The former chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee tells Newsmax the death of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez is unlikely to have any effect on global oil prices in the short term, but could bring greater stability — and possibly a big price drop — in the long term.
“If we get a government that’s more friendly to the West — it brings about fundamental reforms in Venezuela — I think you could perhaps in the long term say it’s positive for the United States,” predicted Hoekstra speaking in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. “It’s positive for American consumers because a stable oil market will mean that prices will go down.
“Chavez was always one you’re never quite sure what was going to happen,” he said. “Instability breeds premium pricing. Stability will lower prices, lower risk — and hopefully that’s what we’ll see.”
Hoekstra, who is on the advisory board of LIGNET, a global intelligence and forecasting service based in Washington, D.C., said that the United States should respond to Chavez’ death in a “professional” and respectful manner.
“We need to extend our sympathy to the people of Venezuela. They’ve lost their president,” explained Hoekstra, who recently made a bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Michigan.
But Hoekstra believes that the United States should also approach Chavez’ passing as an opportunity.
“We need to recognize that Hugo Chavez has not been a friend to the United States and has been an antagonist to us,” he said. “And we now need to use this as an opportunity to reach out to the people of Venezuela, and hopefully start a new chapter with that country and develop a much better relationship.”
He believes the United States will pursue back channels to promote a new relationship with the oil-rich state.
“I think at least over the next couple of weeks, over the next couple of months, there’s just going to be a lot of backroom discussions,” said Hoekstra. “I hope that there’s reaching out to see if there is a way to find common ground and to set the relationships between the two countries on a new track.”
Any time there is a leadership change in a country, there also is a chance for the United States to achieve better relations, he explained.
“Any time there is a significant change, which you’ll have when a leader of a country passes away, it’s significant change. It provides us with that opportunity,” he said. “I ‘m assuming that the secretary of state, the president, the full administration, is going to do everything that they can to use this as creating a turning point in our relationships.”
He predicted that the United States will be in a much better position to determine whether it is better off with Venezuela’s new leadership six months from now.
“I think Chavez, and the agenda that Chavez has put in place was nothing but problematic for the United States,” said Hoekstra.
“His relationships in South America, the governments that he propped up, the relationship that he developed with Cuba, the relationship that he developed with Iran — was really nothing more than an anti-American tirade and this now again provides us the opportunity to move into a new direction,” he added.
Hoekstra also said that he would avoid any response to Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro’s assertion that Chavez was somehow infected with cancer by "imperialist" enemies.
“You let him make the remarks that he needs to make and you just leave them go,” said Hoekstra. “When there’s nothing there in substance, just leave it go. People in America, people in Venezuela — they’ll make their own judgments on those kinds of statements and I don’t think they’ll give them a lot of credibility.”
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