Newly Elected Anti-Chavez Opposition Will Bring Positive Changes to Venezuela

​While South America has been in economic slowdown in recent years, the continent appears to be moving forward, both politically and economically.  Last month in the Argentinean elections, Mauricio Macri, a conservative businessman, won the presidential election insisting he would rewrite the playbook on the country’s economy.

Many of us remember Venezuela for the government’s part in violent attacks on protestors in 2014, the “S.O.S. Venezuela” movement, record high inflation, and food shortages. This December, voting lines were long, particularly in troubled areas, where frustration with the faltering economy and crime has been growing.  In response to these malignant problems, on December 6th 2015, the people spoke and after 17 years of socialist oppression initiated by the late President Hugo Chavez, the tides have changed for the better.

The Anti-Chavez Opposition took control of the National Assembly by a landslide. This marks the first major shift in power since Chavez took office in 1999. The Democratic Unity Roundtable (known by its Spanish acronym MUD) took 99 seats while the United Social Party of Venezuela (known by its Spanish acronym PSUV) won just 46 seats. At this time, 22 seats are still too close to call.

While voters celebrated the victory, President Nicolas Maduro acknowledged the opposition’s win, saying that notwithstanding an adverse result, Venezuela’s democracy and constitution had triumphed.

This is a win for the people of Venezuela. The election just goes to show the power of peaceful change through means such as voting and protests. While this is only the beginning and Maduro is still in power, the new assembly now has the power to rewrite Chavez’s 1999 constitution, call a referendum against the president or other congress members, and pass an amnesty law to free political prisoners.

Still, it must be noted that Maduro’s grip in other areas of the government means he could undoubtedly bypass a hostile congress.  Additionally, it is an uphill battle to fix a long list of problems that are not completely due to political agendas, which the Opposition may not be equipped to handle. As MUD stated, “[we] haven’t succeeded in uniting around a common vision on how to govern, beyond confronting Manduro.”

The election results are significant not only from a human rights or political view, but this also means positive changes in international business and immigration matters. Venezuela is an oil giant but currently faces major economic inflation, a crippling recession and a rise in violence and insecurity.

Nevertheless, the shift in power and coming changes will likely end the “soft sanctions” on Venezuela, renew faith in international investors to invest in the nation, and open the doors to trade. All of these coming changes will help lift Venezuela out of economic instability.

Now what does this mean for the U.S.? – Revitalizing the economies of Venezuela and other similarly situated nations means greater ability for those nations to import and export, as well as attract international investors.  As the majority of all South American trade passes through Miami, Florida, the U.S. stands to benefit and grow as these economies grow.

Specifically in Venezuela, as market confidence improves, the nation will only continue to prosper and inflation will likely stabilize.  Venezuela is the 5th largest oil producer in the world and it’s oil revenues account for about 95 per cent of export earnings, however, record low oil prices are a major reason for the weak economy. As the nation has a limited export market, Venezuela’s economy has seen decline in the past several years, particularly since its fiscal strength and government funds are tied to the export of oil.

During Chavez’s rule when the price of oil was high, Venezuela instituted costly social welfare programs funded by the oil industry.  Unfortunately, with the price of oil consistently falling, those programs have become unsustainable. According to International Business Times, MUD will likely push to diversify Venezuela’s economy away from oil, the country’s main export.

Additionally, business related immigration would likely improve due to better diplomatic relations and intertwining of the economies.

All in all, the results of the 2015 Venezuelan election indicate dynamic positive changes are on their way, not only for Venezuela, but also for the U.S. and Latin America as a whole. So long as the PSUV and Maduro continue to gracefully accept the MUD supermajority in National Assembly and everyone begins to work together to move away from socialism and government oppression, Venezuela may slowly come out of darkness.

By: Kelly Lynn O’Connell