Country Listing

Venezuela Table of Contents



Government: Functioning representative democratic system established in 1958 after ouster of military dictator Marcos Pérez Jiménez. Constitution of 1961 establishes federal republic of twenty states, two federal territories (Amazonas and Delta Amacuro), a Federal District (Caracas), and seventy-two island dependencies. Central government divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. President, who dominates governmental affairs, elected every five years. Presidents cannot run for reelection until two intervening terms (ten years) have passed. Carlos Andrés Pérez (1974-79, 1989-) first president reelected in post-1958 democratic era. Bicameral Congress made up of Senate and Chamber of Deputies. Members of Congress serve five-year terms, elected from party lists under proportionalrepresentation system. Judicial branch headed by Supreme Court of Justice. No state or municipal court systems; all courts federal courts.

Politics: Mainly two-party system. Democratic Action (Acción Democrática--AD), which adheres to social democratic line, opposed by Social Christian Party (Comité de Organización Política Electoral Independiente--COPEI). AD and COPEI tended to alternate in presidential elections until 1989, when AD's Pérez succeeded fellow AD member Lusinchi. Differences in ideology between AD and COPEI slight; both supported generous social programs and state-directed industrialization efforts until Pérez instituted significant reforms in 1989. COPEI's foreign policy approach somewhat more conservative than AD's. Political campaigns characterized by significant levels of expenditure, particularly on mass media.

International Relations: International outreach and leadership in forums such as United Nations and Organization of American States during 1970s diminished in 1980s as result of economic problems. Foreign policies sought to promote oil exports, to encourage democracy in other countries, and to maintain political stability in the Caribbean and South America. Unsettled border disputes with Colombia (in the Golfo de Venezuela) and Guyana. Other concerns with regard to Colombia included illegal immigration, drug trafficking, and spillover of Colombian insurgent/terrorist groups. Generally close ties with United States.

International Agreements and Membership: Party to Inter- American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (Rio Treaty) and Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America (Tlatelolco Treaty). Also member of numerous international organizations, including Organization of American States, United Nations and its specialized agencies, Andean Common Market, Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank, Latin American Integration Association, and Nonaligned Movement.

Data as of December 1990