Why Obama Should Meet With Hugo Chavez
The same President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela who rapped a gavel to close a session at the New York Stock exchange in 1999 called President Bush "the devil" in a 2006 speech at the United Nations. Last week he announced that despite rumors to the contrary and a freefalling price of oil he would continue a home heating oil charity program in the US which totaled $100 million and reached over a quarter of a million families last year. With this gesture of good will from Caracas and Bush out of office, will President-elect Obama be open to dialogue with the US' one-time ally?
US-Venezuelan relations have never been worse than those Obama will inherit. In September both countries withdrew their ambassadors. Among the many issues straining the relationship are Venezuela's close relationship with Castro's Cuba, and the Bush Administration's support for a short-lived coup d'état that temporarily ousted Chávez in 2002. The collapsing relationship between Washington and the US' fourth largest supplier of imported oil is too strategically significant to ignore: regardless of what one thinks of Chávez's politics-love him or hate him---it should be obvious that Obama could score an easy political victory by initiating a détente.
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