Importance of Oil U.S. dependence on Venezuelan oil reinforces the necessity of maintaining a functioning relationship between the two governments. Since Chavez was elected president in 1998, he has demonstrated a clear understanding of the strategic aspect of Venezuelas unfettered oil production. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the U.S. has imported an average of 1.4 million barrels of crude oil and derivatives a day from Venezuela for the past 11 years.
COUNCIL ON HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS www.coha.org 5 Cuba Issue / Continued from page 4. the desire and conditions for change are in the abandoning his slow and familiar rumba and diplomacy and steer away from routine and air, hope remains. But with the window of op- preparing for the up-tempo salsa if he means formulaic policies. If he does this by taking the portunity potentially closing while he casts to get the job done. necessary transformational strides while both his eyes elsewhere, Obama would do well by Research Associate Felipe Matsunaga U.S.-Venezuela Ambassadorial Relations Progress On June 26, 2009, almost a year after U.S. racas. The Bush administration responded in economic clout in the region. Projects such as Ambassador Patrick Duddy was ordered to kind by expelling both Venezuela’s and Boliv- the Bank of the South, Telesur and the Boli- leave Caracas, the Chávez and Obama ad- ia’s ambassadors from Washington. More than varian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA), ministrations were able to come to an agree- eight months and one presidential administra- among other economic initiatives, have had a ment that allowed Duddy and his Venezuelan tion later, a renewal far-reaching impact counterpart Ambassador Bernardo Álvarez, to of dialogue between in Latin America. return to their posts. Late last year, as a result Venezuela and the These various alli- of growing tensions between Venezuela and U.S. has brought ances, often created the United States, both nations withdrew their about the settle- through Venezu- ambassadors. Unable to resolve the dispute ment of the dispute elan-funded proj- before his departure from the White House, and the full restora- ects, are continu- President George W. Bush left it for Obama tion of diplomatic ously increasing in to handle. Venezuelan Foreign Relations Min- relations, with both size and scope as ister Nicolas Maduro spoke to U.S. Assistant countries commit- new ones develop Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Af- ting themselves to and come to the fairs Thomas Shannon on June 23 in regards to engage each other fore. As these initia- restoring both diplomats as soon as possible. in a constructive tives gain momen- By June 26, Alvarez was preparing to return to manner. tum, Venezuela, Washington as Venezuela’s legate. Duddy, too, through Chávez’s Profile of Construc- was back in Caracas on behalf of the United activism, cements tive U.S-Venezuela States, by the end of June. its regional leader- Relations ship. Even the sharp Initial Dispute A robust relation- The contention between Venezuela and decline in oil prices ship between Cara- and the shrinkage the United States began in September 2008, cas and Washington of Venezuela’s avail- but it was not due to any direct confrontation is vital for the Obama administration if it ear- able funding, which have cut the volume of between the two countries. Rather, it was trig- nestly seeks to improve the United States’ in- financing from Caracas, have failed to signifi- gered by an incident involving Bolivia and the jured ties with Latin America. In recent years, cantly curtail the spread of Chávez’s influence U.S. Ambassador to La Paz, Philip Goldberg. Venezuela, along with Cuba, has had a history and ideology. Bolivian president Evo Morales accused Gold- of tumultuous encounters with the United berg of attempting to overthrow his administra- Importance of Oil States. In order to create stronger bonds with tion, with Washington’s backing, and ordered U.S. dependence on Venezuelan oil reinforc- the region, Obama has decided to display a him out of the country before he could pose a es the necessity of maintaining a functioning new willingness to wor
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