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Issue Guide: Venezuela Under Chávez

Author: Robert McMahon, Managing Editor
March 5, 2013


Venezuela's Hugo Chávez leaves an uncertain legacy for his country and region. This issue guide explores some of Chávez's chief political and economic initiatives and his relationship with Cuba.

The Atlantic: What Hugo Chávez Built: The Legacy of Latin-American 'Chavismo'
"Early in his presidency, Chávez remarked that he saw himself as a transitional figure in Venezuelan history—a claim that may be as true regionally as it is nationally," CFR Senior Fellow Julia Sweig writes.

Wall Street Journal: The Future of 'Cubazuela'
"If the relationship between Havana and Caracas were to end or falter, many Cubans fear that the island's threadbare economy could be pushed into depression, as in the early 1990s," writes José De Córdoba.

New Yorker: Postscript: Hugo Chávez: 1954-2013
"What he has left is a country that, in some ways, will never be the same, and which, in other ways, is the same Venezuela as ever: one of the world's most oil-rich, but socially unequal, countries, with a large number of its citizens living in some of Latin America's most violent slums," writes Jon Lee Anderson.

BBC: Hugo Chávez Death Leaves Venezuela in Economic Muddle
Thanks to Chávez's social programs, poorer Venezuelans have certainly benefited from the country's oil wealth more than they did under what he called the "rotten elites" that used to be in charge. But there are strong suspicions that much money has been wasted - not just through corruption, but also sheer incompetence, notes Robert Plummer.

Foreign Affairs: Chavismo After Chávez
"Whoever takes the reins will be tasked with keeping Chavismo alive. What that means, of course, depends on where one falls on the political spectrum," writes Amherst College professor Javier Corrales.

Foreign Affairs: So Long, Chávez
"Chavez was not single-handedly responsible for deflating the hopeful spirit that prevailed two decades ago. But his relentless defiance of Washington and its chief allies—often accompanied by aggressive, even belligerent, rhetoric—polarized the region," writes Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue.

Contingency Planning Memo: Political Unrest in Venezuela
After Chávez's departure, political instability in Venezuela could threaten U.S. interests in democracy promotion, regional cooperation, counternarcotics, and business, writes former U.S. ambassador to Venezuela Patrick Duddy.

CFR Backgrounder: Venezuela and Chávez's Fourth Term
The president's reelection in 2012 signaled a continuation of many of the policies he had enacted during his tenure, including nationalizations of major industries, heavy emphasis on maintaining government-run social programs, and leading a bloc of nations opposed to U.S. influence.

Timeline: Venezuela's Chávez Era
Track the U.S.-Venezuela relationship in the Chávez years with this interactive timeline.