Age: 23 November 1962, Caracas, Venezuela – 58 years old
Culture: Venezuelan, Catholic.
Career: Early life – trained as a political organizer in Cuba; 1980s – bus driver in Caracas, representative to the transit worker’s union; 1999 – Member of the National Constituent Assembly; 2000 – 2006 – Member of the National Assembly, 2005 – 2006 – President of the National Assembly; 2006 – 2012 – Foreign Minister of Venezuela; 2012 – 2013 – Vice President of Venezuela; 2013 – present – President of Venezuela
Family: Married to Cilia Flores since 2013. His son is Nicolás Maduro Guerra.
When Hugo Chávez was imprisoned in 1992, back then an army officer, Maduro campaigned for Chávez’s release, which came two years later. After that, Maduro became Chávez’s right hand man. In 1999 he was a member of the National Constituent Assembly and helped Chávez’s government to rewrite the Constitution, as part of Chávez’s ascent to the presidency. Later on, Maduro became Minister of Foreign Affairs in 2006 and Vice President in 2013; March 5th of that same year Chávez died. By April Maduro was sworn president of Venezuela, after he had been handpicked by Chávez to succeed his legacy.
Maduro before politics
Maduro grew up in a family of moderate means in Caracas. Since his childhood, he had been involved with politics due to his father’s engagement in labor movements and leftist politics. He was trained as an organizer in left-wing politics in Cuba instead of receiving a university education. He worked as a bus driver in Caracas and was a representative in the transit workers union. After Chávez was imprisoned and Maduro actively campaigned for his release, Maduro became more directly involved in Venezuelan politics. Ascending from the National Constituent Assembly to the foreign ministry, to the vice presidency and finally the presidency, Maduro has influenced Venezuela’s political trajectory for many years.
Ideology and context
Key elements of political ideology for both Chávez and Maduro have included nationalism, a centralized economy, and a strong military actively engaged in public projects. As a whole, autogestión and centralisation became the founding pillars of the Chavista ideology, followed formally by Chávez and by his successor Maduro. However, as Maduro continues many of the policies and ideological stances of Madro, he has inherited many of the problems that afflicted Chávez’s government, as well.
Contrary to the boom years of Chávez, Maduro worked to extend his predecessor’s legacy during a challenging economic period. With falling oil prices, the Venezuelan economy has struggled, leading to difficult humanitarian conditions and attempts to oust Maduro from office. In many parts of Venezuela, violence is a norm, stemming from both government sponsored groups and external criminal networks. To understand the reasons underlying domestic militarization, the fall of Venezuela’s standards of living, and the recent US sanctions, context must be given to the challenges facing Maduro and the Venezuelan people.