Nicolás Maduro

Nicolás Maduro

Nicolás Maduro
Nicolás Maduro in meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Saadabad Palace.jpg
 
President of Venezuela
Incumbent
Assumed office
19 April 2013
Interim: 5 March 2013 – 19 April 2013
Vice President Jorge Arreaza (2013–16)
Aristóbulo Istúriz (2016–17)
Tareck El Aissami (since 2017)
Preceded by Hugo Chávez
Secretary General of the Non-Aligned Movement
Incumbent
Assumed office
17 September 2016
Preceded by Hassan Rouhani
President pro tempore of the Union of South American Nations
In office
23 April 2016 – 21 April 2017
Preceded by Tabaré Vázquez
Succeeded by Mauricio Macri
Vice President of Venezuela
In office
13 October 2012 – 5 March 2013
President Hugo Chávez
Preceded by Elías Jaua
Succeeded by Jorge Arreaza
Minister of Foreign Affairs
In office
9 August 2006 – 15 January 2013
President Hugo Chávez
Preceded by Alí Rodríguez Araque
Succeeded by Elías Jaua
President of the National Assembly of Venezuela
In office
5 January 2005 – 7 August 2006
Preceded by Francisco Ameliach
Succeeded by Cilia Flores
 
Personal details
Born Nicolás Maduro Moros
(1962-11-23) 23 November 1962 (age 54)
Caracas, Venezuela
Political party United Socialist Party (2007–present)
Fifth Republic Movement (Before 2007)
Spouse(s) Cilia Flores
Children Nicolás Maduro Guerra[1]
Residence Miraflores Palace
Signature

Nicolás Maduro Moros (Spanish: [nikoˈlas maˈðuɾo ˈmoɾos]😉 is a Venezuelan politician who has been the President of Venezuela since assuming office in 2013. Previously he served under President Hugo Chávez as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2006 to 2013 and as Vice President of Venezuela from 2012 to 2013.

Starting off as a bus driver, Maduro rose to become a trade union leader, before being elected to the National Assembly in 2000. He was appointed to a number of positions within the Venezuelan Government under Chávez, ultimately being made Foreign Minister in 2006. He was described during this time as the “most capable administrator and politician of Chávez’s inner circle”. After Chávez’s death was announced on 5 March 2013, Maduro assumed the powers and responsibilities of the president. A special election was held on 14 April 2013 to elect a new president, and Nicolas Maduro won with 50.62% of the votes as the candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela. He was formally inaugurated on 19 April.

Maduro has ruled Venezuela by decree since 19 November 2013. As a result of Chávez’s policies and Maduro’s continuation of them, Venezuela’s socioeconomic status declined, with crime, inflation, poverty and hunger increasing. Shortages in Venezuela and decreased living standards resulted in protests beginning in 2014 that escalated into daily riots nationwide by 2016, with Maduro’s popularity suffering. The loss of popularity saw the election of an opposition-led National Assembly in 2015 and a movement toward recalling Maduro in 2016, though Maduro still maintains power through loyal political bodies, such as the Supreme Court and electoral authority, as well as the military.Maduro, like Chávez, has been accused of authoritarian leadership, with conventional media describing him as a dictator, especially following the suspension of the recall movement that was directed towards him. Following the 2017 Venezuelan Constitutional Assembly election, the United States sanctioned Maduro which froze US assets and prohibited him from entering the country, stating that he was a “dictator”.

  • Biography

Family background

Nicolás Maduro Moros was born on 23 November 1962 in Caracas, Venezuela into a working-class family.

His father, Nicolás Maduro Garcia, who was a prominent trade union leader, died in a motor vehicle accident on 22 April 1989. His mother, Teresa de Jesús Moros, was born in Cúcuta, a Colombian border town at the boundary with Venezuela on “the 1st of June of 1929, as it appears in the National Registry of Colombia.”

Nicolás Maduro was raised as a Roman Catholic, although in 2012 it was reported that he was a follower of Indian guru Sathya Sai Baba and previously visited the guru in India in 2005.

Racially, Maduro has indicated that he identifies as mestizo (“mixed [race]”), stating that he includes as a part of his mestizaje (“racial mixture”) admixture from the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and Africans. He stated in a 2013 interview that “my grandparents were Jewish, from a Sephardic Moorish background, and converted to Catholicism in Venezuela.”

Early life and education

Officially, Maduro was born into a leftist family, with his father being a union leader and “militant dreamer of the Movimiento Electoral del Pueblo (MEP).” The only male of four siblings, he had “three sisters, María Teresa, Josefina, and Anita”.

Nicolás MaduroMaduro was raised in “Calle 14”, a street in Los Jardines, El Valle, a working-class neighborhood on the western outskirts of Caracas. He attended a public high school, the Liceo José Ávalos, in El Valle. His introduction to politics was when he became a member of his high school’s student union. According to school records, Maduro never graduated from high school.

At 24 years of age, “Maduro travelled through the streets of Havana with other militants of leftist organizations in South America that moved to Cuba in 1986, to attend a one year course in the Escuela Nacional de Cuadros Julio Antonio Mella, a centre of political indoctrination directed by the Union of Communist Youth.”

Marriage and family

Maduro is married to Cilia Flores, a lawyer and politician who replaced Maduro as President of the National Assembly in August 2006, when he resigned to become Minister of Foreign Affairs, becoming the first woman to serve as President of the National Assembly. The two had been in a romantic relationship since the 1990s when Flores was Hugo Chávez’s lawyer following the 1992 Venezuelan coup d’état attempts and were married in July 2013 months after Maduro became president.

Maduro has one son, Nicolás Maduro Guerra, whom he appointed to senior government posts: Chief of the presidency’s Special Inspectors Body, head of the National Film School, and a seat in the National Assembly, while Flores has an adopted son, Efraín Campos, who is her nephew from her deceased sister. He has two granddaughters, Paula and Sofía.

Nicolás Maduro

Early political career

Maduro found employment as a bus driver for many years for the Caracas Metro company. He began his political career in the 1980s, by becoming an unofficial trade unionist representing the bus drivers of the Caracas Metro system. He was also employed as a bodyguard for José Vicente Rangel during Rangel’s unsuccessful 1983 presidential campaign.

MBR-200

MBR-200 members meeting in 1997. Maduro is on the far left and Chávez is in the center.
MBR-200 members meeting in 1997. Maduro is on the far left and Chávez is in the center.
Maduro, beside Tareck El Aissami, present Vladimir Putin the Key to the City of Caracas in April 2010.
Maduro, beside Tareck El Aissami, present Vladimir Putin the Key to the City of Caracas in April 2010.

 

In the early 1990s, he joined MBR-200 and campaigned for the release of Hugo Chávez when Chávez was jailed for his role in the 1992 Venezuelan coup d’état attempts. In the late 1990s, Maduro was instrumental in founding the Movement of the Fifth Republic, which supported Chávez in his run for president in 1998.

National Assembly

Maduro was elected on the MVR ticket to the Venezuelan Chamber of Deputies in 1998, to the National Constituent Assembly in 1999, and finally to the National Assembly in 2000, at all times representing the Capital District. The Assembly elected him as Speaker, a role he held from 2005 until 2006.

Foreign Minister

On 9 August 2006, Maduro was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs. According to Rory Carroll, Maduro did not know how to speak any foreign languages while serving as the Minister of Foreign Affairs. During his time as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Venezuela’s foreign policy stances included support for Libya under Muammar Gaddafi, and a turnaround in relations with Colombia. Maduro served as the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs until he was appointed to the vice presidency by President Chavez in 2012.

Vice President of Venezuela

Vice President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro
Vice President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro

Prior to his appointment to the vice presidency, Maduro had already been chosen by Chávez in 2011 to succeed him in the presidency if he were to die from cancer. This choice was made due to Maduro’s loyalty to Chávez and because of his good relations with other chavista hard-liners such as Elías Jaua, former minister Jesse Chacón and Jorge Rodríguez. Bolivarian officials predicted that following Chávez’s death, Maduro would have more difficulties politically and that instability in the country would arise.

Chávez appointed Maduro Vice President of Venezuela on 13 October 2012, shortly after his victory in that month’s presidential election. Two months later, on 8 December 2012, Chávez announced that his recurring cancer had returned and that he would be returning to Cuba for emergency surgery and further medical treatment. Chávez said that should his condition worsen and a new presidential election be called to replace him, Venezuelans should vote for Maduro to succeed him. This was the first time that Chávez named a potential successor to his movement, as well as the first time he publicly acknowledged the possibility of his demise.

Chávez’s endorsement of Maduro sidelined Diosdado Cabello, a former Vice President and powerful Socialist Party official with ties to the armed forces, who had been widely considered a top candidate to be Chávez’s successor. After Maduro was endorsed by Chávez, Cabello “immediately pledged loyalty” to both men.

Interim president

Nicolás Maduro serving as interim president
Nicolás Maduro serving as interim president
 
My firm opinion, as clear as the full moon – irrevocable, absolute, total – is…that you elect Nicolas Maduro as President. I ask this of you from my heart. He is one of the young leaders with the greatest ability to continue, if I cannot.

Hugo Chávez (December 2012)

Upon the death of Hugo Chávez on 5 March 2013, Maduro assumed the powers and responsibilities of the president. He appointed Jorge Arreaza to take his place as vice president. Since Chávez died within the first four years of his term, the Constitution of Venezuela states that a presidential election had to be held within 30 days of his death. Maduro was unanimously adopted as the Socialist Party’s candidate in that election. At the time of his assumption of temporary power, opposition leaders argued that Maduro violated articles 229, 231, and 233 of the Venezuelan Constitution, by assuming power over the President of the National Assembly.

In his speech during the short ceremony in which he formally took over the powers of the president, Nicolás Maduro said: “Compatriots, I am not here out of personal ambition, out of vanity, or because my surname Maduro is a part of the rancid oligarchy of this country. I am not here because I represent financial groups, neither of the oligarchy nor of American imperialism… I am not here to protect mafias nor groups nor factions.”

President of Venezuela

 Nicolás Maduro assuming office as President of Venezuela on 19 April 2013
Nicolás Maduro assuming office as President of Venezuela on 19 April 2013
 The succession to the presidency of Maduro, according to Corales and Penfold, was due to multiple mechanisms that were established by Maduro’s predecessor, Hugo Chávez. Initially, oil prices were high enough for Nicolás Maduro to maintain necessary spending for support, specifically with the military. Foreign ties that were established by Chávez were also utilised by Maduro as he applied skills that he had learned while serving as a foreign minister for his advantage. Finally, the PSUV and government institutions aligned behind Maduro, and “the regime used the institutions of repression and autocracy, also created under Chávez, to become more repressive vis-à-vis the opposition”.
 Maduro in February 2017
Maduro in February 2017
 

On 14 April 2013, Maduro was elected President of Venezuela, narrowly defeating opposition candidate Henrique Capriles with just 1.5% of the vote separating the two candidates. Capriles immediately demanded a recount, refusing to recognize the outcome as valid. Nicolás Maduro was later formally inaugurated as President on 19 April, after the election commission had promised a full audit of the election results. On 24 October 2013, he announced the creation of a new agency, the Vice Ministry of Supreme Happiness, to coordinate all the social programmes.

On 2 May 2016, opposition leaders in Venezuela handed in a petition to the National Electoral Council (CNE) calling for a recall referendum, with the populace to vote on whether to remove Maduro from office. On 5 July 2016, the Venezuelan intelligence service detained five opposition activists involved with the recall referendum, with two other activists of the same party, Popular Will, also arrested. After delays in verification of the signatures, protestors alleged the government was intentionally delaying the process. The government, in response, argued the protestors were part of a plot to topple Nicolás Maduro. On 1 August 2016, CNE announced that enough signatures had been validated for the recall process to continue. While opposition leaders pushed for the recall to be held before the end of 2016, allowing a new presidential election to take place, the government vowed a recall would not occur until 2017, ensuring the current vice president would potentially come to power.

President Nicolás Maduro speaking at a Venezuelan Constituent Assembly session on 10 August 2017.
President Nicolás Maduro speaking at a Venezuelan Constituent Assembly session on 10 August 2017.

In May 2017, President Maduro proposed the 2017 Venezuelan Constituent Assembly election, which was later held on 30 July 2017 despite wide international condemnation.Upcoming presidential elections, which Nicolás Maduro would most likely lose, have the possibility of being delayed from their planned dates under a new constitution since no timeline was given for the rewrite. The United States sanctioned President Maduro following the election, labeling him as a “dictator”, preventing him from entering the United States.

Rule by decree

Beginning six months after being elected, Maduro has ruled by decree for the majority of his presidency: from 19 November 2013 to 19 November 2014, 15 March 2015 to 31 December 2015, 15 January 2016 to present.

Policies

UNASUR special meeting to discuss the diversion of Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane in Europe, 4 July 2013
UNASUR special meeting to discuss the diversion of Bolivian President Evo Morales‘ plane in Europe, 4 July 2013

Many of the policies that were in action throughout Maduro’s presidency were the same or similar to policies created by his predecessor Hugo Chávez. Maduro stuck to Chávez’s policies in order to remain popular to those who find a connection between the two. Despite the increasingly difficult crises facing Venezuela such as a faltering economy and high crime rate, Nicolás Maduro continued the use of Chávez’s policies.According to Marsh, instead of making any policy changes, Maduro placed attention on his “hold on power by closing off the legal channels through which the opposition can act”. Shannon K. O’Neil of the Council on Foreign Relations stated that “After Chavez’s death, Maduro has just continued and accelerated the authoritarian and totalitarian policies of Chavez”.

According to Professor Ramón Piñango, a sociologist from the Venezuelan University of IESA, “Maduro has a very strong ideological orientation, close to the Communist ideology. Contrary to Diosdado, he is not very pragmatic.”

Domestic

Crime

President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro
President of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro

One of the first important presidential programs of Nicolás Maduro became the “Safe Homeland” program, a massive police and military campaign to build security in the country. 3,000 soldiers were deployed to decrease homicide in Venezuela, which has one of the highest rates of homicide in Latin America. Most of these troops were deployed in the state of Miranda (Greater Caracas), which has the highest homicide rate in Venezuela. According to the government, in 2012, more than 16,000 people were killed, a rate of 54 people per 100,000, although the Venezuela Violence Observatory, a campaign group, claims that the homicide rate was in fact 73 people per 100,000. The government claims that the Safe Homeland program has reduced homicides by 55%. The program had to be reinitiated one year later after the program’s creator, Miguel Rodríguez Torres, was replaced by Carmen Melendez Teresa Rivas. Murder also increased over the years since the program’s initiation according to the Venezuela Violence Observatory, with the murder rate increasing to 82 per 100,000 in 2014.

Economic policies

Maduro blamed capitalism for speculation that is driving high rates of inflation and creating widespread shortages of staples, and often said he was fighting an “economic war”, calling newly enacted economic measures “economic offensives” against political opponents he and loyalists state are behind an international economic conspiracy. However, Nicolás Maduro has been criticized for only concentrating on public opinion instead of tending to the practical issues economists have warned the Venezuelan government about or creating any ideas to improve the economic situation in Venezuela such as the “economic war”.

Venezuela was ranked as the top spot globally with the highest misery index score in 2013,2014, 2015 and 2016. In 2014, Venezuela’s economy entered an economic depression that has continued as of 2017.

Foreign policy

Maduro meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, 26 September 2016
Maduro meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, 26 September 2016
ALBA summit in Caracas, March 2017
ALBA summit in Caracas, March 2017

 Maduro has accused the United States of intervention in Venezuela several times with his allegations ranging from post-election violence by “neo-Nazi groups”, economic difficulties from what he called an “economic war” and various coup plots.The United States denied such accusations while analysts have called such allegations by Maduro as a way to distract Venezuelans from their problems.

In early 2015 the Obama administration signed an executive order which imposed targeted sanctions on 7 Venezuelan officials whom the White House argued were instrumental in human rights violations, persecution of political opponents and significant public corruption and said that the country posed an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” Maduro responded to the sanctions in a couple of ways. He wrote an open letter in a full page ad in The New York Times in March 2015, stating that Venezuelans were “friends of the American people” and called President Obama’s action of making targeted sanctions on the alleged human rights abusers a “unilateral and aggressive measure”. Examples of accusations of human rights abuses from the United States to Maduro’s government included the murder of a political activist prior to legislative elections in Venezuela. Nicolás Maduro threatened to sue the United States over an executive order issued by the Obama Administration that declared Venezuela to be a threat to American security.[103] He also planned to deliver 10 million signatures, or signatures from about 1/3 of Venezuela’s population, denouncing the United States’ decree declaring the situation in Venezuela an “extraordinary threat to US national security”. and ordered all schools in the country to hold an “anti-imperialist day” against the United States with the day’s activities including the “collection of the signatures of the students, and teaching, administrative, maintenance and cooking personnel”. Nicolás Maduro further ordered state workers to apply their signatures in protest, with some workers reporting that firings of state workers occurred due to their rejection of signing the executive order protesting the “Obama decree”. There were also reports that members of Venezuelan armed forces and their families were ordered to sign against the United States decree.

On 6 April 2015, twenty-five (25) ex-presidents issued called Declaración de Panamá, a statement denouncing the VII Cumbre de las Américas, what they called “democratic alteration” in Venezuela, promoted by the government of Nicolas Maduro. The statement calls for the immediate release of “political prisoners” in Venezuela. Among the former heads of government that have called for improvements in Venezuela are: Jorge Quiroga (Bolivia); Sebastián Piñera (Chile): Andrés Pastrana, Álvaro Uribe and Belisario Betancur (Colombia); Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia, Laura Chinchilla, Óscar Arias, Luis Alberto Monge (Costa Rica), Osvaldo Hurtado (Ecuador); Alfredo Cristiani and Armando Calderón (EL Salvador); José María Aznar (Spain); Felipe Calderón and Vicente Fox (México), Mireya Moscoso (Panamá), Alejandro Toledo (Perú) and Luis Alberto Lacalle (Uruguay).

Maduro has reached out to China for economic assistance while China has funneled billions of dollars from multiple loans into Venezuela. China is Venezuela’s second largest trade partner with two-thirds of Venezuelan exports to China composed of oil. According to Mark Jones, a Latin American expert of the Baker Institute, China was “investing for strategic reasons” rather than ideological similarities. The Venezuelan military has also used military equipment from China using the NORINCO VN-4 armoured vehicle against protesters during the 2014–15 Venezuelan protests, ordering hundreds more as a result of the demonstrations.

Controversies

2014–2017 Venezuelan protest
Sanctions

Canada

On 22 September 2017, the Canadian government sanctioned members of the Maduro government, including Nicolás Maduro, preventing Canadian nationals from participating in property and financial deals with him due to the rupture of Venezuela’s constitutional order.

United States

File:Nicolás MaduroAnnouncement of sanctions against Maduro by National Security Advisor, H. R. McMaster and Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin. sanctioned.webm
Announcement of sanctions against Maduro by National Security Advisor, H. R. McMaster and Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin.

On 26 July 2017, thirteen Bolivarian officials were sanctioned by the United States Department of Treasury due to their involvement with the 2017 Venezuelan Constitutional Assembly election.

After continuing with the Constitutional Assembly election, the United States sanctioned Maduro, becoming one of the few heads of state sanctioned by the United States, with Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin stating “Maduro is a dictator who disregards the will of the Venezuelan people”. Nicolás Maduro responded, saying he was “proud” of being sanctioned by the United States government.

CLAP program

A food box provided by CLAP, with the supplier receiving government funds owned by President Nicolas Maduro
A food box provided by CLAP, with the supplier receiving government funds owned by President Nicolas Maduro

Luisa Ortega Díaz, Chief Prosecutor of Venezuela from 2007 to 2017 revealed that President Maduro had been profiting from the shortages in Venezuela. The government-operated Local Supply and Production Committee (CLAP) that provides food to Venezuelans in need made contracts with Group Grand Limited, a group owned by Nicolás Maduro through frontmen Rodolfo Reyes, Álvaro Uguedo Vargas and Alex Saab. Group Grand Limited, a Mexican entity owned by Maduro, would sell foodstuffs to CLAP and receive government funds.

Recognition

Awards and orders Country Date Place Notes
Order of the Liberator  Venezuela 19 April 2013 Caracas, Venezuela Highest decoration of Venezuela, given to every president.
Order of the Liberator General San Martín  Argentina 8 May 2013 Buenos Aires, Argentina Highest decoration of Argentina awarded by political ally Cristina Kirchner. Revoked on 11 August 2017 by President Mauricio Macri for human rights violations.
Order of the Condor of the Andes  Bolivia 26 May 2013 La Paz, Bolivia Highest decoration of Bolivia.
Bicentenary Order of the Admirable Campaign  Venezuela 15 June 2013 Trujillo, Venezuela Venezuelan order.
Star of Palestine  Palestine 16 May 2014 Caracas, Venezuela Highest decoration of Palestine.
Order of Augusto César Sandino  Nicaragua 17 March 2015 Managua, Nicaragua Highest decoration of Nicaragua.
Order of José Martí  Cuba 18 March 2016 La Habana, Cuba Cuban order.
  • In 2014, Nicolás Maduro was named as one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. In the article, it explained that whether or not Venezuela collapses “now depends on Maduro” saying it also depends on whether Maduro “can step out of the shadow of his pugnacious predecessor and compromise with his opponents”.

       A Speech of Nicolás Maduro

A Speech of Nicolás Maduro  can be watch here.

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