"The United States traditionally has had close relations with Venezuela, but there has been friction in relations with the Chavez government. The Bush Administration expressed strong support for the work of the OAS in resolving the crisis, welcomed the May 2003 political accord, and supported its implementation. After the recall referendum, the Administration congratulated the Venezuelan people for their commitment to democracy. At the same time, U.S. officials stressed the importance of reconciliation on the part of the government and the opposition in order to resolve their political differences peacefully. A dilemma for U.S. policymakers has been how to press the Chavez government to adhere to democratic principles without taking sides in Venezuela's polarized political conflict. Since Venezuela is a major supplier of foreign oil to the United States, a key U.S. interest has been ensuring the continued flow of oil exports at a reasonable and stable price. Despite friction in U.S.-Venezuelan relations and despite past threats by President Chavez to stop selling oil to the United States, Venezuela has remained a steady supplier of oil to the United States. In 2005, Administration officials have used increasingly strong language to express concerns about President Chavez's actions in Venezuela and in Latin America."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32488