The crisis in Venezuelan civil-military relations: from Punto Fijo to the Fifth Republic
Trinkunas, Harold A.
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For many who thought of Venezuela as a consolidated democracy, the 1992 coup attempts came as a complete surprise. Those familiar with the deterioration of its democratic regime, in contrast, were more surprised that the coups did not succeed. This article provides an institution-centered explanation of the puzzle of why the 1992 coups attempts occurred, why they failed, and why the Venezuelan military has remained quiescent in the years that followed. Institutions of civilian control created during the post-1958 "Punto Fijo" period, particularly those based on fragmenting the officer corps, prevented the collapse of the democratic regime in 1992. These same institutions allowed civilians to regain authority over the armed forces duting the Rafael Caldera administration and have ensured the subordination of the armed forces to the elected authorities to the present. It is also argued that the istitutional basis for civilan control has been dismantled during the Fifth Republic, heightening the likelihood of future civil-military conflict and threatening regime stability.