Chávez’ North is the South : An analysis of the internal and external policy of Bolivarian Venezuela in the Hugo Chávez era

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In this Master thesis Venezuela’s internal and external policy under President Hugo Chávez has been analysed to determine to what extent it is are explained by respectively the Marxist theories of state, and critical geopolitics. The internal policy has been assessed by measuring the degree of state transformation with the help of eight indicators selected from Marxist theories of state, such as the work of Bob Jessop. The study of the external policy has been twofold, with practical geopolitics, focusing on the government’s own policy, and discourse analysis, examining President Chávez’ discourse, serving as the theoretical background. In the final chapter it has been argued that in Venezuela has is a very limited degree of state transformation or institutional and structural reforms, and that despite some promising and positive developments that set out Venezuela in the region, society and the state and its bureaucracies suffer from corruption, financial waste, inefficiency, extreme social and political polarisation, a certain degree of conflict of interests and a lack of institutionalisation of new laws and regulations. The degree of organising of the chavistas is still limited and suffers from several flaws, but elections have given the government a strong mandate for change. Meanwhile, the government’s room for manoeuvre has increased since the nationalisation of oil company PDVSA, and though many social programs have a profound effect on the life of millions of people they are ad-hoc in character. The country’s external policy is ambiguous, has a lack of focus and the multiple aims have hurt its effectiveness. The external policy serves as legitimacy for the internal policy, but several discrepancies between discourse and practice have being damaging. The study has pointed out that the focus of the Marxist theories of state is too statist and the theories cannot grasp the case of Venezuela and mainly serve for its original purpose of explaining Western European affairs. It also shows that analysing discourse is necessary and complements the study of geopolitical practice.
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