Jacksonville, FL - The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has the US closely watching who will take his place, and one local expert says it could mean change.
“There’s some threat of instability. There are problems inside of Venezuela because there is corruption and mismanagement,” says University of North Florida International Politics Associate Professor David Schwam-Baird.
He says Chavez was able to build a following based largely on his unique character, and he doesn’t know whether any successor will be able to fill those shoes. For the reigning party, that means having to unite behind the Vice President.
“Even if he has a hard time holding on, the party is probably going to support him just so that they don’t give any advantage to the opposition,” he says.
While the opposition party is generally favored by the US, they do not necessarily have an easier time taking control.
“The opposition itself isn’t unified, there are a lot of different fault lines,” he says.
Regardless of who takes party in the election which will come in the next 30 days, Schwam-Baird doesn’t expect there will be a significant change in US relations, one way or another. He says the country is, however, watching closely because of the national interests in the region, like oil. Even with potential instability as the new leadership is decided, he doesn’t believe Venezuela poses any real, physical threat.