Nicolás Maduro

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This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Maduro and the second or maternal family name is Moros.
Nicolás Maduro
President Maduro diciembre 2014.jpg
President of Venezuela
Incumbent
Assumed office
19 April 2013
Acting: 5 March 2013 – 19 April 2013
Vice President Jorge Arreaza
Preceded by Hugo Chávez
Vice President of Venezuela
In office
13 October 2012 – 5 March 2013
President Hugo Chávez
Preceded by Elías Jaua
Succeeded by Jorge Arreaza
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
9 August 2006 – 15 January 2013
President Hugo Chávez
Preceded by Alí Rodríguez Araque
Succeeded by Elías Jaua
President of the National Assembly
In office
January 2005 – 7 August 2006
Preceded by Francisco Ameliach
Succeeded by Cilia Flores
Personal details
Born Nicolás Maduro Moros
(1962-11-23) 23 November 1962 (age 52)
Caracas, Venezuela
Political party United Socialist Party (2007–present)
Fifth Republic Movement (Before 2007)
Spouse(s) Cilia Flores
Children Nicolás Maduro Guerra[1]
Residence Miraflores Palace
Religion Roman Catholic, Sathya Sai Baba
Signature
Website Official website

Nicolás Maduro Moros (Spanish: [nikoˈlas maˈðuɾo ˈmoɾos]; born 23 November 1962) is a Venezuelan politician who has been President of Venezuela since 2013. Previously he served under President Hugo Chávez as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2013 and as Vice President of Venezuela from 2012 to 2013.

A former bus driver, Maduro rose to become a trade union leader, before being elected to the National Assembly in 2000. He was appointed to a number of positions within the Venezuelan Government under Chávez, ultimately being made Foreign Minister in 2006. He was described during this time as the "most capable administrator and politician of Chávez's inner circle".[2]

After Chávez's death was announced on 5 March 2013, Maduro assumed the powers and responsibilities of the president. A special election was held on 14 April 2013 to elect a new president, and Maduro won by a 1.5 percent margin as the candidate of the United Socialist Party; he was formally inaugurated on 19 April.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Nicolás Maduro was born on 23 November 1962 in Caracas, Venezuela.[4][5] Maduro was born into a leftist family with his father being a union leader.[4][6] He attended a public high school at the Liceo José Ávalos in El Valle, a working-class neighborhood on the western outskirts of Caracas.[5][7] His first introduction to politics was when he became a member of his high school's student union.[4] According to school records, Maduro never graduated from high school.[6]

Maduro was raised as a Roman Catholic, and his paternal family ancestry is of Sephardic Jewish origin.[8][9][10][11] In 2012 it was reported that he was a follower of Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba.[12]

Early political career[edit]

Maduro found employment as a bus driver for many years for the Caracas Metro company. He began his political career in the 1980s, by becoming an unofficial trade unionist representing the bus drivers of the Caracas Metro system. He was also employed as a bodyguard for José Vicente Rangel during Rangel's unsuccessful 1983 presidential campaign.[6][13] In the early 1990s, he joined MBR-200 and campaigned for the release of Hugo Chávez when he was jailed for his role in the 1992 Venezuelan coup d'état attempts.[6] In the late 1990s, Maduro was instrumental in founding the Movement of the Fifth Republic, which supported Hugo Chávez in his run for president in 1998.[7]

National Assembly[edit]

Maduro was elected on the MVR ticket to the Venezuelan Chamber of Deputies in 1998, to the National Constituent Assembly in 1999, and finally to the National Assembly in 2000, at all times representing the Capital District. The Assembly elected him as Speaker, a role he held from 2005 until 2006.

Foreign Minister[edit]

On 9 August 2006, Maduro was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. According to Rory Carroll, Maduro does not speak foreign languages.[14] During his time as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Venezuela's foreign policy stances included support for Libya under Muammar Gaddafi, and a turnaround in relations with Colombia.[15]

Vice President of Venezuela[edit]

Chávez appointed Maduro Vice President of Venezuela on 13 October 2012, shortly after his victory in that month's presidential election. Two months later, on 8 December 2012, Chávez announced that his recurring cancer had returned and that he would be returning to Cuba for emergency surgery and further medical treatment. Chávez said that should his condition worsen and a new presidential election be called to replace him, Venezuelans should vote for Maduro to succeed him. This was the first time that Chávez named a potential successor to his movement, as well as the first time he publicly acknowledged the possibility of his demise.[16][17]

Chávez's endorsement of Maduro sidelined Diosdado Cabello, a former Vice President and powerful Socialist Party official with ties to the armed forces, who had been widely considered a top candidate to be Chávez's successor. After Maduro was endorsed by Chávez, Cabello "immediately pledged loyalty" to both men.[18]

Interim president[edit]

Maduro serving as interim president.

My firm opinion, as clear as the full moon – irrevocable, absolute, total – is...that you elect Nicolas Maduro as President. I ask this of you from my heart. He is one of the young leaders with the greatest ability to continue, if I cannot.

Hugo Chávez (December 2012)[15]

Upon the death of Chávez on 5 March 2013, Maduro assumed the powers and responsibilities of the president. He appointed Jorge Arreaza to take his place as vice president. Since Chávez died within the first four years of his term, the Constitution of Venezuela states that a presidential election had to be held within 30 days of his death.[19][20][21] Maduro was unanimously adopted as the Socialist Party's candidate in that election.[22] At the time of his assumption of temporary power, opposition leaders argued that Maduro violated articles 229, 231, and 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution, by assuming power over the President of the National Assembly.[23][24]

In his speech during the short ceremony in which he formally took over the powers of the president, Maduro said: "Compatriots, I am not here out of personal ambition, out of vanity, or because my surname Maduro is a part of the rancid oligarchy of this country. I am not here because I represent financial groups, neither of the oligarchy nor of American imperialism...I am not here to protect mafias nor groups nor factions."[25][26]

President of Venezuela[edit]

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff receiving a Hugo Chávez picture from Nicolás Maduro at the Palácio do Planalto, in Brasília, Brazil.

On 14 April 2013, Maduro was elected President of Venezuela, narrowly defeating opposition candidate Henrique Capriles with just 1.5% of the vote separating the two candidates. Capriles immediately demanded a recount, refusing to recognize the outcome as valid.[27] Maduro was later formally inaugurated as President on 19 April, after the election commission had promised a full audit of the election results.[3][28] On 24 October 2013, he announced the creation of a new agency, the Vice Ministry of Supreme Happiness, to coordinate all the social programmes.[29]

Rule by decree[edit]

Six months after being elected, President Maduro was able to rule by decree twice, from 19 November 2013 through 19 November 2014[30] and from 15 March 2015 through 31 December 2015, following the approval of his request through the Enabling Law by the National Assembly.

2013–2014[edit]

In October 2013, Maduro requested an enabling law to rule by decree in order to fight corruption[31][32] and to also fight what he called an "economic war".[33] On 19 November 2013, the National Assembly granted Maduro the power to rule by decree until 19 November 2014.[34]

2015–2016[edit]

On 10 March 2015, Maduro asked to rule by decree for a second time following the sanctioning of seven Venezuelan officials by the United States, requesting the Enabling Law to be used to "confront" what Maduro called "the aggression of the most powerful country in the world, the United States".[35] Days later on 15 March 2015, the National Assembly granted Maduro power to rule by decree until 31 December 2015.[36]

Cultural and political image[edit]

Source: Datanálisis

In October 2013, Maduro's approval rating stood between 45% and 50% with Reuters stating that it was possibly due to Hugo Chávez's endorsement.[37] One year later in October 2014, Maduro's approval rating was at 24.5% according to Datanálisis.[38]

In November 2014, Datanálisis polls indicated that more than 66% of Venezuelans believed that Maduro should not finish his six-year term, with government supporters representing more than 25% of those believing that Maduro should resign.[39] In March and April 2015, Maduro saw a small increase in approval after initiating a campaign of anti-US rhetoric following the sanctioning of seven officials accused by the United States of participating in human rights violations.[40][41]

2014–15 Venezuelan protests[edit]

In 2014, a series of protests, political demonstrations, and civil insurrection began in Venezuela due to the country's high levels of violence, inflation, and chronic shortages of basic goods[42][43] attributed to economic policies such as strict price controls.[44][45] According to Maduro's government, the protests are an undemocratic coup d'etat attempt[46] orchestrated by "fascist opposition leaders and the United States".[47]

Although Maduro, a former trade union leader, says he supports peaceful protesting,[48] the Venezuelan government has been widely condemned for its handling of the protests. Venezuelan authorities have reportedly gone beyond the use of rubber pellets and tear gas to instances of live ammunition use and torture of arrested protestors, according to organizations like Amnesty International[49] and Human Rights Watch,[50] while the United Nations[51][52][53] has accused the Venezuelan government of politically-motivated arrests, most notably former Chacao mayor and leader of Popular Will, Leopoldo Lopez, who has used the controversial charges of murder and inciting violence against him to protest the government's "criminalization of dissent."[54][55][56]

Policies[edit]

Crime[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Crime in Venezuela.

One of the first important presidential programs of Nicolas Maduro became the "Safe Homeland" program, a massive police and military campaign to build security in the country. 3,000 soldiers were deployed to decrease homicide in Venezuela, which has one of the highest rates of homicide in Latin America.[57] Most of these troops were deployed in the state of Miranda (Greater Caracas), which has the highest homicide rate in Venezuela. According to the government, in 2012, more than 16,000 people were killed, a rate of 54 people per 100,000, although the Venezuela Violence Observatory, a campaign group, claims that the homicide rate was in fact 73 people per 100,000.[57] The government claims that the Safe Homeland program has reduced homicides by 55%.[58][59] The program had to be reinitiated one year later after the program's creator, Miguel Rodríguez Torres, was replaced by Carmen Melendez Teresa Rivas.[60] Murder also increased over the years since the programs initiation according to the Venezuela Violence Observatory, with the murder rate increasing to 82 per 100,000 in 2014.[61]

Economic policies[edit]

When elected in 2013, Maduro continued the majority of existing economic policies of his predecessor Hugo Chávez. When entering the presidency, Maduro's Venezuela faced a high inflation rate and large shortages of goods[45][62][63] that was left-over from the previous policies of President Chávez.[64][65][66][67]

Maduro blamed capitalism for speculation that is driving high rates of inflation and creating widespread shortages of staples, and often said he was fighting an "economic war", calling newly enacted economic measures "economic offensives" against political opponents he and loyalists state are behind an international economic conspiracy.[68][69][70][71][72][73] However, Maduro has been criticized for only concentrating on public opinion instead of tending to the practical issues economists have warned the Venezuelan government about or creating any ideas to improve the economic situation in Venezuela such as the "economic war".[74][75]

Venezuela was ranked as the top spot globally with the highest misery index score in 2013,[76] 2014[77] and 2015.[78][79] In 2014, Venezuela's economy entered a recession.[80]

Foreign policy[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Foreign relations of Venezuela.

China[edit]

President Maduro reached out to China for economic assistance while China funneled billions of dollars from multiple loans into Venezuela.[81] China is Venezuela's second largest trade partner with two-thirds of Venezuelan exports to China composed of oil.[81] According to Mark Jones, a Latin American expert of the Baker Institute, China was "investing for strategic reasons" rather than ideological similarities.[81]

Venezuela has also used military equipment from China using the NORINCO VN-4 against protesters during the 2014–15 Venezuelan protests, ordering hundreds more as a result of the demonstrations.[82][83]

United States[edit]

Maduro has accused the United States of intervention in Venezuela several times with his allegations ranging from post-election violence by "neo-Nazi groups", economic difficulties from what he called an "economic war" and various coup plots.[84][85][86] The United States denied such accusations[86] while analysts have called such allegations by Maduro as a way to distract Venezuelans from their problems.[87]

Following targeted sanctions of 7 Venezuelan officials that allegedly participated in human rights violations, Maduro wrote an open letter in a full page ad in The New York Times in March 2015 stating that Venezuelans were "friends of the American people" and called President Obama's action of making targeted sanctions on the alleged human rights abusers a "unilateral and aggressive measure".[88][89]

Other interactions[edit]

On April 6, 2015, twenty-five (25) ex-presidents issued called Declaración de Panamá,[90] a statement denouncing the VII Cumbre de las Américas, what they called "democratic alteration" in Venezuela, promoted by the government of Nicolas Maduro. The statement calls for the immediate release of "political prisoners" in Venezuela. Among the former heads of government that have called for improvements in Venezuela are: Jorge Quiroga (Bolivia); Sebastián Piñera (Chile): Andrés Pastrana, Álvaro Uribe and Belisario Betancur (Colombia); Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia, Laura Chinchilla, Óscar Arias , Luis Alberto Monge (Costa Rica), Osvaldo Hurtado (Ecuador); Alfredo Cristiani and Armando Calderón (EL Salvador); José María Aznar (Spain); Felipe Calderón and Vicente Fox (México), Mireya Moscoso (Panamá), Alejandro Toledo (Perú) and Luis Alberto Lacalle (Uruguay).[91]

Roberta S. Jacobson, US Undersecretary of State for Latin America, says that sanctions "were not to harm Venezuelans or the Venezuelan government as a whole".[92] The arguments for sanctions against Venezuelan officials, according to the State Department of the United States collected "erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents and restrictions on press freedom, violence and human rights abuses to answer to anti-government protests, arbitrary arrests and detention of protesters and public corruption significant".[93]

For his part, President Nicolas Maduro planned to deliver 10 million signatures, or signatures from about 1/3 of Venezuela's population, denouncing the United States' decree declaring the situation in Venezuela an "extraordinary threat to US national security".[94][95] Maduro ordered all schools in the country to hold an "anti-imperialist day" against the United States with the day's activities including the "collection of the signatures of the students, and teaching, administrative, maintenance and cooking personnel".[95] Maduro also ordered state workers to apply their signatures in protest, with some workers reporting that firings of state workers occurred due to their rejection of signing the executive order protesting the "Obama decree".[96][97][98][99][100][95] There were also reports that members of Venezuelan armed forces and their families were ordered to sign against the United States decree.[95]

Controversies[edit]

Conspiracy theories[edit]

Maduro and members of his entourage have voiced on several occasions of alleged conspiracies against Maduro and the Bolivarian government. Maduro continued the practice of his predcessor, Hugo Chávez, of denouncing alleged conspiracies and in a period of fifteen months following his election, dozens of conspiracies, some supposedly linked to assassination and coup attempts, were reported by Maduro's government.[101][102] In TV program La Hojilla, Mario Silva, a TV personality of the main state-run channel Venezolana de Televisión, stated in March 2015 that President Maduro had received about 13 million psychological attacks.[103]

Analysts and observers of such allegations state that Maduro uses such conspiracy theories as a strategy to distract Venezuelans from the root causes of some problems facing his government.[87][101][104][105] Such conspiracy theories presented by the Venezuelan government have never involved any substantial evidence.[101][105][95]

Jose Zalt wedding incident[edit]

At the wedding of Jose Zalt, a Syrian-Venezuelan businessman that owns the clothing brand Wintex, on 14 March 2015, Nicolás Maduro's son, Nicolas Ernesto Maduro Guerra, was seen being showered with American dollars at the gathering in the luxurious Gran Melia Hotel in Caracas.[89] The incident caused outrage among Venezuelans who believed this to be hypocritical of President Maduro, especially since many Venezuelans were experiencing hardships due to the poor state of the economy and due to the president's public denouncements of capitalism.[89][106][107][108][109][110] The incident took place hours after the Venezuelan government military parade against the United States which Maduro's government claims is behind an "economic war" with Venezuela.[84][108][111] During a PSUV National Congress, Nicolas Ernesto Maduro Guerra responded to the incident only calling it "gossip".[112]

Homophobic comments and insults[edit]

During a tenth anniversary gathering commemorating the 2002 Venezuelan coup d'état attempt going into the 2012 Venezuelan presidential election, Maduro called opposition members "snobs" and "big faggots".[113][114]

During the presidential campaign of 2013, Maduro used homophobic attacks as a political weapon, calling representatives of the opposition as "fagots [sic]" and "bigwigs".[115] Maduro used a homophobic speech against his opponent Henrique Capriles calling him a "little princess" and saying "I do have a wife, you know? I do like women!"[116][117][115]

In December 2014, amid the celebration of 15 years of the "Bolivarian Constitution", Maduro made a comment on the drafted bill in the United States that would potentially penalize some government officials involved in corruption, drug trafficking and violation of human rights, with Maduro saying in radio and television, "they grab their visa and where the mess has to shove, insert the visa in the ass".[118]

In April 2015, the Spanish Congress, held criticism of the situation in Venezuela, to which Maduro said "go to yours mother's" .[119]

Recognition[edit]

TIME Magazine[edit]

In 2014, Maduro was in TIME Magazines The 100 Most Influential People. In the article, it explained that whether or not Venezuela collapses "now depends on Maduro" saying that it also depends on if Maduro "can step out of the shadow of his pugnacious predecessor and compromise with his opponents". The TIME article further explained how "Maduro is struggling as a litany of ills, from soaring inflation to food shortages, fans popular discontent."[120]

Ideological orientation[edit]

According to Professor Ramón Piñango, a sociologist from the Venezuelan University of IESA, "Maduro has a very strong ideological orientation, close to the communist ideology. Contrary to Diosdado, he is not very pragmatic."[5] However, the World Socialist Web Site has argued that Maduro intends to roll back Chávez's reforms, noting that, "In the conduct of his campaign, Maduro has continued his appeal to right-wing and nationalist sentiments, with repeated invocations of patriotism and the fatherland".[121]

Family[edit]

Maduro is married to Cilia Flores, a lawyer and politician who replaced Maduro as President of the National Assembly in August 2006, when he resigned to become Minister of Foreign Affairs; she became the first woman to serve as President of the National Assembly.[122]

Maduro appointed his son to senior government posts: Chief of the presidency's Special Inspectors Body, head of the National Film School, and a seat in the National Assembly.[89]

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External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Alí Rodríguez Araque
Minister of Foreign Affairs
2006–2013
Succeeded by
Elías Jaua
Preceded by
Elías Jaua
Vice President of Venezuela
2012–2013
Succeeded by
Jorge Arreaza
Preceded by
Hugo Chávez
President of Venezuela
2013–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Hugo Chávez
Leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela
2013–present
Incumbent