Caracas, Venezuela – If Venezuela thinks that President-elect Donald Trump will soften its stance on U.S.-Venezuela relations, it is likely wrong.
It’s unclear how Trump’s candidacy will impact relations between Washington and Caracas, but he’s already promised a “tough hand” against Nicolas Maduro’s socialist regime.
"Venezuelans are good people, but they have been horribly damaged by the socialists in Venezuela and the next president of the United States must show solidarity with all the oppressed people in the hemisphere [Latin America],” Trump said at a campaign rally at Miami’s Bayfront Park.
Some fear the interaction between two belligerent temperaments such as Maduro and Trump's will leave Venezuela at the gates of an even deeper financial crisis, with oil at the center of the equation.
But others hope that Trump’s tough stance will force Venezuela to finally hand over power to the opposition.
“We are expectant,” said Congressman Ángel Medina, who sides with the opposition.
Venezuelans are also wondering what Trump will do in regard to President Obama’s actions toward a normalization of the relationship with Cuba.
"Perhaps he will put an end to this sort of political and economic opening with Cuba, [which] may also impact the relationship with Venezuela by re-including Cuba as an ideological enemy,” said Gustavo Salcedo, a political analyst who specializes in relations between the U.S. and Latin America.
“Maybe Venezuela is included in the bag of enemies that ought to be financially sanctioned."
Obama had a rocky relationship with the regime – though in recent months seemed to be trying to smooth relations.
While no official statement or comment has been issued, members of the ruling party have been particularly vocal about President Obama’s executive order from March of 2015 in which the U.S. describes the situation in Venezuela as an “extraordinary threat” to the country’s security.
Chavistas and political analysts alike say the government will be watching closely to what President Trump does with the order, which also pinpoints seven high-ranking officials for human rights violations — among them, the directors of the National Police and of the top intelligence agency known as Sebin.
"If President Donald Trump continues to follow Obama's policy, relations will be at a very low level, as they have been ever since the executive order [was signed], said Roy Daza, a member of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela's PSUV International Committee.
“We are interested in equal relations with the United States,” he added.
But diplomatic relations between the two countries have not been the best since President George W. Bush time, when President Hugo Chavez was still alive. Ambassadors were pulled from both countries more than five years ago.
“If Trump the candidate is Trump the president, this would strengthen the polarized narrative — the narrative of ‘empire against Latin America.’ And that narrative could be adopted not only by Venezuela but also its allies,” Congressman Medina said.