This thesis explores the degree to which U.S. policy toward Venezuela helps to explain the decrease of U.S. influence in Latin America, focusing on the period since 1998, when left-leaning Hugo Chávez took office as President of Venezuela. The thesis argues that U.S. foreign policy toward Venezuela has negatively affected its regional influence in Latin America, in two ways. First, by adopting policy stances toward Venezuela that have been both swift and hardline relative to the dominant Organization of American States (OAS) stances, the U.S. has to a certain degree isolated itself from the OAS, an organization that operates on consensus. Second, it seems that U.S. antagonism toward Venezuela has helped encourage the rise of regional organizations that compete with the OAS and in which the U.S. is not a part. Therefore, to the extent to which the U.S. has retained influence in the OAS, that influence matters less at a regional level than it otherwise would, due to the competing organizations. The thesis argues that, to regain some of its lost influence within Latin America, the United States must first pursue matters of mutual agreement within the OAS to regain trust from the member states. From there, the United States can once again engage in effective foreign policy with Venezuela, but through the OAS as an intermediary.
Security Studies (Western Hemisphere)
Naval Postgraduate School
Master of Arts in Security Studies (Western Hemisphere)
National Security Affairs
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