Venezuelan Politics and Human Rights

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Unpacking Anti-US Sentiment in Venezuela

Timothy Gill

Throughout the 20th Century the US and Venezuela maintained warm relations. Venezuelan oil flowed to the US and the US consistently supported Venezuelan leaders—dictators and democrats alike. 

That all changed, of course, during the fourteen years of the Chavez government. The US was ill disposed to a leftist, anti-imperialist government that sought to increase oil prices. And Chavez increasingly used the US as his main symbolic foil for consolidating his Bolivarian revolution. Indeed, in his last years, President Chávez hardly made a public appearance and statement without castigating the US Empire and its alleged efforts to unseat him.

How well does this anti-US rhetoric resonate with the Venezuelan population? The answer is not at all clear. Many observers note that Venezuelan culture borrows heavily from the US with its love of baseball, fast food, Hollywood films, and beauty pageants. In addition, many Venezuelans have relatives that live in the US, or have lived there themselves. 

In a new book on US-Venezuelan relations, Javier Corrales and Carlos Romero argued that the Chávez and now Maduro government’s anti-US rhetoric does the government more harm than good with its domestic constituency. They suggest that while anti-US rhetoric serves to unify radicals, it repels most others.  

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Filed under venezuela united states public opion Pew report