Venezuela's foreign policy decisive in presidential election
While Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez will continue his strategic position against the US, presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski will step closer to the West
Foreign diplomatic missions appointed to Venezuela are closely keeping track of the Venezuelan political process as the effects of the results of the upcoming Venezuelan presidential election will extend beyond the country's borders.
After 14 years in office and hoping to extend such period to 20 years, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez represents the continuity of his foreign policy, which aims at privileging those countries with common ideological interests or opposing US interests.
Venezuela's foreign policy has been pivotal during President Chávez's presidency, and in an attempt to gain some allies, the Government has relied on the country's economic resources to take advantage of high oil prices.
For his part, opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski represents the return to the historic position of the Venezuelan State, that is, a country oriented by an institutional paradigm, with strong ties in the western world, eager to give special treatment to its main business partners such as the US or Colombia, and keen on achieving the Latin American integration through institutions such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), and Mercosur.
In an attempt to clear up doubts over what the next Venezuelan foreign policy and its impact on some strategic countries and regions might be, daily newspaper El Universal has compiled the views of a group of analysts including former Venezuelan Deputy Minister (1992-1994) and Ambassador to Colombia (1990-1992) Fernando Gerbasi, former Ambassador and ex-representative of Venezuela to the UN (2011-2044) Milos Alcalay, and scholar and internationalist Giovanna de Michele.
The United States
After 14 years of tensions between the US and Venezuela, Fernando Gerbasi said, the victory of Capriles will foster "the relation in the political, economic and commercial aspects." He added, "Capriles is a man of the western world," and upon his victory some cooperation agreements such as anti-drug agreements will be restored.
On the other hand, Chávez victory will enhance the continuity of the current policy, which has been almost inexistent. Today rather than appointing ambassadors, the Government has appointed Chargés d'affaires. Although the Obama's administration has not admitted it, Gerbasi asserted that Chávez is a threat to the US and deteriorates the region.
On Michele's view, upon Capriles' victory, the relation between Russia and Venezuela would come to a standstill. Efforts to redesign the international status quo and power relations will dwindle in the absence of Venezuela. "It all seems we are no longer going to continue in the highly controversial axis integrated by Russia, China, Iran, and Belarus."
Venezuela would take a different path under Chávez leadership. The construction sector is one of the areas benefitting from this alliance, yet the arms race has been the greatest achievement. Upon Chávez victory, the arm business will continue growing and Russia will be able to continue relying on Venezuela to deal with multilateral institutions.
According to Michele, under the leadership of Capriles, except for Cuba, the relations with economically unstable countries will remain the same. Oil prices will continue depending on international prices, yet some trade mechanisms may be subject to revision.
On the other hand, if Chávez wins the election, his foreign policy on the Caribbean is likely to remain unchanged. Although he has not gained much ground, Chávez will rely on oil to continue seeking Caribbean countries' unconditional support.
ALBA member countries
Regarding ALBA member countries, former Ambassador Alcalay believes that the regional institution will suffer negative consequences under the leadership of Capriles. Bilateral relations with Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Bolivia, will continue, though. Under a new Government, Venezuela will foster relations with institutions like CAN and there will be major south-south cooperation on institutional bases rather than ideological paradigms.
On the contrary, if President Chávez is reelected, he will further bolster ALBA by incorporating new members willing to enjoy the economic advantages Venezuela offers to the members of the organization. Indeed, ALBA has been an international platform for Chávez political plans within the continent.
Translated by Jhean Cabrera
José Vicente Rangel clearly said: "We are not conducting negotiations threatened with a gun in the head." He warned behind closed doors in the midst of the social upheaval occurred during the oil strike in 2002 and 2003. Dissenting Timoteo Zambrano answered back that no other option was available: "The thing is that otherwise, you do not negotiate."