Taking the 'Competitive' out of 'Competitive Authoritarianism'

It took 17 years, but Freedom House just made it official. Venezuela is not free.

Maduro no es Chávez, that much we’re clear on. One had the gripping charisma, intelligence and cunning that allowed him to progressively shut down Venezuelan democracy while maintaining a huge fan base (both here and abroad). The other one talks with little birds and has managed to completely change the foreign perception regards la Revolución Bolivariana in less than four years.

Maduro isn’t Chávez, alright. Without Chávez ability to negotiate the dividing line between a military dictatorship and a populist democracy, the quirky and tropical experiment of acompetitive authoritarianism” has simply become your everyday authoritarianism and international rankings are finally catching up.

Now, after seventeen years of chavismo, Freedom House has officially changed our status from a “partly free” country to “not free.” Bonus: There are only two “not free” countries in all of the Americas, with Cuba being the other one, of course.

The fact that for the first time in forever the government shied away from the elections that were routinely used to legitimize itself and the complete shutdown of the National Assembly were the straws that broke the camel’s back, as far as Freedom House is concerned.

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro’s combination of strong-arm rule and dire economic mismanagement pushed his country to a status of Not Free for the first time in 2016. Venezuela had served as a model for populist regimes in the region, but today it epitomizes the suffering that can ensue when citizens are unable to hold their leaders to account […]its political rights rating declined from 5 to 6, due to efforts by the executive branch and the politicized judiciary to curtail the power of the opposition-controlled legislature, including a series of court rulings that invalidated new laws, usurped legislative authority to review the national budget, and blocked legislative efforts to address the country’s economic and humanitarian crisis.

Oy. Vey.

Transparency International also placed us in the bottom 10 of its Corruption Perception Index 2016. That’s right, we are number 166 out of 176 countries, and only Guinea-Bisau, Afghanistan, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, North Korea, South Sudan and Somalia managed to surpass us. This coupled up with the IMF prediction of inflation soaring to 1,600% and all we can do is prenderle una velita a Vallita a get ready for the ride towards a very dicta-dura.