News / Americas

Venezuela-US Relations Unlikely to Change After Chavez

Venezuela-US Relations Unlikely to Change After Chavezi
March 07, 2013 12:02 PM
The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is raising questions about what happens next in Venezuela, both internally and with its relations to other nations, including the United States. As VOA's Bill Rodgers reports, analysts do not expect the tense relationship between Washington and Caracas to change soon.
Bill Rodgers
The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is raising questions about what happens next in Venezuela, both internally and with its relations to other nations, including the United States.  Analysts do not expect the tense relationship between Washington and Caracas to change soon.

The death of President Chavez is being mourned by his supporters, while many inside and outside Venezuela wonder what the future holds.  

A commanding and charismatic figure in life, Chavez played an outsized role on the world stage - largely by challenging the United States and what he saw as Washington's economic and political dominance of Latin America.   

"He was a guy about power, you can’t really understand Chavez, the way he operated, what he did, what he couldn’t do, unless you understand his tremendous appetite for power," explained Michael Shifter, head of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington. "And that meant power within Venezuela, power within Latin America and that meant challenging and defying the superpower."

He repeatedly accused the United States of undermining his socialist revolution.  A failed coup attempt in 2002 tacitly supported by the Bush administration further antagonized the Venezuelan leader and his supporters.

This antagonism is unlikely to change soon.  

At a meeting convened the day Chavez died, Vice President Nicolas Maduro accused Washington of plotting to undermine Venezuela and announced the expulsion of two American diplomats.  

That does not bode well for future relations, says Carl Meacham of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"It is sort of sticking to the playbook that Chavismo has used in the past: always blame the United States or blame some foreign entity to distract them from problems that they have going on in Venezuela," he said.

Despite this, Venezuela is a major supplier of petroleum to the United States - and even provides free heating oil to poor Americans through a non-profit group.

American University professor Philip Brenner says this shows that relations between the two countries would be better if Washington recognizes certain realities.

"I think the important thing to remember about Venezuela is that they have never even threatened to cut off our oil.  Venezuela has done nothing to actually harm U.S. interests except to challenge U.S. dominance," Brenner noted.

Vice President Maduro, a former foreign minister and union leader, is expected to govern Venezuela for now and could be more pragmatic in his dealings with Washington, according to Michael Shifter.

"I think what we can expect from Maduro is a very tough stand, ideological stand, confrontational stand in public but behind the scenes I would imagine he would try to work things out, try to at least establish channels of communication at least, including with the United States," added Shifter.

Meanwhile, Maduro's accusations have been rejected by U.S. officials who have limited their comments to possible areas of cooperation such as counternarcotics and energy in the post-Chavez era.

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Comment Sorting
by: sk8sonh2o from: USA
March 07, 2013 10:49 AM
Chavez infuriated US oil companies by nationalizing the petroleum industry on behalf of the citizens of Venezuela. It is their oil - at least it is now!
Here in the USA, we give away oil and mineral leases for $5 an acre, without royalties; the leases are resold for much more, the resources plundered, and the environment poisoned. Is that fair to our citizens, our children, our stewardship of the land and its wealth?

by: John from: canada
March 07, 2013 9:37 AM
Its payback time for Venezuela having been one of very few states that recognized the Georgian break-away region of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in 2009, so besides naming Russian mountain peaks after Chavez and giving Venezuela multi-billion dollar loans to buy Russian tanks, SAMs and other weapons, Putinist Russia echoes the great friendship between Chavez and Putin by promoting the Yanqui-assassination theory on Russia Today’s media in Spanish.

by: jason from: canada
March 07, 2013 9:03 AM
Now the true problem begins. Chavez has had such close ties with Cuba that Cuba has infiltrated every part of Venezuela’s Government, including its Military. Cuba has no intention in giving up its survival even if it means a civil war in Venezuela. The aid received from Venezuela is in the order of about 100,000 barrels of petroleum per day. Cuba is giving in return for this bonanza of petroleum, doctors and “advisors” in the form of 30,000 Cubans – including disciplined mobile hit squads – roaming the streets and monitoring the movements of every Venezuelan military officer. Basically Chavez has committed Treason to his country, giving away its sovereignty to the Castro brothers.

Every leftist I read in the news says they loved Chavez and that better him than American interests. I say is it better to take hard earned money from the first world and have it funneled back to the Castro’s? (For those that don’t understand this statement, we buy oil from Venezuela and Cuba receives the money. Get it now?)The Venezuelan masses do not see the truth of what is happening; they are a happy people living day to day, to naive to see the inner working of the Cuban propaganda machine. Quite plainly, the Cuban regime traded Chavez’s life for its own survival – knowing that its bankrupt economy depends on Venezuelan generosity.

Unfortunately, the Cubans are not done administering to Venezuela – putting that country’s constitution under the knife while turning Chavez into a martyr for the poor. The Cubans have pulled of the greatest criminal operation of all time; they invaded a nation without firing a single shot. Hopefully the Venezuelan military will not put up with this outright treason and decide to take back Venezuela once and for all.
In Response

by: Jose M from: canada
March 07, 2013 10:11 AM
Jason, Thanks for sharing your opinion to the world. I respect your view, however you are showing just the bad side. I agree it is not right "to take hard earned money from the first world and have it funneled back to the Castro's " but I would add to your statement: the Castro and also some good projects! like this one: "At current prices, Venezuela sells oil to Haiti through PetroCaribe at 40% of the market price, with the remaining 60% paid over 25 years at an interest rate of 1%."

Do you think it is fair that over the past 100 years and more the "first world" have looted Latin America without mercy? Because all Latin Americans are too naive to see the truth, the first world does not care about poverty at all. Please, don't take me wrong, I would like to see the Castro being judged by all the people that suffered their tyranny (including me) but I do recognize the facts. In the 90's I was living through constants blackouts in Cuba, after Chavez we saw the LIGHT again! That is reality! He did bad things but also good ones for those one that were always in forgetfulness.

Poor people do not care who get richer as long as they don't get poorest. Get it now? Then it will come the time when those one that were the poorest at one time will raise up and ask for more, like it is happening in Cuba now, but one step at a time ;) One last comment, Venezuela has to get rid of all the Cubans infiltrated in the government and gain their sovereignty back, but please not to sell their sovereignty back again to the US. It is insane that Venezuela is not one of the "first world" countries with all those natural resources they have.

Have a good day.

Power to the people!

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