Waiting for post-Chavez Venezuela
January 11th, 2013
01:11 AM ET

Waiting for post-Chavez Venezuela

By Jill Dougherty

They don't get much more anti-American than Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.

For many Americans, the Latin American president is embodied by his 2006 lashing out at then-U.S. President George W. Bush.

"Yesterday the devil came here and it still smells of sulfur today."

For the United States, the socialist Chavez has been a diplomatic troublemaker ever since he took office for the first time in 1999.

But that doesn't mean the United States has given up on Venezuela. Especially with Chavez - who is undergoing cancer treatment in a Cuban hospital and battling complications - being too sick to attend his own inauguration for a new six-year term.

Asked Thursday to comment about Chavez, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that the United States has "put forward some ideas about how this relationship could be improved on a step-by-step basis."

"Our sense is that at the moment they are very much preoccupied with internal affairs," she said. "So we are standing by and when they are ready to talk to us about improving things, we're ready for those conversations."

For 14 years, Chavez made it his mission to lambaste the United States for meddling in his country and the region. But Washington does want a better relationship with Venezuela, the fourth biggest supplier of oil to the U.S., providing 10% of oil imports into the U.S.

There are several things, Security Clearance has learned, that the Obama administration wants to work with Venezuela on, including counter-narcotics efforts, fighting terrorism, energy and the rule of law.

Uncertainty reigns in Venezuela

But Washington is taking a go-slow approach. After all, even when Chavez is gone, his left-wing ideology, "Chavismo," will live on at least for a while. And his supporters, the "Chavistas," hold all the major levers of power in the country.

"He controls the courts and the media and other institutions," said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue and adjunct professor at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. "There are a lot of Venezuelans who view him very sympathetically, see him as the savior of the country even though the conditions are very, very bad in the country."

The U.S. has been talking with Venezuelan officials as well as officials from other Latin American countries during the past few weeks and that has fueled speculation that Washington is trying to engineer a transition to a leader more friendly to the United States. Memories run deep of a coup in 2002 that removed Chavez from office for 48 hours. He blamed the U.S. for trying to overthrow him but Washington has always denied any involvement.

The State Department insists it's strictly hands-off.

Washington wants a "democratic ... transparent" transition, Nuland said, adding that "it's going to be for Venezuelans to decide how that happens."

Shifter said the U.S. is watching from afar.

"I don't think there is any evidence the United States is up to anything," he said. "I think it would be counter-productive. The Obama administration has been very restrained in its position toward Venezuela and has been very careful, I think, to just let the situation play out."

Chavez is friendly with Iran, North Korea, Belarus and Syria but, in spite of that, commercial ties between the U.S. and Venezuela are strong.

"The U.S. is Venezuela's most important trading partner, with U.S. goods accounting for about 24% of imports and approximately 42% of Venezuelan exports going to the United States," according to the State Department.

Venezuela has played a game of musical chairs with ambassadors.

More than four years ago, Chavez ordered the expulsion of the U.S. ambassador. In return, the U.S. kicked out the Venezuelan ambassador.

A year later, both ambassadors returned to their posts, but in 2010, the Venezuelan government refused to accept the credentials of the new U.S. ambassador. Washington took the same action against the Venezuelan ambassador.

Even if relations improve, don't look for the U.S. to send its ambassador back anytime soon. Chavez, by some reports, is nearing death, but "Chavismo" is still alive and well in his Venezuela.

As Chavez battles cancer, Maduro waits in the wings

soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Niche Bot

    Check out the Niche Bot at http://www.niche-bot.com Niche Bot http://www.niche-bot.com/

    May 18, 2013 at 6:37 am | Reply
  2. свежемороженые куры

    I've read several good stuff here. Definitely value bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how a lot attempt you put to create such a magnificent informative site.

    March 5, 2013 at 11:17 pm | Reply
  3. kkk

    Venezuela ; 70% are poor, they are like babies, very small brain. just feed them and they all set. they have not vision for the future of their children. educated people want more and especially for their children. Chavez will give them enough that IT, NO MORE.

    January 13, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Reply
    • Flavio GF

      Such an ignorant guy, Where do you read about Venezuela and Venezuelans? In a magazine? OMG!

      January 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Reply
  4. Aaron Chany

    Heavy Losses Inflicted Upon Terrorists in al-Dhyabieh, Hajjira, al-Bahdalieh

    Army units inflicted heavy losses upon terrorists in a series of qualitative operations against their gatherings in al-Dhyabieh, Hejjera and al-Bahdalieh in Damascus Countryside.

    An official source told SANA reporter that a unit of armed forces raided a den for terrorists in the vicinity of Khalil Yousef school in al-Dhyabieh town and destroyed all arms inside it including ammunition, mortars, heavy machineguns and automatic rifles.

    The source added that another unit killed members of a terrorist group near Hajjira roundabout on al-Sbineh road and seized weapons and ammunition in their possession.

    A number of terrorists were also killed and wounded near al-Nahda company in the town.

    In al-Bahdalieh, a number of terrorists were killed also.

    Another army unit clashed with a terrorist group in Zamalka town, eastern Ghouta where the clash resulted in the elimination of a number of the most dangerous terrorists.

    January 13, 2013 at 9:16 am | Reply
  5. BushFamilyAreNazis

    It's only right that Chevez hates the Bush Family. The Bush family funded the Nazis (via Prescott Bush's bank) and had JFK murdered using E H Hunt as the hit man under the direction of G H Bush because JFK wanted to reign in the FED and the MIC. The Bush family is pure EVIL.

    January 11, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Reply
    • Bibi Your Master

      Hey . . .back off. The bushies are our boys. We've been using them since WWII to do our dirty work.

      Remember it was G. Bush Sr. who said, "If the American people knew the Damage we have done to their Country, they would hang us from the nearest lamp post. "

      Yup . . . I'm so proud of them. They are good goyim family doing just what we tell them to do.

      We zine-0-ist own the American people. The USA is our playground. We rule the world.

      Soon we'll be taking away all your guns.

      Yippppppppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! we are the smartest people in the world and the Americans are the dumbest of the dumb.

      ha ha ha . . . . .israel forever and forever.

      January 11, 2013 at 8:36 pm | Reply
    • Aden Medina

      Not very many will agree with you. But I agree. If Chavez dies, who will have the courage and bravura to say before the UN and the whole world what and who is wrong with the USA ? He was not lying when he condemned W, well recognized by our own American citizens, as the worst president the US ever had.

      January 13, 2013 at 7:37 am | Reply
  6. TrollingForSheep

    I can't believe that some of you fall for trolls like 'Your Master Bibi the Be Vitch'. He/she is some Jew hater who just got a bunch of you to throw a bunch of racist remarks out there for him. As disgusting as he is, you are worse... and your stupid on top of it. Go fall face first in the ditch and drown yourselves.

    January 11, 2013 at 11:02 am | Reply
    • Lyndsie Graham

      What does your post above have to do with Venezuela or Hugo Chavez? I see no connection here. The only ignorant people here on this web page are those who keep on ranting against Hugo Chavez!

      January 11, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Reply
      • Jim

        Because Chavez is antisemitic. He has made antisemitic comments and targeted Jewish groups in Venezuela.

        January 11, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • raya

      thank you but make our life brigyh our chi;d yummy and full and smart i had been sick now sick for long turm but make big smile x0x

      January 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Reply
  7. George Patton

    Whatever happens, let's just hope that another right-wing, pro-U.S. stooge doesn't come to power in Venezuela. If one does, this will be the biggest set back for Latin America since the advent of that cursed Pinochet in Chile back in 1973!!! Nobody in their right mind wants that!

    January 11, 2013 at 10:36 am | Reply
  8. right back at you!!

    Wow, no wonder your people has been persecuted for over 5,000 years. No wonder the Germans did what they did to your race, you sound like a plague and a Cancer "your master bibi the be vitch" lol. Who cares about the stupid Jews, they only know about Jewerly and the only reason Israel exist it's because of the US. Other wise more concentration camps for you all.

    January 11, 2013 at 9:50 am | Reply
  9. empresstrudy

    With the highest murder rate in the world, massive unemployment and typically huge South American levels of inflation it's all coming apart at every nail down there in Chavezstan. CNN liberals will of course blame it all on the US but so what? It's still going to burn. I'll bring the marshmallows.

    January 11, 2013 at 9:40 am | Reply
  10. SeniorMoment

    I do not think that it will make much difference who follows Chavez as President of Venezuala. Chavez has been a popular President along with his agenda in his country, which is how it should be in a democracy. It doesn't speak kindly of his opponents that they don't want to make inauguration allowances for temporary disability of the President, which suggest they have gotten desperate, rather than smarter.

    January 11, 2013 at 2:05 am | Reply
    • Joe from CT, not Lieberman

      Chavez is just "smoke and mirrors". He has been promising the "common people" of Venezuela the Moon, and they still live in poverty. They still have runaway inflation. The Chavistas who have been put in charge of the "nationalized" companies are well educated in doctrine, but have no clue how to actually run these companies. He has supported a violent revolutionary movement in Columbia, and every time one of his people are caught with FARC, he scrambles to find plausible deniability for their presence. He has bankrupted Venezuela in order to keep Castro's failed economy afloat. He has pretty much outlawed any political party that would have a chance of beating him. His people are better at ballot box stuffing than the Ohio and Florida Republican Parties and Amadinejad combined.
      Yeah, this guy is a crown jewel of Western Hemisphere political leaders.

      January 11, 2013 at 9:00 am | Reply
      • Belen

        Joe, "COLOMBIA" not ColUmbia.

        January 13, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
  11. U.S.M.C. 1371

    Can't happen soon enough........

    January 11, 2013 at 1:43 am | Reply
    • SeniorMoment

      We should as a nation only care about honest elections, not who wins them. There is no nation that the US cannot afford to live without. The best move is always to maximize the number of friends and minimize the number of opponents, but even opponents have an important role to play. Imagine how much less money Republicans would raise for elections if they didn't insist Democrats were somehow evil and were instead reasonable people that compromises could be made with. Someone has to play the bad guy role after all.

      January 11, 2013 at 2:09 am | Reply
    • Your Master Bibi the Be Vitch

      I sure do love stupid comments from stu-pud Americans.

      I'm basically a spy here working with dual citizenships/traitors in America like U.S.M.C. . . . .she is here basically on the clock to pass off comments here to confuse you stupid Americans.

      Sure . . . .the whole world hates us israelis and you stupid American but we don't care because we are the masters of the world.

      When you can control the US Congress, the Marine Corps and the US Navy, who cares what some brown jerk-off in Caracas has to say. Heck Chavez is sick because our brave moussad poisoned him. That's right! We did it!

      Just stay stupid you stupid Americans!

      israel rules you and America will soon fall apart but not before we loot the heck out your stupid country, just like what we did to Germany and Russia.

      Boy we are smart . . .way smarter than you stupid Americans.

      You stupid Americans should have heeded all the things Thomas Edison said about us. but it's too late now. We did 9-11 and we don’t care if you know it.

      Soon we're going to take your guns away.

      Yipppppppppppppeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee . . . . .israel rules the world and we are the masters of the stupid AMericans.

      January 11, 2013 at 7:09 am | Reply
      • right back at you

        Hey why don't you go polish some diamonds for me you stupid jew, make it fast!

        January 11, 2013 at 9:52 am |
      • zumaque1

        Must be Iranian propagandist.

        January 11, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
      • TrollingForSheep

        Ahh, zumaque1 you have restored my faith in humanity.

        January 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
      • U.S.M.C. 1371

        I am sorry that your in a bad mood, but I had nothing to do with your mother losing her job at the donkey show. So leave me out of your crazy trash.

        January 12, 2013 at 1:54 am |
      • trusty

        If what you say is true then I'm fine with it, my life here in the good ole USA is very good.

        January 13, 2013 at 2:42 pm |

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