Foreign and Defense Policy, Latin America

A post-Chávez checklist for US policymakers

Image credit: Chavez (Wikimedia Commons)

Image credit: Chavez (Wikimedia Commons)

With the impending demise of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez, US policymakers should follow a rule that Chávez’s Cuban medical team ignored: Primum non nocere — First, do no harm.

The State Department should set aside any plans that would legitimize a successor regime in Caracas, at least until key demands are met:

  • The ouster of narco-kingpins who now hold senior posts in government;
  • The respect for a constitutional succession;
  • The adoption of meaningful electoral reforms to ensure a fair campaign environment and a transparent vote count in expected presidential elections; and
  • The dismantling of Iranian and Hezbollah networks in Venezuela.

Now is the time for US diplomats to begin a quiet dialogue with key regional powers to explain the high cost of Chávez’s criminal regime, including the impact of chavista complicity with narcotraffickers who sow mayhem in Colombia, Central America, and Mexico. Perhaps then we can convince regional leaders to show solidarity with Venezuelan democrats who want to restore a commitment to the rule of law and to rebuild an economy that can be an engine for growth in South America.

As Venezuelan democrats wage that struggle against chavismo, regional leaders must make clear that Syria-style repression will never be tolerated in the Americas. We should defend the right of Venezuelans to struggle democratically to reclaim control of their country and its future. Only Washington can make clear to Chinese, Russian, Iranian, and Cuban leaders that, yes, the United States does mind if they try to sustain an undemocratic and hostile regime in Venezuela. Any attempt to suppress their self-determination with Chinese cash, Russian arms, Iranian terrorists, or Cuban thuggery will be met with a coordinated regional response.

US law enforcement and prosecutors can do their part by putting criminal kingpins in jail or, at the very least, on the defensive so they cannot threaten or undermine a reform agenda.

US development agencies should work with friends in the region to form a task force of private sector representatives, economists, and engineers to work with Venezuelans to identify the economic reforms, infrastructure investments, security assistance, and humanitarian aid that will be required to stabilize and rebuild that country. Of course, the expectation will be that all the costs of these activities will be borne by an oil sector restored to productivity and profitability.

Finally, we need to work with like-minded nations to reinvigorate regional organizations committed to democracy, human rights, anti-drug cooperation, and hemispheric solidarity, which have been neutered by Chávez’s destructive agenda.

12 thoughts on “A post-Chávez checklist for US policymakers

  1. ah yes, the “criminal regime” which stopped local resources going to american corporations and instead distributed it among the poor to improve their standard of living… THEY MUST BE STOPPED!

  2. see what you clowns don’t understand Chavez out foxed you Washington lackeys and played the long game by arming local militias, rearming the military and giving the Venezuela people adequete warning he anticipated this, but you forgot to mention the most important he aligned with China and traded billions of $s of oil for construction projects, so the US is going to try and destablize or invade a satellite state of China, when the US is also a satellite state of the same country, I think not !

    • Hey Roy,
      I’m on your side in this one. I personally think Chavez did do great things for Venezuela and he un-did all the harm that American corporate interests did. I hope Venezuela continues to act on it’s own volition when moving forward. A lot of these major companies are not respected in America, but they put on the show that they are. We hate them just as much as the rest of the world, but they have more money than God and routinely get there way. They control a major portion of the media too, so information is out there in defiance of them, but it’s few and far between.

  3. The author of this article still live in 20th century with cold war pants on when he/she wrote this non-sense. Why can’t we just accept the world as it is? Iraq who sucked all the US budget now is supporting Syrian government as well as Iran. What is wrong with us? Afghanistan goverment is kicking us out of the party. They even have made anti-US their campaign rethoric. In Libya what have we gained? Washington is really in total mess!

  4. We can see the world has not ended yet by reading the comments. We won’t surrender that easily to you NWO. Be prepared.

  5. Ahhh… this Israeli Likud front group puts its real major goal for Venezuela last: “The dismantling of Iranian and Hezbollah networks in Venezuela.”

    Yes indeed, the only two groups that stand between radical Jewish lunatics and stealing the water of the Litani river in Lebanon. Pathetic losers… get out of our country. You and AIPAC

  6. 50 million on food stamps. The richest country in the world is apparently too weak to enable a decent living for its own people. But this obviously weak country is strong enough to use the tax money from the poor, to fix the gambling losses of the finance industry. Instead reforms to fix the problems at home, checklists are written for other countries. What a pitiful shame. Some people’s moral compass is probably so damaged, that we could ask ourselves how they find the way to the parking lot.

  7. The author of this article should be ashamed about his dishonest attempt to associate Venezuela with narco-trafficking. It is the elites of Mexico and Colombia, which the AEI admires, who are at the centre of the trade and money laundering.

    Chavez won 14 elections, the last one by an almost ten percent majority, elections which were considered by Jimmy Carter to be among the fairest he had observed in 93 similar elections. And he did what he was elected for: he raised the poorest Venezuelans out of poverty.

  8. BUSH did it . There was a moment , a lost opportunity , when Hugo was being transported in a helicopter by the army in the middle of a coup to depose him , 2003 or so , when a door on that helicopter could have opened and a terrible tragedy , an accident , might have occured .And all would have been better . A lost opportunity . As a Great Man once said ” If there is a man , there is a problem . If there is no man , there is no problem ” Bush did it .

  9. Great to read the comments on this. People are waking up. The criminal minds infesting these think tanks, and their corporate pay masters. wont have it their own way for much longer.

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