What might happen after Venezuela’s October, 2012, presidential elections? How should the U.S. respond to different outcomes?
An electoral loss for Chávez is entirely possible, although a legitimate victory is still within reach. Henrique Capriles, the main opposition candidate, might win outright. We can hope that the Chavista government would peacefully hand over power after 13 years. However, it is important to prepare for other possibilities. Chávez himself or even more radical actors in the government like his brother, a state governor, and his secretary of defense could falsify the results or hold onto power by force. Alternately, the president might sicken or even die from his ongoing struggle with cancer. In any of these scenarios, the U.S. must not intervene covertly or militarily but rather use diplomatic means to support democratic processes. Read the policy recommendation to understand what would be best in each case.