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Strategic Posture Review: Venezuela

, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013

Venezuela was historically a reliable U.S. ally in Latin America, if always aspiring to more autonomy and a larger role in the region. This relationship was based on oil commerce and the fact that Venezuela was democratic during a period in which most other Latin American democracies broke down. During the 14 years of the Hugo Chavez government, of course, this changed. After assuming the presidency in 1999, Chavez developed an antagonistic relationship with Washington and sought to develop alternative regional relationships and leadership, all while maintaining robust commercial exchange with the U.S. During the government of Chavez’s successor, Nicolas Maduro, these aspirations continue to guide Venezuela.

Chavez enjoys posthumous approval ratings in the 70 percent range, while Maduro struggles to confront the issues of governance he inherited. Chavez’s economic model, which depended on exporting oil and importing most everything else, is showing its weakness as Venezuela flirts with hyperinflation, shortages of basic consumer goods and an official exchange rate that is overvalued by 500 percent. This is accompanied by deteriorating infrastructure, crises in hospitals and higher education, and a wave of crime and violence that continues unabated. ...

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