Using the PMESII framework to guide analysis, Venezuela was generally examined as a system of systems to identify nodes, linkages, and Centers of Gravity (COGs) and determine the relationships between them. Once the COGs of each system were identified, the critical capabilities (CCs) of those COGs were analyzed to determine which is the most consequential to achieving U.S. strategic objectives within Venezuela. This paper argues the significance of Venezuela’s Executive Office and the importance of the oil industry as critical COGs within its Political and Economic systems. The paper focuses on these two systems because of their importance and because they are so closely interwoven. As described in Joint Doctrine, the COGs explored within this paper were identified using analysis of nodes and linkages within their respective systems. As such, the oil economy was determined to be a critical requirement (CR) and critical vulnerability (CV) for the political system as well as other PMESII categories not directly discussed in this paper. Therefore, the oil industry within Venezuela’s economic system is the primary COG and possible means of influence are critical to consider while progressing toward achievement of U.S. strategic objectives with Venezuela, namely, regional stability.
Analysis of Venezuela’s political history and current governmental systems, demonstrates former President Chávez designed the Executive Office to be the epicenter of the political system, and therefore a strategic COG. Within Venezuela’s present political system, Nicolas Maduro sits at the helm, leading the country through somewhat unstable political and economic times. To do this, he must persevere to sustain Venezuela’s sovereignty, safeguard its reputation as an involved member of the international community, and be an influence of stability throughout the region. These are all COG critical capabilities (CCs) of President Maduro, and are therefore his absolutely essential functions as the Venezuelan president.
The United States cannot ignore the power and influence of the Venezuelan Executive Office within its political system. The political structure and associations established by President Chávez and continued under Maduro carry substantive linkages to the dominant political parties (nodes) of Venezuela (add info and use high source). To win the presidential election in 1998, Chávez, aligned his own Fifth Republic Movement (MVR) party, the Homeland For All (PPT) party and Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) party into the combined Patriotic Pole (PP) party. With Maduro now firmly in control of these organizations, he wields tremendous authority within Venezuela’s most powerful and influential political parties, which allows for substantial control of the legislative branch as well.
To further entrench the seat of absolute authority within the Executive Office, Chávez set up a constitutional assembly (Asamblea Nacional, AN) by way of a public referendum...