Beyond Hugo Chávez: What to Expect in Latin America

Washington, D.C.

May 8, 2013

On May 8 at the Hudson Institute, IFPA's Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr., moderated this seminar in the IFPA-Hudson "Democracy in Latin America" seminar series.

Following his death on March 5, Hugo Chávez left behind a country suffering from massive inflation, chronic food shortages, frequent blackouts, and the world's second-highest murder rate – a country that, despite having the largest proven oil reserves on earth, must import gasoline. Chávez also left behind a quasi-imperial network of authoritarian client states scattered across Latin America and the Caribbean.

Now, in the aftermath of a disputed presidential election, Venezuelan officials are struggling to maintain their autocratic political system and keep the Chávez revolution afloat. Meanwhile, countries throughout the region are wondering how much longer chavismo will survive.

Is Venezuela headed for a major financial crisis? Will Venezuelans be able to rebuild their economy and their democracy? How can the United States help them? How will Chávez's death affect nations such as Cuba and Nicaragua, which have become dependent on Venezuelan economic subsidies? How will his death affect the populist governments in countries like Bolivia and Ecuador?

The Panelists

  • Luis Rubio, political analyst and president of the Center for Research and Development (CIDAC) in Mexico City
  • Pedro Burelli, managing partner at B&V Consulting
  • Sebastian M. Saiegh, associate professor, Department of Political Science at the University of California, and Visiting Research Scholar at the Inter-American Development Bank
  • Antonio José de la Cruz, executive director of Inter-American Trends
  • Robert L. Pfaltzgraff, Jr. (moderator), president of the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis

Ambassador Jaime Daremblum, Hudson senior fellow and director of Hudson Center for Latin American Studies, made introductory remarks.