By Anna Kaiser, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – President Dilma Rousseff announced that Brazilian flags will fly at half-mast for three days to mourn the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who lost his two year long battle with cancer Tuesday afternoon in Caracas. Chávez held rule in the Latin American petroleum-producing power for over fourteen years and maintained a favorable relationship with the Brazilian government as a part of his goal to unify and empower Latin America.
President Rousseff stated: “His death is a sad day for all Latin and Central Americans. Chávez was, with out a doubt, a leader committed to his country and to the development of the people of Latin America.”
She diplomatically continued, “On many occasions, the Brazilian government did not agree with Chávez, but today, as always, we recognize him as a great leader, an irreparable loss, and above all, a friend of Brazil and of the Brazilian people.”
Brazilian analysts seem assured that Brazil’s prosperous relationship with Venezuela will continue. President of the Federation of Industries of São Paulo (Fiesp), Rubens Barbosa, told Globo TV that “the relationship between Brazil and Venezuela should continue as before.”
He continued, “Commercial relations between the two countries will likely not alter.” He further explained that the change “will translate to be more rationality when it comes to commercial economic discourse.”
Nicolás Maduro, Chávez’s Vice President and chosen successor, is currently the interim president until the election. If he prevails as Venezuela’s next president, Rafael Araújo, a historian at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, told O Globo that the good relationship between Brazil and Venezuela will be maintained, but now “without Chávez and his radical discourse.”
However, the election of the opposition could represent a stark change from the hard-Left that has ruled the country since 1999. The leader of the center-Right opposition party, Henrique Capriles, is vying for the executive power by criticizing Chávez’s corrupt and authoritarian tendencies and citing his fiscal irresponsibility as the cause for the country’s incredibly high inflation rates and food shortages.
In July, President Hugo Chávez met with the leaders of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay in Brasília Tuesday to formalize Venezuela’s entrance to Mercosur – six years after the oil-rich Caribbean nation’s first attempt to join the trade bloc.
Venezuela has enormous oil reserves – the largest in the world, according to OPEC – but produces very little else, and imports most of what it consumes. Brazil, with a wealth of hydropower resources and recently discovered pre-salt oil reserves of its own, has no need to buy Venezuelan oil, but an oil-rich neighbor is still an important factor.
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