Friday, September 4, 2009

Is Russia going to be numbered with Hugo Chavez?

Stymied in trying to advance his anti-U.S. agenda in Latin America, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is tightening the screws at home - and touring friendly autocratic regimes abroad.

“Opponents are organizing a massive march for Saturday in Caracas, disregarding warnings by Venezuela's top federal prosecutor . . . Chavez won't be in Venezuela to hear these calls, however. He is in the midst of visiting friendly autocracies in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

“Chavez began this trip after failing to convince other South American presidents at a regional summit last week to condemn the expanded U.S. military presence planned for neighboring Colombia.

“Not winning their backing marked the latest in a string of defeats for Chavez in Latin America, including the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, a key ally in Central America.”

“. . . Chavez thought he could capitalize on the leaked word that Colombia was planning to allow U.S. troops to have access to seven of its military bases throughout the country. . . “Chavez warned repeatedly that it "loosed the winds of war" and would lead to a U.S. invasion of Venezuela. To dramatize his concern, Chavez threatened to cut off trade with Colombia - a major source of food, machinery and cars for Venezuela - as well as diplomatic relations.

“At Friday's meeting in the Argentine ski resort of Bariloche, Colombian President Alvaro Uribe vigorously defended the agreement. He said the U.S. would never have more than 1,400 troops in Colombia at any time and they would be there only to assist the government fight against drug traffickers and the FARC guerrillas.

“Peruvian President Alan Garcia challenged Chavez's talk of an "invasion threat," by reminding everyone who's buying his oil.

"’Why are they going to dominate the petroleum if you already sell it all to the United States?’ Garcia playfully asked Chavez.

“Everyone in the room erupted in laughter - everyone, that is, but Chavez.

The summit's final declaration didn't condemn the U.S.-Colombian deal, as Chavez sought. Instead, it called for strengthening the fight against terrorism and drug trafficking - Uribe's main goals - while saying that foreign powers couldn't threaten other nations.

"Bariloche was a defeat for Chavez," said Maria Teresa Romero, a foreign policy specialist at Venezuela's Central University in Caracas. "Uribe emerged in a more advantageous position."

“Rafael Nieto, a political columnist for Colombia's main newspaper, El Tiempo, said Chavez had already lost ground in Latin America when Honduras' military forced Zelaya into exile at gunpoint on June 28, the same day that Argentine voters handed a stinging election defeat to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, another of his allies.

“On top of that, Nieto added, Paraguay's Senate recently blocked Chavez's move to join the Mercosur trade bloc, and El Salvador's new leftist president, Mauricio Funes, declared Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to be his model, not Chavez.

"’Chavez's authoritarian measures in Venezuela scare people in other countries,’ Nieto said.

“That doesn't seem to be the case in the countries he's visiting during his 11-day trip. Libyan President Moammar Gadhafi awarded him a medal, and Algeria's president discussed strengthening oil ties.

“Still to come: Syria, Iran, Belarus and Russia.

Back home . . . His unmatched political charisma and continued ability to hand out money generated by oil profits have kept him popular among slightly more than half of all Venezuelans . . .

“. . . Chavez has had the government take over private radio stations and has threatened to close Globovision, the lone remaining TV station that regularly airs critical coverage of him.”

“Middle-class opponents of Chavez have heightened their resistance since a compliant Congress approved a Chavez measure three weeks ago that opponents say would force teachers to indoctrinate students with communist ideas. . . .”


Having trouble at home, Hugo Chavez is off on a tour to garner support from other autocracies. If he does, maybe the Latin American nations that presently scoff at him will be impressed.

He is starting his tour with that illustrious autocrat, Moammar Gadhafi; then onto Syria and Iran, nations he considers Autocratic be we in the West tend to call “Rogue States.”

And then, most interesting to me, he plans to visit Belarus and Russia.

If I were a modern day Russian, searching for a new identity after my Stalinist past, and Hugo Chavez came a calling, assuming that he and I were thinking alike, I would seriously reexamine my thoughts.

1 comment:

Michael Kuznetsov said...


There is no such notion as "modern day" Russian. The Russians are all the same Russians always.
In fact, one may be either a Russian, or a non-Russian, or an un-Russian.
Quartum non datur.

As to the Leader Muammar Al Gathafi, he proved to be a brilliant politician who understands Russia much better than many of his Western counterparts.
See his article Provoking Russia