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Venezuela (// VEN-ə-ZWAY-lə; Latin American Spanish: [beneˈswela] ⓘ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Spanish: República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continental landmass and many islands and islets in the Caribbean Sea. Venezuela comprises an area of 916,445 km2 (353,841 sq mi), and its population was estimated at 29 million in 2022. The capital and largest urban agglomeration is the city of Caracas.
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
República Bolivariana de Venezuela (Spanish)
|Motto: Dios y Federación
("God and Federation")
|Anthem: Gloria al Bravo Pueblo (Spanish)
("Glory to the Brave People")
Location on the Western Hemisphere
and largest city
|Recognized regional languages
|Federal presidential republic under a centralized authoritarian state
|Independence from Spain
|5 July 1811
• from Gran Colombia
|13 January 1830
|29 March 1845
|20 December 1999
|916,445 km2 (353,841 sq mi) (32nd)
• Water (%)
• 2023 estimate
|33.74/km2 (87.4/sq mi) (144st)
|$211.926 billion (81st)
• Per capita
|$92.210 billion (94th)
• Per capita
|Venezuelan bolívar (official)
United States dollar (de-facto recognised, unofficial)
|ISO 3166 code
The continental territory is bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Colombia, Brazil on the south, Trinidad and Tobago to the north-east and on the east by Guyana. Venezuela is a presidential republic consisting of 23 states, the Capital District and federal dependencies covering Venezuela's offshore islands. Venezuela is among the most urbanized countries in Latin America; the vast majority of Venezuelans live in the cities of the north and in the capital.
The territory of Venezuela was colonized by Spain in 1522 amid resistance from Indigenous peoples. In 1811, it became one of the first Spanish-American territories to declare independence from the Spanish and to form part of the first federal Republic of Colombia (Gran Colombia). It separated as a full sovereign country in 1830. During the 19th century, Venezuela suffered political turmoil and autocracy, remaining dominated by regional military dictators until the mid-20th century. Since 1958, the country has had a series of democratic governments, as an exception where most of the region was ruled by military dictatorships, and the period was characterized by economic prosperity. Economic shocks in the 1980s and 1990s led to major political crises and widespread social unrest, including the deadly Caracazo riots of 1989, two attempted coups in 1992, and the impeachment of a President for embezzlement of public funds charges in 1993. The collapse in confidence in the existing parties saw the 1998 Venezuelan presidential election, the catalyst for the Bolivarian Revolution, which began with a 1999 Constituent Assembly, where a new Constitution of Venezuela was imposed. The government's populist social welfare policies were bolstered by soaring oil prices, temporarily increasing social spending, and reducing economic inequality and poverty in the early years of the regime. However, poverty began to rapidly increase in the 2010s. The 2013 Venezuelan presidential election was widely disputed leading to widespread protest, which triggered another nationwide crisis that continues to this day. Venezuela has experienced democratic backsliding, shifting into an authoritarian state. It ranks low in international measurements of freedom of the press and civil liberties and has high levels of perceived corruption.
Venezuela is a developing country having the world's largest known oil reserves and has been one of the world's leading exporters of oil. Previously, the country was an underdeveloped exporter of agricultural commodities such as coffee and cocoa, but oil quickly came to dominate exports and government revenues. The excesses and poor policies of the incumbent government led to the collapse of Venezuela's entire economy. The country struggles with record hyperinflation, shortages of basic goods, unemployment, poverty, disease, high child mortality, malnutrition, severe crime and corruption. These factors have precipitated the Venezuelan refugee crisis where more than seven million people have fled the country. By 2017, Venezuela was declared to be in default regarding debt payments by credit rating agencies. The crisis in Venezuela has contributed to a rapidly deteriorating human rights situation. Venezuela is a charter member of the United Nations (UN), Organization of American States (OAS), Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), Mercosur, Latin American Integration Association (LAIA) and Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI).
According to the most popular and accepted version, in 1499, an expedition led by Alonso de Ojeda visited the Venezuelan coast. The stilt houses in the area of Lake Maracaibo reminded the Italian navigator, Amerigo Vespucci, of the city of Venice, Italy, so he named the region Veneziola, or "Little Venice". The Spanish version of Veneziola is Venezuela.
Martín Fernández de Enciso, a member of the Vespucci and Ojeda crew, gave a different account. In his work Summa de geografía, he states that the crew found Indigenous people who called themselves the Veneciuela. Thus, the name "Venezuela" may have evolved from the native word.
Evidence exists of human habitation in the area now known as Venezuela from about 15,000 years ago. Tools from this period have been found on the high riverine terraces of the Rio Pedregal in western Venezuela. Late Pleistocene hunting artifacts, including spear tips, have been found at a similar series of sites in northwestern Venezuela known as "El Jobo"; according to radiocarbon dating, these date from 13,000 to 7,000 BC.
It is not known how many people lived in Venezuela before the Spanish conquest; it has been estimated at one million. In addition to Indigenous peoples known today, the population included historical groups such as the Kalina (Caribs), Auaké, Caquetio, Mariche, and Timoto–Cuicas. The Timoto–Cuica culture was the most complex society in Pre-Columbian Venezuela, with pre-planned permanent villages, surrounded by irrigated, terraced fields. Their houses were made primarily of stone and wood with thatched roofs. They were peaceful, for the most part, and depended on growing crops. Regional crops included potatoes and ullucos. They left behind works of art, particularly anthropomorphic ceramics, but no major monuments. They spun vegetable fibers to weave into textiles and mats for housing. They are credited with having invented the arepa, a staple in Venezuelan cuisine.
After the conquest, the population dropped markedly, mainly through the spread of new infectious diseases from Europe. Two main north–south axes of pre-Columbian population were present, who cultivated maize in the west and manioc in the east. Large parts of the llanos were cultivated through a combination of slash and burn and permanent settled agriculture.
In 1498, during his third voyage to the Americas, Christopher Columbus sailed near the Orinoco Delta and landed in the Gulf of Paria. Amazed by the great offshore current of freshwater which deflected his course eastward, Columbus expressed in a letter to Isabella and Ferdinand that he must have reached Heaven on Earth (terrestrial paradise):
Great signs are these of the Terrestrial Paradise... for I have never read or heard of such a large quantity of fresh water being inside and in such close proximity to salt water; the very mild temperateness also corroborates this; and if the water of which I speak does not proceed from Paradise then it is an even greater marvel, because I do not believe such a large and deep river has ever been known to exist in this world.
Spain's colonization of mainland Venezuela started in 1522, establishing its first permanent South American settlement in the present-day[update] city of Cumaná.
In the 16th century, the king of Spain granted a concession in Venezuela to the German Welser family. Klein-Venedig became the most extensive initiative in the German colonization of the Americas from 1528 to 1546. The Welser family were bankers to the Habsburgs and financiers of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, who was also King of Spain and had borrowed heavily from them to pay bribes for his Imperial election.
In 1528, Charles V granted the Welsers the right to explore, rule and colonize the territory, as well as to seek the mythical golden town of El Dorado. The first expedition was led by Ambrosius Ehinger, who established Maracaibo in 1529. After the deaths of first Ehinger (1533), then Nikolaus Federmann, and Georg von Speyer (1540), Philipp von Hutten persisted in exploring of the interior. In absence of von Hutten from the capital of the province, the crown of Spain claimed the right to appoint a governor. On Hutten's return to the capital, Santa Ana de Coro, in 1546, the Spanish governor Juan de Carvajal had Hutten and Bartholomeus VI. Welser executed. Subsequently, Charles V revoked Welser's concession. The Welsers transported German miners to the colony, in addition to 4,000 African slaves to plant sugar cane plantations. Many of the German colonists died from tropical diseases, to which they had no immunity, or through frequent wars with the Indigenous inhabitants.
Late 15th century to early 17th century
Native caciques (leaders) such as Guaicaipuro (c. 1530–1568) and Tamanaco (died 1573) attempted to resist Spanish incursions, but the newcomers ultimately subdued them; Tamanaco was put to death by order of Caracas' founder, Diego de Losada.
In the 16th century, during the Spanish colonization, indigenous peoples such as many of the Mariches, themselves descendants of the Kalina, were converted to Roman Catholicism. Some of the resisting tribes or leaders are commemorated in place names, including Caracas, Chacao and Los Teques. The early colonial settlements focused on the northern coast, but in the mid-18th century, the Spanish pushed farther inland along the Orinoco River. Here, the Ye'kuana (then known as the Makiritare) organized serious resistance in 1775 and 1776.
Spain's eastern Venezuelan settlements were incorporated into New Andalusia Province. Administered by the Royal Audiencia of Santo Domingo from the early 16th century, most of Venezuela became part of the Viceroyalty of New Granada in the early 18th century, and was then reorganized as an autonomous Captaincy General starting in 1777. The town of Caracas, founded in the central coastal region in 1567, was well-placed to become a key location, being near the coastal port of La Guaira whilst itself being located in a valley in a mountain range, providing defensive strength against pirates and a more fertile and healthy climate.
Independence and 19th century
After a series of unsuccessful uprisings, Venezuela, under the leadership of Francisco de Miranda, a Venezuelan marshal who had fought in the American Revolution and the French Revolution, declared independence as the First Republic of Venezuela on 5 July 1811. This began the Venezuelan War of Independence. A devastating earthquake that struck Caracas in 1812, together with the rebellion of the Venezuelan llaneros, helped bring down the republic. Simón Bolívar, new leader of the independentist forces, launched his Admirable Campaign in 1813 from New Granada, retaking most of the territory and being proclaimed as El Libertador ("The Liberator"). A second Venezuelan republic was proclaimed on 7 August 1813, but lasted only a few months before being crushed at the hands of royalist caudillo José Tomás Boves and his personal army of llaneros.
The end of the French invasion of homeland Spain in 1814 allowed the preparation of a large expeditionary force to the American provinces under general Pablo Morillo, with the goal to regain the lost territory in Venezuela and New Granada. As the war reached a stalemate on 1817, Bolívar reestablished the Third Republic of Venezuela on the territory still controlled by the patriots, mainly in the Guayana and Llanos regions. This republic was short-lived as only two years later, during the Congress of Angostura of 1819, the union of Venezuela with New Granada was decreed to form the Republic of Colombia (historiographically Republic of Gran Colombia). The war continued for some years, until full victory and sovereignty was attained after the Battle of Carabobo on 24 June 1821. On 24 July 1823, José Prudencio Padilla and Rafael Urdaneta helped seal Venezuelan independence with their victory in the Battle of Lake Maracaibo. New Granada's congress gave Bolívar control of the Granadian army; leading it, he liberated several countries and founded the Republic of Colombia (Gran Colombia).
Sucre went on to liberate Ecuador and become the second president of Bolivia. Venezuela remained part of Gran Colombia until 1830, when a rebellion led by José Antonio Páez allowed the proclamation of a newly independent Venezuela, on 22 September; Páez became the first president of the new State of Venezuela. Between one-quarter and one-third of Venezuela's population was lost during these two decades of warfare (including perhaps one-half of the Venezuelans of European descent), which by 1830, was estimated at 800,000.
The colors of the Venezuelan flag are yellow, blue, and red: the yellow stands for land wealth, the blue for the sea that separates Venezuela from Spain, and the red for the blood shed by the heroes of independence.
Slavery in Venezuela was abolished in 1854. Much of Venezuela's 19th-century history was characterized by political turmoil and dictatorial rule, including the Independence leader José Antonio Páez, who gained the presidency three times and served a total of 11 years between 1830 and 1863. This culminated in the Federal War (1859–1863). In the latter half of the century, Antonio Guzmán Blanco, another caudillo, served a total of 13 years between 1870 and 1887, with three other presidents interspersed.
In 1895, a longstanding dispute with Great Britain about the Essequibo territory, which Britain claimed as part of British Guiana and Venezuela saw as Venezuelan territory, erupted into the Venezuela Crisis of 1895. The dispute became a diplomatic crisis when Venezuela's lobbyist, William L. Scruggs, sought to argue that British behavior over the issue violated the United States' Monroe Doctrine of 1823, and used his influence in Washington, D.C., to pursue the matter. Then, U.S. president Grover Cleveland adopted a broad interpretation of the doctrine that declared an American interest in any matter within the hemisphere. Britain ultimately accepted arbitration, but in negotiations over its terms was able to persuade the U.S. on many of the details. A tribunal convened in Paris in 1898 to decide the issue and in 1899 awarded the bulk of the disputed territory to British Guiana.
In 1899, Cipriano Castro, assisted by his friend Juan Vicente Gómez, seized power in Caracas, marching an army from his base in the Andean state of Táchira. Castro defaulted on Venezuela's considerable foreign debts and declined to pay compensation to foreigners caught up in Venezuela's civil wars. This led to the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903, in which Britain, Germany and Italy imposed a naval blockade of several months before international arbitration at the new Permanent Court of Arbitration was agreed. In 1908, another dispute broke out with the Netherlands, which was resolved when Castro left for medical treatment in Germany and was promptly overthrown by Juan Vicente Gómez (1908–1935).
This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2017)
The discovery of massive oil deposits in Lake Maracaibo during World War I proved to be pivotal for Venezuela and transformed the basis of its economy from a heavy dependence on agricultural exports. It prompted an economic boom that lasted into the 1980s; by 1935, Venezuela's per capita gross domestic product was Latin America's highest. Gómez benefited handsomely from this, as corruption thrived, but at the same time, the new source of income helped him centralize the Venezuelan state and develop its authority.
He remained the most powerful man in Venezuela until his death in 1935, although at times he ceded the presidency to others. The gomecista dictatorship (1935–1945) system largely continued under Eleazar López Contreras, but from 1941, under Isaías Medina Angarita, was relaxed. Angarita granted a range of reforms, including the legalization of all political parties. After World War II, immigration from Southern Europe (mainly from Spain, Italy, Portugal, and France) and poorer Latin American countries markedly diversified Venezuelan society.
In 1945, a civilian-military coup overthrew Medina Angarita and ushered in a three-year period of democratic rule (1945–1948) under the mass membership party Democratic Action, initially under Rómulo Betancourt, until Rómulo Gallegos won the 1947 Venezuelan presidential election (generally believed to be the first free and fair elections in Venezuela). Gallegos governed until overthrown by a military junta led by the triumvirate Luis Felipe Llovera Páez [es], Marcos Pérez Jiménez, and Gallegos' Defense Minister, Carlos Delgado Chalbaud, in the 1948 Venezuelan coup d'état.
The most powerful man in the military junta (1948–1958) was Pérez Jiménez (though Chalbaud was its titular president) and was suspected of being behind the death in office of Chalbaud, who died in a bungled kidnapping in 1950. When the junta unexpectedly lost the 1952 presidential election, it ignored the results and Pérez Jiménez was installed as president
The military dictator Pérez Jiménez was forced out on 23 January 1958. In an effort to consolidate a young democracy, the three major political parties (Acción Democrática (AD), COPEI and Unión Republicana Democrática (URD), with the notable exception of the Communist Party of Venezuela), signed the Puntofijo Pact power-sharing agreement. The two first parties would dominate the political landscape for four decades.
During the presidencies of Rómulo Betancourt (1959–1964, his second term) and Raúl Leoni (1964–1969) in the 1960s, substantial guerilla movements occurred, including the Armed Forces of National Liberation and the Revolutionary Left Movement, which had split from AD in 1960. Most of these movements laid down their arms under Rafael Caldera's first presidency (1969–1974); Caldera had won the 1968 election for COPEI, being the first time a party other than Democratic Action took the presidency through a democratic election. The new democratic order had its antagonists. Betancourt suffered an attack planned by the Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1960, and the leftists excluded from the Pact initiated an armed insurgency by organizing themselves in the Armed Forces of National Liberation, sponsored by the Communist Party and Fidel Castro. In 1962 they tried to destabilize the military corps, with failed revolts in Carúpano and Puerto Cabello. At the same time, Betancourt promoted a foreign policy, the Betancourt Doctrine, in which he only recognized elected governments by popular vote.[need quotation to verify]
The election in 1973 of Carlos Andrés Pérez coincided with an oil crisis, in which Venezuela's income exploded as oil prices soared; oil industries were nationalized in 1976. This led to massive increases in public spending, but also increases in external debts, until the collapse of oil prices during the 1980s crippled the Venezuelan economy. As the government started to devalue the currency in February 1983 to face its financial obligations, Venezuelans' real standards of living fell dramatically. A number of failed economic policies and increasing corruption in government led to rising poverty and crime, worsening social indicators, and increased political instability.
In the 1980s, the Presidential Commission for State Reform (COPRE) emerged as a mechanism of political innovation. Venezuela was preparing for the decentralization of its political system and the diversification of its economy, reducing the large size of the State. The COPRE operated as an innovation mechanism, also by incorporating issues into the political agenda that were generally excluded from public deliberation by the main actors of the Venezuelan democratic system. The most discussed topics were incorporated into the public agenda: decentralization, political participation, municipalization, judicial order reforms and the role of the State in a new economic strategy. The social reality of the country made the changes difficult to apply.
Economic crises in the 1980s and 1990s led to a political crisis. Hundreds of people were killed by Venezuelan security forces and the military in the Caracazo riots of 1989 during the presidency of Carlos Andrés Pérez (1989–1993, his second term) and after the implementation of economic austerity measures. Hugo Chávez, who in 1982 had promised to depose the bipartisanship governments, used the growing anger at economic austerity measures to justify a coup d'état attempt in February 1992; a second coup d'état attempt occurred in November. President Carlos Andrés Pérez (re-elected in 1988) was impeached under embezzlement charges in 1993, leading to the interim presidency of Ramón José Velásquez (1993–1994). Coup leader Chávez was pardoned in March 1994 by president Rafael Caldera (1994–1999, his second term), with a clean slate and his political rights reinstated, allowing Chávez to win and maintain the presidency continuously from 1999 until his death in 2013. Chávez won the elections of 1998, 2000, 2006 and 2012 and the presidential referendum of 2004. The only gaps in his presidency occurred during the two-day de facto government of Pedro Carmona Estanga in 2002 and when Diosdado Cabello Rondón acted as interim president for a few hours.
Bolivarian government: 1999–present
A collapse in confidence in the existing parties led to Hugo Chávez being elected president in 1998 and the subsequent launch of a "Bolivarian Revolution", beginning with a 1999 constituent assembly to write a new Constitution of Venezuela. The Bolivarian Revolution refers to a left-wing populism social movement and political process in Venezuela led by Chávez, who founded the Fifth Republic Movement in 1997 and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela in 2007. The "Bolivarian Revolution" is named after Simón Bolívar. According to Chávez and other supporters, the "Bolivarian Revolution" seeks to build a mass movement to implement Bolivarianism—popular democracy, economic independence, equitable distribution of revenues, and an end to political corruption—in Venezuela. They interpret Bolívar's ideas from a populist perspective, using socialist rhetoric. This led to formation of the Fifth Republic of Venezuela (Spanish: Quinta República de Venezuela), commonly known as the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (Spanish: República Bolivariana de Venezuela), that continues to the present day. Venezuela has been considered the Bolivarian Republic following the adoption of the new Constitution of 1999. Since Chávez's election into office, Venezuela developed into a dominant-party system, dominated by the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. In April 2002, Chávez was briefly ousted from power in the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt following popular demonstrations by his opponents, but Chavez returned to power after two days as a result of demonstrations by poor Chávez supporters in Caracas and actions by the military. Chávez also remained in power after an all-out national strike that lasted from December 2002 to February 2003, including a strike/lockout in the state oil company PDVSA. Capital flight before and during the strike led to the reimposition of currency controls (which had been abolished in 1989), managed by the CADIVI agency. In the subsequent decade, the government was forced into several currency devaluations. These devaluations have done little to improve the situation of the Venezuelan people who rely on imported products or locally produced products that depend on imported inputs while dollar-denominated oil sales account for the vast majority of Venezuela's exports. According to Sebastian Boyd writing at Bloomberg News, the profits of the oil industry have been lost to "social engineering" and corruption, instead of investments needed to maintain oil production.
Chávez survived several further political tests, including an August 2004 recall referendum. He was elected for another term in December 2006 and re-elected for a third term in October 2012. However, he was never sworn in for his third period, due to medical complications; he died on 5 March 2013. The presidential election that took place on Sunday, 14 April 2013, was the first since Chávez took office in 1999 in which his name did not appear on the ballot.[self-published source?] Under the Bolivarian government, Venezuela went from being one of the richest countries in Latin America to one of the poorest. Hugo Chávez's socioeconomic policies of relying on oil sales and importing goods resulted in large amounts of debt, no change to corruption in Venezuela and culminated into the crisis in Venezuela. As a result of the crisis, the Venezuelan refugee crisis, the largest emigration of people in Latin America's history, occurred, with over 7 million Venezuelans – about 20% of the country's population – emigrating. Chávez also initiated Bolivarian missions, programs aimed at helping the poor.
Poverty and inflation began to increase into the 2010s. Nicolás Maduro was elected in 2013 after the death of Chavez. Chavez picked Maduro as his successor and appointed him vice president in 2013. Maduro was elected president in 2013 following Chavez's death.
Nicolás Maduro has been the president of Venezuela since 14 April 2013, when he won the second presidential election after Chávez's death, with 50.61% of the votes against the opposition's candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski, who had 49.12% of the votes. The Democratic Unity Roundtable contested his election as fraud and as a violation of the constitution. An audit of 56% of the vote showed no discrepancies, and the Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled that under Venezuela's Constitution, Nicolás Maduro was the legitimate president. Opposition leaders and some international media consider the government of Maduro to be a dictatorship. Since February 2014, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have protested over high levels of criminal violence, corruption, hyperinflation, and chronic scarcity of basic goods due to policies of the federal government. Demonstrations and riots have resulted in over 40 fatalities in the unrest between Chavistas and opposition protesters and opposition leaders, including Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma were arrested. Human rights groups condemned the arrest of Leopoldo López. In the 2015 Venezuelan parliamentary election, the opposition gained a majority.
Venezuela devalued its currency in February 2013 due to rising shortages in the country, which included those of milk, flour, and other necessities. This led to an increase in malnutrition, especially among children. Venezuela's economy had become strongly dependent on the exportation of oil, with crude accounting for 86% of exports, and a high price per barrel to support social programs. Beginning in 2014 the price of oil plummeted from over $100/bbl to $40/bbl a year and a half later. This placed pressure on the Venezuelan economy, which was no longer able to afford vast social programs. To counter the decrease in oil prices, the Venezuelan Government began taking more money from PDVSA, the state oil company, to meet budgets, resulting in a lack of reinvestment in fields and employees. Venezuela's oil production decreased from its height of nearly 3 to 1 million barrels (480 to 160 thousand cubic metres) per day. In 2014, Venezuela entered an economic recession. In 2015, Venezuela had the world's highest inflation rate with the rate surpassing 100%, which was the highest in the country's history. In 2017, Donald Trump's administration imposed more economic sanctions against Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA and Venezuelan officials. Economic problems, as well as crime and corruption, were some of the main causes of the 2014–present Venezuelan protests. Since 2014, roughly 5.6 million people have fled Venezuela.
In January 2016, President Maduro decreed an "economic emergency", revealing the extent of the crisis and expanding his powers. In July 2016, Colombian border crossings were temporarily opened to allow Venezuelans to purchase food and basic household and health items in Colombia. In September 2016, a study published in the Spanish-language Diario Las Américas indicated that 15% of Venezuelans are eating "food waste discarded by commercial establishments". Close to 200 riots had occurred in Venezuelan prisons by October 2016, according to Una Ventana a la Libertad, an advocacy group for better prison conditions.
In 2017, Venezuela experienced a constitutional crisis in the country. In March 2017, opposition leaders branded President Maduro a dictator after the Maduro-aligned Supreme Tribunal, which had been overturning most National Assembly decisions since the opposition took control of the body, took over the functions of the assembly, pushing a lengthy political standoff to new heights. The Supreme Court backed down and reversed its decision on 1 April 2017. A month later, President Maduro announced the 2017 Venezuelan Constituent Assembly election and on 30 August 2017, the 2017 Constituent National Assembly was elected into office and quickly stripped the National Assembly of its powers. The election raised concerns of an emerging dictatorship. In December 2017, President Maduro declared that leading opposition parties would be barred from taking part in the following year's presidential vote after they boycotted mayoral polls.
Maduro won the 2018 election with 67.8% of the vote. The result was challenged by countries including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, France and the United States who deemed it fraudulent and moved to recognize Juan Guaidó as president. Other countries continued to recognize Maduro as president, although China, facing financial pressure over its position, reportedly began hedging its position by decreasing loans given, cancelling joint ventures, and signaling willingness to work with all parties. In January 2019 the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) approved a resolution "to not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro's new term as of the 10th of January of 2019".
In August 2019, United States President Donald Trump signed an executive order to impose a total economic embargo against Venezuela. In March 2020, the Trump administration indicted Maduro and several Venezuelan officials, including the Chief Justice of the Supreme Tribunal, on charges of drug trafficking, narcoterrorism, and corruption.[non-primary source needed]
In June 2020, a report by the US organisation Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights documented enforced disappearances in Venezuela that occurred in the years 2018 and 2019. During the period, 724 enforced disappearances of political detainees were reported. The report stated that Venezuelan security forces subjected victims, who had been disappeared, to illegal interrogation processes accompanied by torture and cruel or inhuman treatment. The report stated that the Venezuelan government strategically used enforced disappearances to silence political opponents and other critical voices it deemed a threat.