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In the News: Chavez is gone, what’s next?

Joined: 4/21/2013
Posts: 1

From a failed revolutionary leader to a beloved president of the people, Hugo Chavez remains as the most renowned South American leader of the modern era. Chavez’s ruthless Chavism tactics, his modified version of socialism, sculpted the modern Venezuela. Ultimately succumbing to a cancer-riddled death, his departure creates great uncertainty for both the United States and other world powers. Why does his death matter to a collage or high school student? Oil is why. Venezuela possesses the world’s largest supply of heavy crude oil, 99.4 million barrels. While president, Chavez imposed strict policies of currency control, which make external economic trade difficult and expensive, ultimately created economic woes for Venezuela. With the Venezuelan presidential elections near, the oil industries watch diligently, due to two men’s possible agendas. Incumbent transitional president, Nicholas Maduro, locks horns in political battle with candidate Henrique Capriles soon.
Now, one needs to understand the history, briefly, to comprehend the importance of the Venezuelan election. Born into an impoverished Sabaneta village, Chavez lived a very simplistic life. However, Chavez soon arrived at a Venezuelan military academy, and he learned of many famous communist and socialist leaders, whom he aspired to be. Following in the footsteps of his idols, such as Fidel Castro, he gained political power, after winning the 1998 elections. He later established the Hydrocarbons Law, which gave him complete control over the Venezuelan oil companies. It devoted most oil revenues to his beloved, but economy draining, social welfare programs, creating strain on the once prosperous Venezuelan oil industry.
Now, we come to the politicians. The first, Nicholas Maduro, stands as the interim president of Venezuela between Chavez’s death and the elections. Maduro started as a humble bus driver, and he rose to the position of Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs. In short, he follows Chavez’s beliefs, which means an expansion of costly anti-poverty programs and control over the Venezuelan oil industry. His opponent, Governor of Miranda, Henrique Capriles challenges his socialist ideals by highlighting the myriad of unfinished public projects and the current food shortage, due to the oil market related depression. Additionally, he shows great interest in re-privatizing the oil industry.
What does this mean to the average American? Though the poverty line dropped from 50% to 30% with Chavez, the economic effect devastated Venezuela chronically. Venezuelan oil companies are $40 billion dollars in debt, mostly due to social welfare programs. It caused the emaciated oil industries revenues to drop from $5.6 billion to $3.8 billion. In an attempt to compensate for revenue losses, Venezuelan oil prices are rising. Meaning, your gas prices gradually rise overtime. This election either means a continued decline in Venezuelan oil productivity and increased gas prices, if Maduro wins. Or, it shows a shift in Venezuelan interest, meaning a gradual re-privatization of oil companies, and a free market Venezuela, if Capriles wins. With Americans still paying near $75.00 dollars for twenty gallons of gas, this election will greatly determine our future wallets’ weight.
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