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What does Chávez’s re-election mean for the future of US-Venezuelan relations?

In this weekend’s presidential election in Venezuela, incumbent Hugo Chávez beat challenger Henrique Capriles to win another term as President. U.S.-Venezuela Relations since the 1990s examines contemporary issues in relations between the two countries, and is particularly significant given this development.

In power for 13 years, Chávez’s populist agenda has provoked much debate internationally, as he continues to pursue his unique brand of socialism. Winning the election with 54.4% of the vote, Chávez will now enjoy a strong democratic mandate until 2018, giving him another six years in office. Populism in Venezuela analyses this left-wing populist regime, providing a descriptive and analytical account of problems on both sides of this deeply polarised society.

Despite significant steps away from democratic rule, a struggling economy and an increasing gap between rich and poor, Chávez appears to have the support of the people. And Venezuela is an oil-rich country – a fact which has clearly not escaped the international community. Given this victory, the big question is how this will affect the future of U.S.-Venezuela relations. Since coming to power in 1999, Chávez has dramatically changed his country’s relations with the United States and other democracies. There has been increasing bilateral conflict and divisive changes in the country’s approach to key issues in recent years, all of which suggest that Chávez’s re-election could prove an important turning point for Venezuela’s international relationships.

The response of US state department spokesman William Ostick speaks volumes, as he congratulated ‘the Venezuelan people for the high turnout and generally peaceful manner in which this election was carried out’. Many will be waiting to see the effect that this result has on an already strained relationship.

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