Venezuelan political system has been generally and wrongly overemphasized,
thus obscuring the importance of other variables. Second, this chapter has argued
that the key to understand the contemporary system is an understanding of its
consociational nature. Third, it has highlighted the distinguishing characteristics
of the six democratic administrations. Fourth, it has shown how the consociational framework imposes limits on the policy choices available to policy makers
but also how, in spite of some basic continuities, differences across parties and
administrations do matter. Finally, it has speculated on the theoretical implications of all that, emphasizing the need and usefulness of differentiating state
and regime. This distinction and the parallel one between dominant classes and
ruling elites, together with the emphasis placed on political engineering, have
shed some additional light on the nature and implications of the disjuncture
between politics and economics, thus providing a more dynamic and comprehensive understanding of Venezuelan politics.
B. S. McBeth, Juan Vicente Gómez and the Oil Companies in Venezuela: 19081935 ( Cambridge,
England: Cambridge University Press, 1983), pp. 129-31.
For an interpretation of the relation between petroleum and the quasi-consociational
nature of the Venezuelan democracy and of the implications of the pact-making activities
of the late 1950s and early 1960s, see
Terry Karl "Petroleum and Political Pacts: The
Transition to Democracy in Venezuela" ( The Wilson Center, Latin American Program,
Working Paper No. 107, 1982).
Diego Abente Brun, "Economic Policy Making in a Democratic Regime: The
Case of Venezuela," Ph.D. dissertation, University of New Mexico, 1984, p. 67.
4 Ibid., p. 65
for 1975 figures; 1982 figures for Venezuela: calculations by the author
Banco Central de Venezuela, Informe Económico 1983
( Caracas: Banco Central, 1983) for other countries: Organización de Estados Americanos [ OEA], Boletón Estadístico 1985 ( Washington, D.C.: OEA, 1985). The point made here refers solely to the
extractive capability of the state vis-á-vis the domestic sector of the economy.
Banco Central de Venezuela, La Economia Venezolana en los Ultimos Treinta
Años ( Caracas: Italgráfica, 1971), p. 259.
International Labour Office ( ILO), Freedom of Association and Conditions of Work
in Venezuela ( Geneva: ILO, 1950), pp. 104-5.
John D. Powell, Political Mobilization of the Venezuelan Peasant ( Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1971), p. 77. For an analysis of the patterns of sociopolitical mobilization between 1936 and 1945, see pp. 44-64.
Freedom of Association and Conditions of Work in Venezuela, Observations of
the Government of Venezuela ( Geneva: ILO, 1951), p. 129 for the latter figure. For the
former, ILO, Freedom of Association, p. 129.
Freedom of Association, p. 146.
10 Ibid., p. 26,
Edwin Lieuwen, Petroleum in Venezuela, A History
( Berkeley: University of California Press, 1954), p. 110
Tomas E. Carrillo Batalla, Polótica Fiscal ( Caracas: Ediciones del Concejo Municipal del Distrito Federal, 1964).