Venezuelan President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías won the presidential election with a comfortable lead over his rival in a contest that many called a choice between socialism and capitalism. In the South American country, socialism won, to the great displeasure of the West. What the election means for the future of Russian-Venezuelan relations is a continuing and strengthening of close ties and cooperation on all fronts. This cooperation is something that doesn’t please the West and those in Washington’s sphere of influence. This includes social and cultural collaboration, energy production and the development of energy resources, business, manufacturing, agricultural, and scientific development, and, lastly, cooperation in military development and cooperation.
Speaking to ecstatic supporters gathered around the presidential palace on the eve of his clear victory in the national elections, Chávez declared, “Venezuela will continue along the path of democratic and Bolivarian socialism in the 21st century”. In an election that many in the West saw as a referendum pitting the ideals of socialism against those of capitalism, the people of Venezuela made their choice loud and clear, and they’re happy with the Democratic Socialism that Chávez championed.
Shortly after the election results became clear, President Putin spoke with and congratulated the charismatic Chávez, wishing him continued success in the post of president. During the course of the conversation, both leaders gave high marks to the level of mutually-beneficial cooperation reached by both countries and confirmed Russian and Venezuela’s shared aim to strengthen what’ve traditionally been friendly relations. The leaders also spoke about further developing and completing many joint plans and stated their commitment to continuing the constructive dialogue between the governments of both countries at all levels.
On the other side of the spectrum, the reaction from the West was far from warm, with the White House reacting faster than it did when President Putin was re-elected, but not congratulating the re-elected leader himself. The frosty reaction from the White House to the leader who not long ago said he supported American President Obama came in the form of a terse press statement congratulating the Venezuelan people, not Chávez himself. As one of the few countries left in the world which pursues a robust and independent foreign policy agenda and internal policies which are far from those which Washington would characterise as being in keeping with their own self-serving interests, Venezuela has found itself increasingly in Washington’s sights. Recently, it’s even been openly discussed, albeit in hushed tones, that the West may have plans to eliminate Chávez and even launch military aggression against the OPEC member.
In the field of energy alone, Venezuela has been a thorn-in-the-side of the USA for a long time, with Washington displeased over many of the policies and practises of the state oil company PDVSA, including what it sees as “discount” prices offered to Venezuela’s “Socialist Allies”. Venezuela has some of the largest oil reserves in the world and the West is displeased that they aren’t able to get their hands on the pie as much as they would like to. On Monday, analysts at J P Morgan predicted that the win by Chávez would further stifle foreign investment, meaning there will be much less possibility of the West getting their share of Venezuela’s riches. Experts and analysts from all the over the world may also see the win by Chávez as a cementing of his position on the American list for régime change, with many continuing to say that after Syria and Iran, Venezuela would be next.
Voice of Russia World Service