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María Gabriela Mata Carnevali


Cultural identity can define political interests through particular policies that advance such identity, while, on the other hand, there is political culture where political calculations are pre-eminent. Both of these tendencies are present in the case involving the Venezuelan energy initiative PETROCARIBE and its very poor outcomes. The PETROCARIBE initiative launched by Hugo Chávez as a part of a pact to assist in the economic and social development of countries in the Caribbean while enhancing Venezuelan ideological influence and regional power countered challenges, among which were cultural barriers embedded in the very making of the Carribean as a region. Cultural barriers were also evident in the recent ‘betrayal’ of Venezuela by the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM), which backed Guyana over Venezuela in the competing claims over the territory of Essequibo. Is culture the real obstacle to Venezuela’s quest for its Caribbean identity? Though there are many examples in the world of successful integration involving countries of different cultures, this article argues that the PETROCARIBE initiative in a region whose region-ness is complex and more imagined than real was a huge political mistake that may contribute to the fall of the revolutionary government in Venezuela.



Venezuela; PETROCARIBE; Essequibo; political culture; cultural identity.

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