Traditionally a solid US political ally, Venezuela, the world’s ﬁfth largest oil exporter, has undergone a fundamental policy reorientation since the election of President Hugo Chavez in 1998. The self-styled revolutionary has adopted a critical stance toward US foreign policy both internationally and in the Americas. Underscoring the extent to which the country has turned away from its historical ties, the Chavez government has forged links with Iran, Libya and Cuba, in addition to pre-war Iraq.
While Washington continues to build support for the planned Free Trade Area of the Americas, Venezuela has proposed an alternative model of regional integration that excludes the superpower. It also maintains a critical stance toward US-sponsored counter-narcotics and counter-terrorism programmes in neighbouring Colombia.