Chávez’s Declining Influence in Latin America

Chávez’s Declining Influence in Latin America

One of the subjects dominating discussions of Latin American politics this year has been the June 30 revelation that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is being treated for cancer. Very little is known about his illness, other than the not-so-encouraging news that he has received four, possibly five, chemotherapy treatments, most them in an undisclosed location in Cuba.

A bombshell accompanied by such secrecy has raised speculation about the future of Venezuelan politics. It seems that all scenarios, ranging from Chávez's death to his full recovery, are possible, which makes the presidential election scheduled for October 2012 one of the most uncertain in Latin American history.

Receiving less attention, however, is the fact that not just the Venezuelan president is seriously ill: So is his foreign policy. Taking advantage of the low levels of popularity of the United States in Latin America around 2003 and widespread discontent over the dire economic crisis of 1999-2002, Chávez launched the most anti-American, anti-capitalist foreign policy the region had seen since the Cold War ended. He called on Latin American nations to join his crusade, offering ample economic rewards to those willing to follow along. By 2004, the United States began to consider Venezuela the biggest security threat in the region. For a while, with the region electing more and more governments on the left, Chávez's influence seemed uncontainable. In 2008, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of the Americas (ALBA), Chávez's most important alliance in the region, peaked with nine member-states.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.