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Venezuela a Test Case for U.S. to Navigate South America’s New Normal

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The geopolitics surrounding the crisis in Venezuela captures the new normal of inter-American relations. The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), a regional South American body created in 2008, has stepped up its involvement and, through a three-member delegation of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador’s foreign ministers, is playing a prominent role in fostering dialogue. Meanwhile, the United States, though keen to shape the post-Chavez trajectory of Venezuela, is in the background, unsure of how to make a constructive impact.

This unfolding episode serves as further reminder that U.S. foreign policy toward South America remains largely unsettled. Washington’s preferences do not have the same weight they once did in the hemisphere. At the same time, Washington faces significant competition from regional players in attempting to shape local dynamics through diplomatic channels. In this context, Venezuela provides a test case for tracking what path the U.S. will choose in adjusting to the new normal of the much more competitive geopolitics in the hemisphere. ...

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