1. Consider evidence from both sides. Note that the debate over this question has become quite polarised; you need to think critically about your sources, whether pro or anti Chavez.
  2. Take into account the fact that there may have been changes in the regime since Chavez took power in 1999. Has Venezuela become more (less) authoritarian since Chavez took power, even if it is not (yet) a dictatorship?
  3. Consider the possibility that Venezuela may not be either a democracy or a dictatorship. If it is neither (or has become neither), how should we classify its current regime?


  1. You should consult first of all at least some of the articles and books tagged "Venezuela" in our course bibliography. Do not simply go looking for random blogs and commentary in the first place! These articles, especially the ones noted in the course outline and included in your course notes, should give you a good sense of the debate about Venezuelan democracy and the broader historical context of Venezuelan politics.
  2. Look also at what relatively respected international organizations say about Venezuela. There are a number of reports worth looking at:
  3. You also need to think about how we should classify political regimes. For this purpose, some of the sources tagged "political regime classifications" or "measurement" in the bibliography might be useful.
  4. Relatedly, you may want to consider how standard regime classifications rank Venezuela since the 1990s (e.g., Polity IV,Freedom House, the DD data by Cheibub, Gandhi and Vreeland, the unified democracy scores, etc.) Are these classifications accurate?
  5. Finally, there are many blogs and websites dedicated to covering Venezuelan politics, from the extremely anti-Chavez to the extremely pro-Chavez.
    • is probably the major pro-Chavez website in English.
    • Caracas Chronicles is a good starting point for looking at opposition blogs in English.
    • You can always look at my delicious feed on Venezuela news and commentary (a collection of web clippings) for more recent news and commentary (note this is biased towards English language and opposition blogs).