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CARACAS, Tuesday November 06, 2012 | Update
 
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POLITICS

Fourteen years of tensions between Washington and Caracas

A switch of administration from democrat to republican will have no impact on US-Venezuela bilateral relations, according to analysts

Barack Obama in a rally in Columbus, Ohio (Photo: AFP)
EL UNIVERSAL
Tuesday November 06, 2012  12:44 PM

US-Venezuela diplomatic and trade relations had been cordial until Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez first took office.

Under republican George W. Bush (2000-2004), tensions with the Venezuelan president prevailed. Since 2010, diplomatic relations between the democrat administration of Barack Obama and the Venezuelan government of President Chávez have been at a standstill.

Tensions have prevailed ever since Washington revoked the visa of then Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Álvarez in response to Caracas refusal to accept Larry Palmer as the US ambassador to Venezuela.

"Obama's administration has included Chávez's top generals and most reliable men in a list of drug lords and drug-money launderers. Thus, one may expect a continuing hard-line policy towards Caracas, without breaking ties completely," explained from Paris Luis de Lion, attorney at law and internationalist.

Trade relations have not been severed, though. The US is still Venezuela's first trade partner as it buys 1.5 million oil barrels per day out of the 2.5 million barrels Venezuela exports daily. 

Nevertheless, during the first half of 2012, oil exports to the US dropped 15.75% (USD 3.4 billion) as against the same period in 2011, the Venezuelan-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VenAmCham) informed.

Meanwhile, non-oil exports went up 31.04% (USD 764 million) during the same period.

Overall, exports totaled USD 8 billion, rising 43.07%, according to a report compiled by VenAmCham.

Regarding a likely change in US administration from democrat to republican, De Lion was confident that although there may be further tensions between the US and Venezuela, as well as the rest of the "Bolivarian" countries in the region, there will be no significant changes in the administration, as the US foreign policy does not change frequently. 

Furthermore, the expert in foreign affairs explained that Latin America is not Washington's top priority. Rather the US is concern about the situation in Syria and Iran. "In Latin America, Brazil will keep on playing the role of the messenger of the region," he asserted.

vegui@eluniversal.com

@VeroEgui

Translated by Jhean Cabrera
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