LA dictators and local GDP, Venezuela’s case

The petroleum sector dominates Venezuela mixed economy, accounting for roughly a third of GDP, around 80% of exports and more than half of government revenues.

Gold, diamonds and iron ore are mined as well. Venezuela contains some of the largest oil and natural gas reserves in the world. It consistently ranks among the top ten crude oil producers in the world.

In February 1992 Hugo Chávez, an army paratrooper, staged a coup d’état attempt seeking to overthrow the government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez. Chávez failed and was placed in jail. Chávez was acquitted in March 1994 by president Rafael Caldera.

In 1998, Chávez was elected president after a vigorous campaign, in contrast with the feeble discourse of the weakened traditional parties’ candidates.

His reform program, which he later called the “Bolivarian Revolution”, was aimed at redistributing the benefits of Venezuela’s oil wealth to the lower socio-economic groups by using it to fund programs such as health care and education.

The programs has encountered great criticism by the previous establishment. In April 2002 he suffered a coup d’état. He was returned to power after two days as a result of popular demonstrations in his favour and actions by the military.

Chávez has also survived an all-out national strike that lasted more than two months in December 2002 – February 2003, including a strike/lockout in the state oil company PDVSA, and a recall referendum in August 2004.

He was elected for another term in December 2006.

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