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EXPERT COMMENT: Death of Chavez May Signal Fresh Start for US and Venezuela

March 6th, 2013

Story Contact: Timothy Wall, 573-882-3346,

The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The recent death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez shook global politics and left the world wondering about the future of the far left. The death of Chavez could allow the United States and Venezuela to improve their relationship, according to University of Missouri political scientist Moises Arce. Chavez’s death may also lead to major changes in Venezuela and could shake the international oil market.

“The U.S. may be looking for a fresh start as Venezuela remains one of the major oil suppliers to the U.S. economy,” said Arce. “Opponents of Chavez would also like to see a different Venezuela. Chavez has ruled Venezuela since 1999, and the country has changed a lot since he came to power.”

The loss of the outspoken Chavez could have serious consequences for his international allies and political cohorts, especially in the member nations of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).

“Chavez has been a strong critic of economic liberalization and globalization; he has also criticized the U.S. and other European countries for advancing these policies throughout the developing world,” said Arce. “His death represents a major loss for those voices.”

Arce noted that Chavez’s death may have an effect on global oil prices in the short term as markets react to the changing political structure of Venezuela, one of the world’s top oil producers. It is hard to know whether prices will go up or down. That will depend on the political situation that develops in Venezuela as a new leader fills the void left by Chavez.

Arce is an associate professor of political science in MU’s College of Arts and Science. He is the author of “Market Reform in Society” (Penn State 2005), and numerous articles in journals, such as Comparative Political Studies, Comparative Politics, European Political Science Review, International Organization, Journal of Politics, Journal of Politics in Latin America, Latin American Politics and Society, Latin American Research Review, Party Politics, Political Research Quarterly, Social Science Quarterly, Studies in Comparative International Development, and World Politics.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A version of this expert comment is available in Spanish.