Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Political Science

First Advisor's Name

Eduardo Gamarra

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dario Moreno

Third Advisor's Name

Astrid Arraras

Fourth Advisor's Name

Felix Martin

Date of Defense



The Soviet Union's dissolution in December 1991 marks the end of the Cold War and the elimination of the United States' main rival for global political-economic leadership. For decades U.S. foreign policymakers had formulated policies aimed at containing the spread of Soviet communism and Moscow's interventionist policies in the Americas. They now assumed that Latin American leftist revolutionary upheavals could also be committed to history.

This study explores how Congress takes an active role in U.S. foreign policymaking when dealing with revolutionary changes in Latin America. This study finds that despite Chavez's vitriolic statements and U.S. economic vulnerability due to its dependence on foreign oil sources, Congress today sees Chavez as a nuisance and not a threat to U.S. vital interests. Devoid of an extra-hemispheric, anti-American patron intent on challenging the United States for regional leadership, Chavez is seen by Congress largely as a threat to the stability of Venezuela's institutions and political-economic stability. Today both the U.S. executive and the legislative branches largely see Bolivarianism a distraction and not an existential threat.

The research is based on an examination of Bolivarian Venezuela compared to revolutionary upheaval and governance in Nicaragua over the course of the twentieth century. This project is largely descriptive, qualitative in approach, but quantitative data are used when appropriate. To analyze both the U.S. executive and legislative branches' reaction to revolutionary change, Cole Blasier's theoretical propositions as developed in the Hovering Giant: U.S. Responses to Revolutionary Change in Latin America 1910- 1985 are utilized. The present study highlights the fact that Blasier's propositions remain a relevant means for analyzing U.S. foreign policymaking.





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