Rice University experts available to discuss Sunday’s Venezuelan election


David Ruth

Rice University experts available to discuss Sunday’s Venezuelan election

HOUSTON — (July 28, 2017) — Rice University has two experts available to discuss political and energy industry implications of Venezuela’s nationwide vote Sunday to elect a 545-member assembly. The plan, which is being pushed by President Nicolas Maduro, would strengthen presidential power and likely move the government quickly toward rewriting the country’s constitution and creating a Cuban-style authoritarianism, all but ending democracy.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro image courtesy Shutterstock/Rice University

Mark Jones, professor of political science and a fellow in political science at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, speaks English and Spanish and is available throughout the weekend.

“Thirty years ago Venezuela was one of Latin America’s most consolidated and successful democracies,” Jones said. “Since that time, Venezuela has progressively moved closer and closer to the unenviable status of dictatorship, with this decline especially pronounced over the past 20 years. Sunday’s vote, whose outcome has been predetermined by the government of President Nicolas Maduro, stands to be the final nail in the coffin of Venezuelan democracy.

“The international community is left with few options to restore democracy in Venezuela in the short term,” he said. “The Maduro government retains the support of trade partners China and Russia as well as that of many Latin American countries such as Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua. The Organization of American States has to date been ineffective in halting Venezuela’s slide toward dictatorship, and the United States is not seen as a neutral actor in the dispute, due to its history of opposition to Chavismo, first under President Hugo Chavez (1999-2013) and subsequently under his successor, President Nicolas Maduro.”

Francisco Monaldi, a fellow in Latin American energy policy at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, also speaks English and Spanish and is available throughout the weekend.

“The Constituent Assembly, with only government candidates, would mark the end of whatever is left of Venezuela’s democracy and rule of law,” Monaldi said. “This would further isolate the country and risk the imposition of economic sanctions by the U.S. The radical discourse of some government candidates asking for further nationalization of the oil industry poses an additional risk for international oil companies.

“The continued political crisis and the possibility of sanctions, combined with a likely default on the external debt, would deepen the harsh economic recession and risk increasing inflation to four digits,” he said.

For more information or to schedule an interview with Jones, contact him directly on his cellphone at 832-466-6535. To schedule and interview with Monaldi, contact David Ruth, director of national media relations at Rice, at david@rice.edu or 713-348-6327.

Rice University has a VideoLink ReadyCam TV interview studio. ReadyCam is capable of transmitting broadcast-quality standard-definition and high-definition video directly to all news media organizations around the world 24/7.


Image for download:

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro image courtesy Shutterstock/Rice University

Follow Jones on Twitter at @MarkPJonesTX.
Follow Monaldi on Twitter @fmonaldi.
Follow Rice’s Baker Institute @BakerInstitute.
Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.

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About David Ruth

David Ruth is director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.