This book profiles Venezuela with a focus foreign relations and human rights issues. Under the rule of populist President Hugo Chavez, first elected in 1998 and reelected to a six-year term in December 2006, Venezuela has undergone enormous political changes, with a new constitution and unicameral legislature, and even a new name for the country, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Human rights organizations have expressed concerns about the deterioration of democratic institutions and threats to freedom of expression under the Chavez government. Venezuela is scheduled to hold its next presidential election on October 7, 2012, with President Chavez running against Henrique Capriles Radonski, the unified opposition candidate. While Chavez's continued popularity and use of state resources bode well for his reelection, high rates of crime, inflation, and other economic problems could erode his support. Looking ahead, however, Chavez's health status, after recovering from two bouts of an undisclosed form of cancer, raise questions about Venezuela's political future. (Imprint: Nova)
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