López or María Corina Machado, or by members of the old guard, such as Henry Ramos Allup or Antonio Ledezma?

And of course these political developments will be shot through with WOLA’s core human rights issues such as citizen security, freedom of expression, democratic participation and social justice.

On behalf of Hugo Pérez Hernáiz, Rebecca Hanson, Timothy Gill and the supporting cast of characters at WOLA, we wish you all a happy holiday season and an excellent new year. 

David Smilde