With the death of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela today, expect increased political stability in Latin America. President Chavez was an activist in international politics, encouraging ideological conflict of the anti-Western and anti-market variety. He used his country’s oil wealth to magnify his voice and achieve these ends. Investments in Venezuela and Latin America will be safer without Chavez.
Concerns that his likely successor, Mr. Maduro, will be more radical (Wall Street Journal) are almost certainly overblown. Mr. Maduro’s comments on foreign influence in the country, and his expulsion of two US diplomats, are likely meant to solidify political support among Chavez supporters. This is a short-term political strategy on the part of Mr. Maduro, without long-term effect on the Venezuelan investment environment.