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Chavez’s death may result in some changes in the alignment of forces in Latin America

March 06, 2013, 16:28 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara

The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will hardly influence strongly the relations between Caracas and Moscow or Washington, but may result in some changes in the alignment of forces in Latin America, Deputy Director of the state-run television company Rossiya Sergey Brilev told Itar-Tass on Wednesday. Brilev is also a member of the Presidium of the Russian Council on Foreign and Defence Policy and an author of two books about Latin America.

As for Venezuelan-Russian military contracts, in the view of Brilev, nothing threatens to them, “The supplies of Russian weapons in Venezuela are made successfully, the military hardware is already delivered to the country. This means that Venezuela is dependable from the delivery of the spare parts from Russia for many decades to come.”

In the oil industry the expert also does not see any dramatic prospects for Russian business. All foreign oil companies operate in Venezuela under the principle of participation in the joint ventures, where at least 51% of stock is owned by a Venezuelan state-run company similar to the Russian oil major Rosneft. “Any future president, no matter if he is a leftwing or a rightwing politician and if he is reasonable, he will be interested in the preservation of the current scheme,” the expert believes.

The question is whether the United States will be able to influence the process of the presidential elections in Venezuela. “In the 20th century America stepped on all possible rakes regarding Caracas. In the 2000s America refused from the supplies of the spare parts for the weapons previously sold to Venezuela. After that Caracas began to cooperate with Russia. This was a very serious blow to the US reputation. Meanwhile, quite many influential Venezuelan businesspeople live in the US. They will certainly try to put a spoke in the wheels of a leftwing candidate for presidency,” the expert gave sceptical comments on the issue.

In the view of Brilev, the alignment of forces in Latin America may change after Chavez’s death, “Chavez ‘tamed’ his allies in the anti-imperialistic struggle with the oil supplies at the beneficial prices. It is unclear yet whether a future Venezuelan leadership will go on this path. Political allied relations need a financial and raw material support. Whether this support will remain in effect, it is a very important question for the situation in Latin America.”

The Russian expert noted that with Chavez’s passing away Venezuela will cease to be an obvious political centre, an important political player with all its abundant natural resources, “Sooner we will witness how Brazil will turn in an omnipotent leader in Latin America,” he predicts.

Over the death of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela the pre-election rivalry actually began, moreover, in the camp of the supporters of the late president, the expert believes.

“A very interesting constitutional intrigue has emerged in Venezuela. When Vice-President Nicolas Maduro announced about Chavez’s death last night, all supporters of the demised president, except for Speaker of the Venezuelan parliament Diosdado Cabello, were standing behind him. So, the tensions have already mounted there. I do not believe that the ruling party of the country will split up and will nominate two candidates for presidency at early presidential elections. We should not forget that the opposition in Caracas is strong now as never before. However, a very serious struggle for power inside the party and inside the elite can be noted. This fact causes no doubts,” the expert said with confidence.

His position deserves a close attention, because Sergey Brilev grew up and studied in Latin America, met four times with Hugo Chavez, who was the hero of substantial interviews for the Russian television. How the Russian journalist recalls about Chavez?

“He was a tough-minded, cold-blooded, reasonable and shrewd politician. He was absolutely not a person, how he was looking like at the rallies – some kind of charismatic and high-spirited politician. Although, certainly he had a good deal of Latin American blood. However, he was not an orator, but a soberly thinking personality in personal communication,” Brilev remarked.

The Venezuelan Armed Troops have already sworn allegiance to Vice-President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas. Speaker of the Venezuelan National Assembly Diosdado Cabello, who is Chavez’s former fellow student at the Military Academy, was to become acting president of the country. Early presidential elections are to be held in a month. Chavez’s candidate Maduro will run for presidency in the rivalry with the leader of the united liberal opposition and former candidate at the latest presidential elections in the country in October 2012, former governor Henrique Capriles Radonski.

It will depend on the moods in the army, the factor of the Armed Forces, who will have an advantage in the presidential race, Brilev believes. “For the years of his rule Chavez has fulfilled the scenario, which is similar to that of turning the Russian imperial army in the Red Army or the Cuban Armed Forces in the Revolutionary Forces. Army in Latin America plays a very important role in the politics. Therefore, the Wednesday statement of the top brass of the Venezuelan Armed Forces is noteworthy, as it states that the army calls for stability, supports the vice-president and the parliament at the same time.”

Certainly, in the alignment between the rightwing and leftwing forces the army will side with the leftists, so those who will replace Chavez. But at the same time the army will be watching who will win the rivalry inside the leftist camp. If to imagine a fantastic scenario that the leader of the rightists will win the early presidential elections, after all he will have to cooperate with the Armed Forces, which Chavez had formed, where all officers were selected quite scrupulously,” Sergey Brilev underlined.


MOSCOW, March 6