According to Strategic Forecasting, the US and Hugo Chavez’ Government have some sort of secret understanding such that the US Government will not interfere with internal politics if Chavez guarantees supplies of oil in case of a US-Iraq war:
“Venezuelan relations have shifted dramatically since President Hugo Chavez hinted in news interviews last April that the Bush administration supported the political violence that briefly toppled him. This new relationship is based on mutual self-interest. In return for guaranteed oil supplies and anti-terror cooperation, Chavez apparently believes the Bush administration will not interfere in his country’s domestic political crisis”
I find this hard to believe. First of all, it would imply trust in Hugo Chavez which he has done nothing to earn. Second, it would imply strengthening Chavez’ position at a time when he might be getting ready to purge the military and guarantee mantaining a stronghold in the country for a long time. I can’t believe the US would like a strong Chavez so close to home and is willing to go all the way to Iraq to get rid of Saddam. Third, US policy certainly does not seem to be unified when it comes to Chavez. There are reports of a CIA meeting on Venezuela to understand what may happen in the near future and Otto Reich’s comments on “nobody copying” the Venezuelan model are not exactly very friendly ones. While I could see why right now the US would like Venezuela to be quiet, they may have just sent the opposition a message to delay any coup attempt.
(Note added the next day: Now Stratfor says a local group is ready to stage a coup and the Chavez Government will declare a state of emergency to avert it…as ususal in Venezuela…stay tuned…)