Christine Romans breaks down the financial relationship between the United States and Venezuela in the wake of President Hugo Chavez's death. "It is the fourth largest supplier of gas to the U.S. Energy after - you've got Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and then Venezuela," Romans reports.
Romans explains that Chavez was simultaneously a sworn enemy and a major business partner of the United States, for really blunting American efforts in many places across Latin America for years now, by giving subsidized oil to people who agreed with him and disagreed with the United States.
“And this really gives the U.S. and its Latin American policy a great, unbelievable opening,” Romans says. “So how the U.S. treads here is really important diplomatically but also right down to what goes into your gas tank.”
In Washington, politicians reacted almost as quickly as the South Florida crowd. "Hugo Chavez ruled Venezuela with an iron hand and his passing has left a political void that we hope will be filled peacefully and through a constitutional and democratic process, grounded in the Venezuelan constitution and adhering to the Inter-American Democratic Charter," said Sen. Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Menendez called for "free and fair elections" so that "Venezuela can begin to restore its once robust democracy and ensure respect for the human, political and civil rights of its people."
The chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Rep. Ed Royce, R-California, was harsher, calling Chavez "a tyrant who forced the people of Venezuela to live in fear" and adding, "Good riddance to this dictator."
But the news was not red meat to all U.S. politicians.
Former President Jimmy Carter noted that he had gotten to know Chavez while observing elections in Venezuela. "We came to know a man who expressed a vision to bring profound changes to his country to benefit especially those people who had felt neglected and marginalized," he said in a statement. "Although we have not agreed with all of the methods followed by his government, we have never doubted Hugo Chavez's commitment to improving the lives of millions of his fellow countrymen."
On "Early Start" this morning, Shasta Darlington reports live from Caracas, Venezuela on the future of the country after Chavez.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is fighting a new infection, and his breathing problems have worsened, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said late Monday.
"There is a worsening of the respiratory function, related to the state of his depressed immune system," Villegas said, reading an official statement on state-run VTV.
He reported Chavez is battling a new and "severe" infection, stressing that his overall condition remains "very delicate." Chavez is undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments, he said.
"The president continues to hold fast to Christ and to life, aware of the difficulties he's facing," Villegas said.
This morning on "Early Start," Shasta Darlington reports on the latest in Chavez's condition.