Declining commodity prices in the face of the global recession mean that any oil-based polity is going to need to reevaluate its posture in the world, and it seems that with Barack Obama in office, Hugo Chavez has concluded that anti-American bluster isn’t the asset it once was.
As Neil Sinhababu says the US-Venezuelan conflict of the Bush years had remarkably little content to it beyond the cycle of hostility and mutual recriminations. There aren’t really much in the way of concrete disputes. So improved relations should be relatively easy to achieve as long as both countries see a “reset” as suiting their own preferred approach. Unlike with Iran, there aren’t a ton of thorny issues on the docket.