Case 312 - Polarization in Venezuela: The Battle Between Hugo Chavez and the Opposition
Nelson, Brian A.
This case study examines the roots of Venezuela’s political polarization by focusing on the short-lived April 2002 coup against President Hugo Chávez. After describing the country’s oil wealth and the two-party system that controlled Venezuela for the 40 years prior to Chávez’s election, it then details the coup and its aftermath, which actually consolidated Chávez’s position. The study concludes with an examination of documents released in 2004 showing that the United States had prior knowledge of the coup, as well as a reflection on what the future may hold for Venezuela. It is appropriate for undergraduate and graduate courses in world politics, international political economy, development assistance, foreign policy analysis, U.S. foreign policy, and Latin American studies.