The Political Economy of the Andean Region
Edited by Andrés Solimano
Chapter 8: Venezuela: from stability to turmoil
Enzo Del Bufalo* 8.1 THE END OF AN ERA A failed military coup lead by Hugo Chávez on 4 February 1992 marked the beginning of a new period of political instability and institutional changes in a country that was until then a model of governance in Latin America. The coup attempt had been preceded by three days of street looting in February 1989. It happened two weeks after the new administration of Carlos Andrés Pérez announced a stabilization and liberalization package supported by a standby agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This popular upheaval cannot be considered a reaction to the usual negative effects of orthodox stabilization programs, since there was not enough time for these effects to work out. It was rather due to the psychological effects of the announcement itself that caused a sudden disappointment of people’s high expectations of a quick return to the better days previous to the 1983 devaluation. A return that people felt had been too many times postponed just because of the inefﬁciency and corruption of governments. The addition of a new disappointment to the accumulated burden of a long series of frustrations unleashed the social reaction that signaled the end of an era of stability. The new government had been elected because it had promised a return to the boom days of the 1970s, when the ﬁrst administration led by Carlos Andrés Pérez enjoyed the huge oil revenue. The stabilization program meant exactly the opposite...
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