Sunday, October 29, 2006

Will they say it is a big win for Chavez? 

Over the past few months the international grouping of Chavez haters have had a field day blaming Chavez for the electoral defeat of any leftists in Latin America. The elections in Peru, Mexico, and Ecuador were said to show Latin Americans rejecting Chavez – never mind that he wasn’t on the ballot.

AMLO loses by a whisker (assuming he really did lose) and somehow that is Chavez’s fault rather than say AMLO’s fault for making the dumb decision not to debate. In Ecuador, one leftist has votes stolen away by yet another independent leftist and somehow that is a rejection of Chavez?

No matter. Maybe Chavez really was rejected by those electorates and really did scare people away from voting for perceived leftist candidates. And maybe as our dear friend Andres Oppenheimer says, Chavez’s international support has peaked and is now in steady decline.

But today tens of millions of Brazilians will go to the polls to choose a new president in an election that has largely flown under the radar because it is seen as a forgone conclusion that Lula will win. As we all know, Lula and Chavez have been good friends. When Venezuela had its hour of need do to the opposition shutting down its oil industry Brazil came to the rescue shipping tanker loads of gasoline to Venezuela. When the opposition kept up a steady drumbeat of cries of repression Lula pointed out to the world that if anything Venezuela has “an excess of democracy”. Likewise, when sharing a stage with Lula at the Social Forum in Porte Alegre and hearing some in the crowd boo Lula for his perceived slowness in carrying out social reforms it was Chavez who clearly told the crowd that working and poor people have a true friend in Lulu.

I therefore have a question: When Chavez’s close friend and confidant, Lula, wins big in a country that has far more people than Mexico, Peru, and Ecuador combined and is clearly the economic and political center of gravity for South America will we here from the chattering classes what a big victory this is for Chavez? Will Mr. Oppenheimer opine that Chavez’s international prowess has now bee revitalized based on a sweeping victory of his good friend? Although I have a pretty good guess on this we should know for sure soon.

FINAL NOTE: In the article by Andres Oppenheimer they quoted are other good friend – Michael Shifter from the American Dialogue think tank. He told Mr. Oppenheimer “ that Chávez `is showing to be less durable than many people thought, both internationally and internally.'

Huh?!?! Even if Chavez’s international popularity is indeed debatable he is “less durable” internally! This being said a month from when he will likely win another 6 year term by 20 to 30 points. What more “durability” could he have than that?


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