Ep. 7 | Nicaragua and Venezuela, Parallels and Patronage (with Ryan Berg, Ph.D.)

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Nicaragua is a country that is going through many of the same elements of a political crises as Venezuela. The Central American country is ruled by a corrupt dictatorship under a man named Daniel Ortega, who, like his counterpart and close friend Maduro, rigged elections and brutally represses protests to his decades of consolidated rule alongside his wife Rosario Murillo, who serves as the country’s vice president.

In absolute terms, the repression's 2018 death toll (over 300) is comparable to that of Venezuela, but relative to Nicaragua's much smaller population, it ranks as one of the worst human rights crises Latin America has seen in decades.

Much of the political discontent stems from cuts to social security programs that were financed by Venezuelan aid and oil subsidies. For nearly a decade, Nicaragua received billions of dollars from Venezuela a part of the "PetroCaribe" program, a grand-scale project of oil exchanges with countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that ultimately served as a means of patronage for Venezuela to exert influence among allies throughout the hemisphere.

As Nicaragua heads towards presidential elections next year, I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the parallels between Nicaragua and Venezuela to determine whether these parallels are by coincidence, or by design.

To answer this question, I’m joined in this episode by Ryan Berg, a research follow at the American Enterprise Institute, where he focuses on transnational organized crime and Latin American foreign policy. Before joining AEI, Dr. Berg served as a research consultant at the World Bank, a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil, and a visiting doctoral fellow at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. He has also worked in Peru and São Paulo, Brazil. Dr. Berg obtained a PhD and an MPhil in political science and an MSc in global governance and diplomacy from the University of Oxford. Earlier, he obtained a BA in government and theology from Georgetown University.

Ryan has been following both Venezuela and Nicaragua very closely. In this episode, he provides a crash course on the political crisis in Nicaragua, points out some of the parallels between Nicaragua and Venezuela, and recommendations that the United States and international community should consider ahead of presidential elections set to be held next year.

Twitter: @RyanBergPhD

Restoring democracy in Nicaragua: Escalating efforts against the Ortega-Murillo regime

Impact of the 2017 sanctions on Venezuela: Revisiting the evidence

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