After Hugo Chávez Who Will Lead in Latin America?

María Victoria Murillo, a professor of Political Science and International Affairs at Columbia University, says that, though Cuba and Nicaragua might face some hardships in the long run, there won't be any major effects on the region's policies without Chávez.

"The change in regional politics, even if it started with Chávez's election in 1998, is a result of the commodity boom and other economic factors," she says. "I don't think this will change with Chávez's death. I don't think Correa or Morales, for instance, will change their public policies as a result of this."

David Smilde, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America specializing in Venezuela, also says there won't be major shifts. Instead, the policies Chávez implemented throughout the years will go on without him.

His passing "is not likely to affect regional dynamics," Smilde says. "Most of the processes which Chávez contributed to—the increase in regional independence vis-à-vis the US, and the creation of new multi-lateral initiatives such as Unasur and Celac—have inertia beyond Chávez and may even receive a boost from Chávez's death as Chávez is mythologized."

What is clear is that Chávez's death doesn't mean an abrupt end to his influence. On Tuesday, following Maduro's announcement, the heads of state of Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua all repeated, in one way or another, the sentiment: "Chávez is now more alive than ever."

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