In the latest of our in-depth Lab Reports, Javier Corrales analyzes the political economy behind Venezuela under the rule of Hugo Chávez.
Juan Nagel takes a look at how Chávez transformed the minds of Venezuelans. Daniel Lansberg-Rodriguez offers a personal perspective on the death of Chávez -- and a report on the government's plans to keep the leader's remains on view in a crystal tomb.
Tom de Waal reflects on the unexpected revival of civic political engagement in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Armenia.
In his column, DemLab editor Christian Caryl explains how a government watchdog's report confirms the futility of democracy-building efforts in Iraq.
Jeffrey Bartholet interviews Tom Catena, an American missionary serving as the only Western doctor in Sudan's embattled Nuba Mountains.
Seema Shah explains why Kenya's efforts to improve the legitimacy of poll results may have actually undermined it.
Mohamed Eljarh reports on the return of Ansar al-Sharia to Benghazi.
Min Zin applauds the Burmese government's recent talks with rebel groups.
And Mohamed El Dahshan shows how the Harlem Shake craze has born some peculiar fruit in the post-revolutionary Middle East.
And now for this week's recommended reads:
The Guardian investigates a site in the Syrian city of Aleppo where the bodies of 114 victims of execution-style killings have been found since January. Also reporting from Aleppo, Der Spiegel's Kurt Pelda offers a riveting reportage on life in the war-torn city. The Institute for the Study of War releases a new report on how the war in Syria has shifted from a limited insurgency to all-out civil war.
Democracy Digest offers a fresh take on the state of the transition in Yemen, where some observers see good signs.
The New Yorker shares the stories of Pakistani Shiites who face greater arbitrary violence and murder.
Business Standard reports that two people have already died from stampedes during Shivratri, a major Hindu festival shortly following Kumbh Mela where over 30 people died. The photo above shows a devotee of the god Shiva celebrating the holiday.
Writing for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, activist Aung Din offers two reports on decision-makers in Burma. In the first, he explains why politicians are courting Aung San Suu Kyi to boost their images. In the second, he looks at the leaders of the armed opposition and the prospects for peace in the country's long-running civil war.
Challenging conventional wisdom, Juan Cole analyzes a backlash against what he sees as the "Muslim religious right" in various parts of the Islamic world.
And, just to keep things interesting, here's a sympathetic take on Hugo Chávez and his legacy.
Photo by SHAMMI MEHRA/AFP/Getty Images
What has changed in Tunisia since opposition leader Chokri Belaid was assassinated? I've asked many Tunisian friends that question. Most remained silent for a few seconds, smiled sadly, and whispered, "not much." One, a well-known activist, noted bitterly that what was clear was that Belaid didn't die "for that incompetent man (Laarayadh) to become prime minister".
Photo by FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images
On Sunday, March 3, four pickup trucks filled with Ansar al-Sharia militiamen pulled up at the European School in Benghazi. The men jumped out and stormed the school, saying that they were searching for teaching materials that they viewed as contradicting sharia law or the values of Libyan society. The incident at the school continued for about two hours and caused mixed reactions among Libyans as they followed the story.
Photo by ABDULLAH DOMA/AFP/GettyImages
Despite holding a political philosophy based, in part, on valuing groups above individuals, Marxist governments have long been fond of embalming particularly memorable leaders and putting them on permanent display. Lenin, Mao, Stalin, Ho Chi Minh, two generations of Kims, Gottwald, Dimitrov.... The list goes on and on.
Photo by LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/GettyImages
Photo by GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images
Technology has failed Kenyans in the 2013 general election. Over the past few months, election officials and their friends in the media have raised public hopes for a fair election by hyping measures to modernize the voting system. But it's possible that these new reforms could instead become the cause of increased tensions.
Photo by CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images
When Hugo Chávez first became president of Venezuela I was sixteen years old and just coming into my political consciousness. Now I am in my thirties. Through all that time I can think of no political opinion, no vote, no broad social view that has not been affected -- even defined -- by this singular man and his unstoppable vision. And now he is dead. Officially dead. The enormity of that one fact is such that the myriad uncertainties this news bring with it, for now, seem somehow unimportant.
Photo by GERALDO CASO/AFP/Getty Images
Hugo Chávez died as he lived: shrouded in mystery, creating chaos and commotion, and leaving an indelible mark. His death leaves a void in the hearts of his many followers, but it also leaves his opponents in a daze. Chávez has been such a central part of our lives, of my life, that this is a blow to us as well.
Photo by RODRIGO BUENDIA/AFP/Getty Images
Transitions is the group blog of the Democracy Lab channel, a collaboration between Foreign Policy and the Legatum Institute.