Just over a month from now, on Jan. 10, Nicolas Maduro is scheduled to be sworn in again as president of Venezuela. The occasion won’t be without controversy – some 50 countries failed to recognize the elections in May that set Maduro up for another term in office – raising familiar questions about his government’s staying power. For the past year, Maduro’s administration has appeared to be hanging on by a thread, and Venezuela’s various crises show no sign of abating.
It is, by now, an all too familiar story, that of the country’s seemingly inexorable slide deeper and deeper into chaos. Low oil prices are the scapegoat most commonly assigned to the country’s recent decline. The narrative explains how the economy can now be on the brink of collapse after flourishing for years under high oil prices, but it fails to account for all of Venezuela’s problems. The price of oil does little to explain, for example, the degradation of the country’s institution