Venezuela: Issues for Congress [March 29, 2012]   [open pdf - 652KB]

"The United States traditionally has had close relations with Venezuela, a major supplier of foreign oil, but there has been friction and tensions in relations under the government of populist President Hugo Chávez. Over the years, U.S. officials have expressed concerns about human rights, Venezuela's military arms purchases, its relations with Cuba and Iran, and its efforts to export its brand of populism to other Latin American countries. Declining cooperation on antidrug and anti-terrorism efforts has been a major concern. The United States has imposed sanctions: on several Venezuelan government and military officials for allegedly helping the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) with drug and weapons trafficking; on three Venezuelan companies for providing support to Iran; and on two Venezuelan individuals for providing support to Hezbollah. In December 2010, Venezuela revoked its agreement for the appointment of Larry Palmer, nominated to be U.S. Ambassador to Venezuela. The United States responded by revoking the diplomatic visa of Venezuelan Ambassador Bernardo Alavrez. Despite tensions in relations, the Obama Administration remains committed to seeking constructive engagement with Venezuela, focusing on such areas as anti-drug and counter-terrorism efforts. Under the rule of President Chávez, first elected in 1998 and reelected to a six-year term in December 2006, Venezuela has undergone enormous political changes, with a new constitution and unicameral legislature, and a new name for the country, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Human rights organizations have expressed concerns about the deterioration of democratic institutions and threats to freedom of expression under the Chávez government. Venezuelans approved a constitutional referendum in February 2009 that abolished term limits, allowing Chávez to run for reelection in 2012."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, R40938
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