Venezuela: The Country in the Americas with the Highest Degree of Impunity

A version of this commentary was originally published in Spanish in El Nacional on March 1, 2023.

After 34 years of the great social outbreak known as the Caracazo (Venezuela) the causes that originated it are still as valid than ever. The economic deterioration of the population and the strengthening of corruption during the last four democratic governments have deepened in the 10 years of Madurismo.

The recently published indices, such as those of Democracy and the Perception of Corruption, indicate that the Venezuela of Nicolás Maduro is in last place among the countries of the American region.

In the first world report Atlas of Impunity, published 12 days ago by the Eurasia Group and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the country once again occupies the last place in the American continent and the 11th worst position among the 197 evaluated in five key dimensions: the violation of human rights, the lack of accountability of governments (governance), the use of violence in internal and external conflicts (conflict and violence), lack of equity in the economy (economy) and environmental degradation.

These dimensions are based, to a large extent, on the work of other investigations that have done the same, such as the Rule of Law and Freedom in the World Index, the World Press Freedom Index, the Economic Freedom Index, among others. others. The atlas uses 67 independent, credible, and comparable data sources to produce each country's score.

David Miliband, former UK Labor Foreign Secretary (2007–2010), and a group of distinguished academics and prominent politicians have been arguing that, while the fight for democracy is real, dividing the world into democracies and autocracies does not reflect key issues of the global balance of power.

They propose impunity, the exercise of power without accountability by committing crimes without punishment, as a better category because many countries that are not democracies did well on this index, exercising power responsibly and offering reasonably effective and fair government. to its citizens.

On the American continent, Maduro's Venezuela, the failed state of Haiti, and Ortega's Nicaragua occupy the three worst places as the countries where there is the most impunity.

Photo: iLab/CSIS

The report establishes that in Venezuela impunity is very common. The high overall score of 3.61 is due “in large part to the authoritarian government of Maduro, which has intensified repression even while taking a more pragmatic approach to the economy. Venezuela is among the five countries with the worst results in the dimension of governance without accountability—behind North Korea and ahead of Myanmar-—something that is unlikely to change soon.”

He adds that Superbigote (aka Nicolas Maduro) is unlikely to accept a competitive presidential election in 2024, given the high personal costs associated with losing power. These include the prospect of international prosecution in response to the alleged crimes against humanity committed by Maduro and his henchmen.

In this study, Venezuela once again leads the worst, that is, it is the country with the most impunity in the American continent.

When comparing the performance in each axis of the three countries with the most impunity in the region, Venezuela, Haiti, and Nicaragua, the one governed by Maduro has the worst performance in governance, human rights, economy, and conflict. It is only surpassed by Haiti and Nicaragua in environmental impact. An axis that will have to be reviewed in future editions due to the destruction of the Amazon.

Photo: iLab/CSIS

In conclusion, according to the results of the atlas and the indices, Maduro has a fight against time to continue exercising power. Because everything indicates that his performance has been placing him in last place on the continent. Yet again.

Consequently, if the democratic factors align and decide that "consensus is primary" they will have another chance to get out of the dictatorship. The opposite will serve so that Maduro—marginal according to the Chavista Rafael Ramírez—continues gaining time to avoid his defeat. He tried it with the acts of celebration of the Caracazo two days ago. He sought to build the narrative that the democratic state of the time forcefully repressed the civilian population. It tries to avoid the opening of the trial for alleged crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court. But, if one refers to his numbers, he has an uphill battle.

Antonio de la Cruz is a senior associate (non-resident) with the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.