UNO political scientist: Chavez death could change Venezuela's relationship with the U.S.

Mar 6, 2013

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s death could be an opportunity for the U.S. to rehabilitate its relationship with that nation, according to a UNO political scientist.

Chavez, who ruled Venezuela for 14 years, died Tuesday of cancer. Elections could be held to choose a new Venezuelan president. In a statement issued Tuesday, President Obama said the U.S. stands with the Venezuelan people. Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado teaches Political Science at UNO. He says that sends an important message that the U.S. won’t try to intervene in Venezuelan elections.

“I think one of the things Latin Americans are very concerned with is that there may be some meddling on the part of the United States, so one part of the message, obviously, is to the people. But the other part is to the region, and that we will, you know, stand behind the process in that country regardless of how democratic or non-democratic people perceive it to be. And I think that’s very important.”

Benjamin-Alvarado says Chavez didn’t manage Venezuela’s oil resources well, and that could disrupt the supply of oil coming to the U.S. If that happens, Benjamin-Alvarado says it could have a significant impact on the U.S. economy.  The State Department says Venezuela is one of the top four suppliers of oil to the U.S.

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro is serving as interim leader.