As oil export revenues for many decades made it possible to import a large proportion of the goods needed by the country, it took quite a long time before Venezuela seriously invested in building a domestic manufacturing industry. Even today, the industrial sector is dominated by oil extraction and oil refining.
It was not until the 1970s and 1980s that governments began to use oil revenues to support other industries than those associated with oil extraction. In particular, the country sought to encourage the industrial companies that utilized the country’s own raw materials.
During the politically troubled years in the early 2000s, industrial production declined. Hundreds of thousands of businesses were closed down and some 200,000 jobs were lost. The political and economic crisis of recent years has further aggravated the situation.
Since the turn of the millennium, the state has taken over a wide range of oil companies, cement factories, electricity companies, telecom companies and food factories.
- COUNTRYAAH: List of top trading partners of Venezuela. Includes countries that imported most shipments from and exported most goods to the country.
Rubber and plastic products, metal products, textiles, transport equipment, food and tobacco are important products in the manufacturing industry.
HD kicks opposition leaders
17th of June
The Supreme Court sets aside the leadership of two of the main opposition parties: Justice First (PJ) and Democratic Action (AD). In both cases, the entire party board is replaced. The faithful court also appoints new party leaders who are accused of stealthily being allies to the ruling socialist party PSUV. Bernabé Gutiérrez, who is commissioned to lead AD, has previously been excluded from the party because of allegations of cooperation with the regime.
Opposition withdraws from elections
Eleven opposition parties, including the four largest, state that they do not intend to stand in the upcoming parliamentary elections, a few days after the government-controlled Supreme Court has appointed a new electoral court. According to the opposition, the new electoral authority is too regime loyal, and they receive support from the United States whose Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo talks about “the last step” to cheat in the next election. No date has been set, but elections to the National Assembly are expected during the year.
Donor conference for refugees
An international donor conference for the millions of people fleeing Venezuela provides over $ 650 million. UN Human Rights Commissioner Filippo Grandi says the outcome is “exceptional”. Nearly 40 countries are represented in a conference held via link due to the corona pandemic. The EU states that € 145 million has been allocated for humanitarian aid to Venezuelan refugees in neighboring countries, mainly Colombia, Peru and Ecuador.
HD approves the President
The Supreme Court approves Luis Parra as President of the National Assembly, almost five months after the tense situation when both Parra and opposition leader Juan Guaidó claimed the post (see January 2020). Parra belongs to the opposition but has broken with Guaidó following allegations of corruption. Guaidó has called Parra a “dictator’s henchman”. The National Assembly is the only governing body in Venezuela that the opposition to some extent controls.
Iranian oil tanks ahead
Escorted by the Venezuelan fleet, a first of five Iranian oil tankers reaches the oil refinery in El Palito, with a supply of gasoline and other oil products. The chronic fuel shortage in Venezuela has worsened during the corona pandemic, which has slowed operations and transport around the world. Oil Minister Tareck El Aissami thanks Iran in a TV statement saying that the deliveries are an expression of Venezuela’s self-determination. The Iranian convoy has attracted attention in the United States, which in April sent several warships to the area, citing organized crime. Both Venezuela and Iran are subject to US sanctions, and the Washington government is disapproving of the closer cooperation between the two countries.
Aftermath after invasion attempts
A week after the coastal invasion attempt, 45 people are said to have been arrested, including the two Americans accused of, among other things, terrorism. The head of a private American security company in Florida, Silvercorp, has told us he hired mercenaries working in Venezuela to try to overthrow President Maduro. The government has issued an international arrest warrant for two advisers to opposition leader Juan Guidó, who, however, lives in the United States. They are accused of cooperating with Silvercorp. In the US, President Donald Trump and his Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo deny any knowledge of the invasion attempt. Democrats in the US Congress are demanding information on what lies behind the data.
Invasion attempts averted
The government claims to have averted an attempt to invade “terrorist legionaries” who came from Colombia. According to Interior Minister Néstor Reverol, mercenaries are said to have arrived in fast-moving boats and left the country in Macuto in the state of Vargas, just over three miles north of Caracas. The aim would be to murder government leaders. Eight people must have been killed and two arrested. The opposition dismisses the information that was invented, as the Colombian government does. The following day, President Nicolás Maduro states that 13 people have been arrested, including two Americans whose passports he is showing.
US-prosecuted vice president becomes oil minister
President Nicolás Maduro appoints Vice President Tareck El Aissami as new Minister of Oil with the task of “restructuring and reorganizing” the crisis-hit oil industry. El Aissami is indicted in the United States for drug offenses and in August 2019 was listed on the US list of most wanted drug smugglers. A cousin of former President Hugo Chávez is appointed acting director of the state oil company PDVSA. Both are replacing Manuel Quevedo who received his dual assignment in 2017.
The EU supports the US transition plan
The EU expresses its support for the proposal presented by the US a few days earlier on a transitional government in Venezuela, with sanctions relief as a result. The statement is made by EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell. President Nicolás Maduro and his government have rejected the proposal.
The United States offers sanctions relief in sharing power
The United States is willing to withdraw its sanctions against Venezuela if the political leadership agrees to share power with the opposition and prepare for elections within a year. According to the proposal, President Nicolás Maduro would “step aside” and a transitional council rule until elections can be held. Neither Maduro nor opposition leader Juan Guaidó – whom the US recognizes as the country’s legitimate leader – would be allowed to join the transitional council.
US sues Maduro for “drug terrorism”
The United States is prosecuting President Nicolás Maduro and 15 of his close associates for “drug terrorism. A $ 15 million reward is promised for information that leads to Maduro being arrested. According to the indictment presented by US Attorney General William Barr, the accused have flushed the United States with cocaine and weapons, with the aim of undermining the health of Americans. The US has long accused Maduro of leading a corrupt and brutal regime, but tensions between the countries are now escalating seriously. Among the other defendants are the Minister of Defense and the Supreme Court Chief Justice, as well as two leaders of the Colombian left-wing guerrilla Farc.
The IMF refuses Venezuela loans
The IMF lending agency refuses to process a $ 5 billion loan application from President Nicolás Maduro intended to strengthen Venezuela’s capacity to deal with the corona pandemic. The IMF justifies the decision to lack “clarity” regarding international recognition by the Government of Maduro. The fact that Maduro has turned to the IMF, an institution he has long been critical of, points to desperation. It is likely that Russia and China, which have long supported Venezuela, now deny continued loans. In addition, Cuba cannot provide medical assistance as much as before. The coronavirus threatens to progress hard in Venezuela, where other diseases such as measles, diphtheria, malaria and dengue are already ravaging and health care is characterized by a lack of material. Colombia’s decision to close its borders due to corona means that the smuggling business has stopped.
Shutdowns due to the corona virus
The government is ordering “collective quarantine” in seven states, including Caracas, to prevent the spread of the new corona virus. Caracas becomes the first capital in Latin America to be shut down due to the virus that has already caused widespread social disruption in China, Iran and many European countries. Only grocery stores are allowed to stay open and people are encouraged to stay in their homes. Police patrol the streets. So far, relatively few cases of corona infection have been detected in Latin America, but the spread is expected to increase significantly. Due to the prolonged crisis with major shortcomings, not least in Venezuela, there is a great risk that the situation will become very serious in the event of large and rapid spread of infection. President Nicolás Maduro has also banned flights to and from Europe and several countries in the region. Schools have been closed and sporting events have been canceled.
Portuguese airline is switched off
The government announces that the Portuguese airline TAP will be suspended from Venezuela for three months, for “security reasons”. The reason is accusations that TAP would have allowed explosives on the flight between Lisbon and Caracas that opposition leader Juan Guidós and his uncle Juan Márquez made a week earlier. Juan Márquez is still in custody. TAP is also accused of hiding Guaidó’s identity. Portugal condemns the closure and Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa calls the whole deal “unacceptable and incomprehensible”. TAP is one of the few foreign airlines still flying in Venezuela.
Riot when Guaidó returns
When opposition leader Juan Guidó returns to his home country, three weeks after he left despite a departure ban, he is cursed as a “fascist” and subjected to physical exertions at Caracas Airport. Among those who go to Guaidó are employees of the state-run airline Conavisa, which has just been subject to sanctions from the United States. Upon arrival, Guaidó’s uncle Juan Márquez is also arrested, who is accused of wearing flashlights with explosive substances.
Guaidó in Washington
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó is treated as a head of state during a visit to Washington DC and gets the honor of attending Congress as President Donald Trump gives his annual speech to the nation. During the speech, Trump promises to “crush” Nicolás Maduro’s regime. Guaidó also meets Vice President Mike Pence and later tweets that he is working with the United States “for Venezuela’s freedom.”
Report on the death victims in the protests
A Venezuelan non-profit organization reports that 67 people were killed in connection with the unrest in 2019. Six of the victims were subjected to extrajudicial executions after participating in protests while 59 were shot dead by police, the army or militia groups loyal to President Maduro’s regime. A person died in a heart attack. The organization OVCS, which studies social conflicts, is found to have the majority of deaths in January and February.
Guaidó throws out of Venezuela
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó travels to Colombia to take part in a counter-terrorism meeting, and for the second time defies an exit ban with which the Supreme Court charged him. The last time was in February 2019. It is not clear how Guaidó got out of Venezuela without stopping. In Colombia, opposition leader meets President Iván Duque, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and foreign ministers from a number of Latin American countries, who mainly support Guaidó in the power struggle against President Nicolás Maduro. Guaidó then travels to Europe where, among other things, he visits the EU headquarters in Brussels and participates in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. In Davos, in a speech to politicians and business leaders, he appeals for international help to bring about change in Venezuela. Guaidó says the country is facing a ”
Members storm the parliament building
7 th of January
Chaotic scenes take place at the National Assembly when opposition leader Juan Guaidó and hundreds of other members manage to penetrate the building despite attempts by the National Guard to prevent them. It happens two days after Luis Parra was elected President after all the opposition members were shut out, in what Guaidó calls a “parliamentary coup”. As Guaidó and those loyal to him now step in, the loyal members leave the building and the electricity is turned off. Guaidó is sworn in as President in the light of the present mobile phones.
Two exclaim to the President
The bitter political contradictions in Venezuela become apparent again when two people proclaim themselves the newly elected President of the National Assembly. The incumbent President – and the self-proclaimed interim president – Juan Guaidó and members of the faithful him are prevented by the National Guard from even entering the parliament building. Guaidó therefore holds an improvised session in the government-critical newspaper El Nacional’s premises and swears the oath as President again, reportedly with the support of 100 of the 167 members. In the parliament building, Luis Parra, in the absence of the opposition, is elected President and is immediately supported by President Nicolás Maduro. According to the Constitution, the President is to be elected once a year.