Security & Strategic Review - May 2023

The power plays behind Maduro’s corruption purge in Venezuela

Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has not exactly built a reputation as an anti-corruption crusader. Since he took office ten years ago, Venezuela has plunged ever further down international NGO Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index, deteriorating from the world’s 16th most corrupt country in 2013 to the fourth most corrupt in 2022. It has been something of a surprise, therefore, to witness Maduro overseeing a major anti-corruption sweep that had resulted in at least 80 arrests as of late April and prompted the resignation of the influential oil minister, Tareck El Aissami. Previous such purges in the Maduro administration have appeared driven by factional rivalries, and speculation is rife as to possible ulterior motives for the crackdown.

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