Venezuela. The year was characterized by continued major financial problems. In six weeks, from the beginning of September to the middle of October, the price of oil fell by a full 16%. Oil, which accounts for 97% of the country’s export revenue and 45% of the state budget, is still Venezuela’s most important export product and the basis for the political project that started in 1998 with President Hugo Chávez. In addition, Finance Minister Rodolfo Marco Torres counted in the budget that was presented at the end of October, with a growth rate well above and an inflation rate well below that of foreign analysts. The price increases had led to widespread smuggling of cheaper food from neighboring Colombia and a vibrant black market.
According to Countryaah.com, Venezuela population in 2020 is estimated at 28,435,951. A direct consequence of galloping inflation, which was higher per month than inflation per year in several comparable countries in the region, was increased poverty. According to figures published by the National Statistical Institute at the beginning of the year, in 2013 the proportion of poor people had risen from 25% the previous year to 32%.
The economic problems inevitably had political repercussions. In mid-May there were violent demonstrations in support of the government in the negotiations between the government and the opposition organized within the framework of the Union of South American States (UNASUR). One hundred people were arrested by police. In protest against the violence and the government’s alleged unwillingness to really achieve results, the opposition withdrew from the already drawn negotiations. Three of the nine parties in the opposition alliance Democratic Alliance Assembly (MUD) did not participate in the negotiations; including the People’s Party (VP) after one of its party members was imprisoned for violent incitement to coup d’état against a people-elected government.
In February, rumors circulated of a coup attempt by military forces. However, senior officers explained that the military as an institution remained loyal to the constitution and the elected government. In November, a former congressman was charged with suspicion of involvement in a murder plot against President Nicolás Maduro. Relations with the United States remained problematic.
In July, former intelligence officer Hugo Carvajal was arrested on the Dutch island of Aruba and risked being surrendered to the US, where he was accused of involvement in drug smuggling. But through an agreement between Venezuela and the Netherlands, he was released and returned to his home country. President Maduro’s offer that the two countries would reciprocate their ambassadors, however, had to be called by the United States.
Despite the laborious economic situation, President Maduro’s position as Hugo Chávez’s successor was uncontested, and in July he was re-elected leader of the Venezuelan Socialist Party (PSUV).
Venezuela – Caracas
Caracas, capital of Venezuela; 1. 9 million residents (2012). Caracas is located in a valley between the Litoral Mountains and the Serranía del Interior, just south of the Caribbean Sea. Caracas is a metropolitan area that includes five cities in the state of Miranda. The climate is mild with dry summers and rainy winters. The city is the country’s commercial, cultural and industrial center. The industry is dominated by the wood, food and construction industries. The traffic situation is difficult, and constant congestion occurs on the crowded streets. There is only one stretch of rail, to the south-east. Two major motorways leave from Caracas, partly to Ciudad Bolívar, partly to the border with Colombia and further to Cúcuta (Pan-American Highway). The city has a subway; the first section was commissioned in 1983. An international airport is located on the coast 28 km from the city.
Caracas is the country’s education center. In addition to the University of Caracas (main university, 1725) is noted Simón Bolívar University (1970), a Catholic university and technical and medical colleges. The city has several large museums, libraries and art galleries.
Very little of the colonial era has been preserved. The cityscape is dominated by modern, tall office and retail buildings and wide traffic routes. Oil revenues, especially in the 1950s, gave rise to a whole new development, with highways, skyscrapers and luxury neighborhoods, but also to hut buildings, ranchos, on the surrounding mountain slopes. Of individual buildings should be highlighted the office building Edificio Polar (1953–54) inspired by Mies van der Rohe’s architecture by the architects Vegas Pacheco and José Miguel Galia as well as Carlos Raúl Villanueva’s buildings for the university. stadium (1950–52), Aula Magna and Plaza Cubierta (1952–53).
Caracas was founded in 1567 by the Spanish Diego de Losada, who after the Caracas Indians gave the city the name Santiago de Léon de Caracas. In 1577, Caraca became the capital of the province of Venezuela. The city’s position was strengthened during the 18th century thanks to cocoa exports, and by 1810 it had about 50,000 residents. Two extensive earthquakes, 1755 and 1812, destroyed much of the old Caracas, and the population stagnated during most of the 19th century. Caracas, the birthplace of Simon Bolívar, became the independent capital of Venezuela in 1830.
During the 20th century, Caracas has expanded greatly; a large proportion of the population comes from Europe, Colombia and other South American countries. The city was shaken in 1989 by heavy riots and looting in connection with the new government’s tough austerity measures.