The death of Hugo Chavez presents an opportunity for the new Venezuelan leadership to tone down the rhetoric of anti-Americanism and put our bilateral relations on a pragmatic basis.
The U.S. remains the principal purchaser of Venezuelan oil which is refined in Gulf Coast refineries for later export to China and other markets. Food and pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, spare parts and electrical equipment are bought from the U.S. although payment for these goods is delayed and consumers must wait 4 to 5 months for the new inventory to arrive at Venezuelan ports.
Venezuela is in the midst of an economic crisis with shortages of U.S. dollars, a devaluation of 32 percent and the prospect of searing inflation. Furthermore, Venezuela needs foreign direct investment, technical expertise and spare parts from the U.S.
Rather than demonizing Washington, an opportunity exists for Caracas to reframe the relationship to a realistic mode.