Bloomberg News

Daniel Yergin Talks About the Impact of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez

March 05, 2013

Daniel Yergin, vice chairman of IHS and author of “The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money & Power,” said high oil prices made Chavez’s presidency possible.

“It’s too soon to say what Hugo Chavez’s death means for oil prices, but it is certainly true that oil prices are what made Hugo Chavez possible.

‘‘The collapse of oil prices in 1997-8 and the resulting discontent in Venezuela gave him the opening to become president, just seven years after he was sent to jail for leading a coup. And it was rising oil prices since 2000 that gave him the financial resources to consolidate power, court public opinion and try to turn his Bolivarian revolution into a global campaign for ‘twenty-first century socialism.’

‘‘He leaves behind an economy greatly weakened by spending, intervention, inflation capital flight, and shortages. And, beyond Cuba, his effort to create an alliance against what he called ‘‘the U.S. empire’’ managed only to enlist a few countries.

‘‘Without his charisma and force of character, it is not all clear how his successors will maintain the system he created.’’

To contact the reporters on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at; Asjylyn Loder in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andre Soliani at

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