Like it or not, foreign aid usually follows the paths that are set by political relationships. U.S.-Venezuelan relations have been stressed ever since Hugo Chavez came to power, and even before then. How could the death of Hugo Chavez affect the aid relationship between the U.S. and Venezuela?
The first time that Chavez met President Obama, he gave him a copy Eduardo Galeano’s book “Las Venas Abiertas de America Latina”, a history of colonial rule over the Americas that focuses on how the United States became the colonizing power of modern age in Latin America, especially in Central America where American corporations and military interventions created the infamously titled “banana republics.” That first meeting is the perfect anecdote to represent the relationship between the two countries over the last five years. Chavez had always been extraordinarily outspoken against the United States and, because of that tense relationship, the U.S. has given very little to Venezuela with the exception of small amounts of disaster relief assistance. It is important to note that Venezuela, the founding member of OPEC, is one of the wealthiest countries in the Americas, yet nearly 32% of the country’s population lives below the poverty line.
In order to begin building a more amicable relationship, the U.S. may begin giving more to causes that aren’t related to politics and focus more on job creation and training. Providing this type of aid would not only benefit Venezuela, it may help build a much less tense relationship with a resource-rich country that has significant pull in international oil markets and price control. A well-executed increase in aid could end up to be very beneficial for both parties as Venezuela changes leadership.
- Kevin Sullivan