Venezuela: Foreign Policies Challenging the U.S.A.
Venezuela’s foreign policies have traditionally included the bilateral relations between the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the United States of America as its significant part. For decades, they developed along the lines of the relevant trade and investment relations and included combating the production and illegal drugs trafficking as its important component.
These relations, which seemed strong enough and stable, changed dramatically when President Hugo Chávez Caldera came to power after the elections of 1999. Other factors contributing to these changes were associated with new imperatives both the countries of Latin America and the U.S.A. were confronted with at the turn of the millennium. The end of the Cold War, major shifts in the global balance of powers caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the rapidly rising and developing risks of international terrorism and other factors shaped the new realities in world policies and bilateral relations of different countries with the U.S.A. These aspects have been important, even if they were not evident immediately in the context of ongoing events and the progress of relations between different countries. The USA had to work out a comprehensive foreign policy framework for thirty-four different countries in the Western hemisphere. However, the U.S. foreign policy was preoccupied with the pressing issues in other parts and regions of the world, primarily Afghanistan and the Middle East where it had to respond to very serious challenges and different crises. At the same time, Latin America remained one of the most important regions and spheres for U.S. foreign policies. In this context, the election of Hugo Chavez as President of Venezuela at the turn of the twenty-first century proved to be a signal event, which restructured the national foreign policies by revising the bilateral relations with the USA
The core of Venezuela’s foreign policies of the millennium period has been characterized by the strong anti-US stance, which created serious security concerns for the USA Venezuela’s relations with the USA used to be less strained compared to those other Latin American countries, for example, Nicaragua, had with the superpower. This balance was, however, upset when one of the most controversial figures in recent history, the alleged (or, rather, self-declared) reformer and savior of Venezuela assumed power for fourteen 14 years. Hugo Chavez’s foreign policies should be analyzed in connection with the domestic policies of this charismatic figure whose efforts of reforming the country ended up with devastating one of Latin America’s richest states. In addition, Venezuela’s bilateral relations with the USA, with all their dramatic turns, can be understood only in the context of its leadership’s major approaches to foreign policies on the global scale and by analyzing the ideological principles underpinning foreign relations.
Another important aspect is the influence of bilateral relations on foreign relations of other Latin American countries with the USA and their consequences for the security and stability in this vast and highly important …