Democracy and rights
In democracy surveys, Venezuela is among "rogue
states" - the country is ranked among the most
authoritarian and non-free states in the world.
Democratic freedoms and rights have been eroded for 20
years, but the race has been particularly large in
During the "Bolivarian Revolution" that began when
Hugo Chávez came to power in 1999, restrictions were
gradually introduced in political rights and democratic
functions. Power has been concentrated on the president
and the government, and opinion opponents have been
pressed ever more. However, when the opposition won a
national-level election in 2015, the government
responded by completely running over the newly elected
parliament by setting up another assembly (see Political
system and Modern history). The presidential elections
that have been held since 2018 have been rejected as
completely devoid of democratic support (see Current
policy). Leading potential opposition candidates were
suspended and voters subjected to harassment.
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Venezuela, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
The government has now strangled all the usual
channels of political resistance. People who are
perceived as opponents risk being persecuted, arrested,
tortured and in some cases disappear. The security
forces' violence against protesters has claimed many
people's lives in recent years. A special police force,
Faes, which was established in 2017, is accused of being
behind hundreds of extrajudicial executions. According
to official data, close to 18,000 people died in
connection with "inviting government opposition" between
2016 and May 2019.
Regime-based militias control many neighborhoods.
Citizens often have to show a special ID document to
access social service and subsidized food, which gives
the authorities control over them. At the same time, the
economic crisis has caused severe distress and triggered
mass emigration (see Economic overview and Population
Venezuela is also extremely violent, and the
situation has greatly worsened during the escalated
crisis in recent years. According to the organization
Observatorio venezolano de violencia (OVV), almost
27,000 people were murdered in 2017, which means almost
90 murders per 100,000 residents - with margin the
highest figure in the world for a country where there is
no war. Caracas was ranked the same year, by a Mexican
organization, as the city in the world where the
homicide rate is highest: 130 per 100,000 population. A
decrease in the murder rate was noted in 2018, but it
can be misleading as it is based on a population figure
that does not reflect the extensive emigration.
According to OVV, the proportion of murders that the
security forces are behind has also increased and now
amounts to one third, corresponding to approximately
7,500 murders in 2018.
Corruption is systematic and permeates society.
Venezuela is ranked 173 out of 180 countries in the
organization Transparency International's corruption
index (the full list is here). It is the worst location
in the entire Western Hemisphere. In the index that
measures political and civil rights, as well as freedom
of expression and press, only Cuba on the American
continents falls even further.
Freedom of expression and media
The constitution guarantees freedom of press and
expression, but it has been dismantled step by step
since Hugo Chávez took office as president. Both
government-friendly and opposition media have been
politicized, and independent news sources are hurting
The authorities are pursuing media that is considered
to publish "disruptive" information. Laws that have been
extended to include the Internet contain vague wording
about "disrupting public order", conducting "war
propaganda" or "degrading authorities". Reporting on
environmental degradation, the black exchange rate for
currency or lack of basic commodities in the stores
belong to such journalism that has caused the
authorities to act. A law passed in the fall of 2017
makes it possible to sentence up to 20 years in prison
for disseminating "intolerant" information, via both
traditional and social media. The legislation restricts
the activities of journalists and leads to
The state also pursues government-critical votes
through regime-supported legal processes, tax claims and
advertising restrictions. It appears that individual
journalists and entire editors are subjected to physical
attacks by both security forces and civilians. The state
has closed dozens of newspapers and radio and TV
stations. International media has also been forced away.
Lack of printing ink, paper and other material means
that several magazines have had to cut down on their
editions or switch to publishing online only.
Venezuela is ranked 147 out of 180 countries on the
Reporters Without Borders list of press freedom in the
world (for the full list, see here).
Judicial system and legal security
The judicial system in Venezuela has become
increasingly politicized and less independent of state
power. Legal security is weak and opposites are often
persecuted with the law as a tool. In the World Justice
Project's index of how the rule of law works in 126
countries, Venezuela ends 2019 in the absolute jumble.
After the change of power in 1999, major changes in
the judiciary began with the dismissal of almost half of
all the country's judges. From 2004, the President and
the National Assembly took control of the Supreme Court
by appointing loyal judges and creating new
opportunities to dismiss incumbent judges. Thereafter,
the court went to practice the government's cases. Even
worse after the opposition victory in the parliamentary
elections in 2015. Before the newly elected parliament
took office, new judges were appointed in almost
coup-shaped forms and the Supreme Court has since been
pronounced regime loyal.
The conditions in the country's prisons are poor.
Thousands of prisoners are held for long periods in
detention without trial. Prison riots are common and
hundreds of people are killed each year in outbreaks of
violence in prisons. The number of prisoners is more
than three times greater than what the prisons are built
for. Prisons are largely controlled by armed interns.
Police and military are guilty of assault, assault
and torture in connection with suspected arrests. There
are also reports of extrajudicial executions. Most
abuses never lead to prosecution.
Venezuela was the first in the world to abolish the
death penalty for all crimes, it already happened in