Monday, December 04, 2006

Chavez Wins Venezuela; Latin America Looks Ridiculous

The news out of Caracas is very disappointing: With 78 percent of the votes counted by Sunday night, the National Electoral Council reported Chavez leading Rosales by a margin of 61 percent to 38 percent [...] "Long live the socialist revolution! Destiny has been written," Chavez shouted to thousands of flag-waving supporters wearing red shirts, according to The Associated Press.
"That new era has begun," he declared with religious fervor, raising a hand in the air. "We have shown that Venezuela is red! ... No one should fear socialism... Socialism is human. Socialism is love."

With Fidel Castro hovering near death, it appears that Chavez has emerged as the region's heir-apparent to the anti-US movement popular among some in Latin America. As much as I don't like Chavez' politics, though, I'm not really worried about the "pink tide" sweeping across Latin America, though.

In short, it's because they still need us more than we'll ever need them. Speaking as someone of South American descent, I can tell you quite honestly that for all the "love" and "socialism" being spread across the region, the average person in Bolivia, Ecuador or Nicaragua would give an arm to come to the US.
Still, the Toronto Star has an interesting point of view on this issue, one that suggests that US has some serious relationship-mending to do with soon-to-be rogue states in the region:
This gallery of anti-Bush leaders also includes Bolivia's Evo Morales and the socialist warhorse Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, leaving some analysts convinced there is a historic disconnect between a U.S. State Department obsessed with Iraq and the greater Middle East and the priorities of voters in its onetime sphere of influence.

The growth of anti-Americanism, they say, is a product of a Bush administration that drifts between bellicosity and indifference in the region, does not understand the changes in its backyard and is unable or unwilling to engage enemies, perceived or real.
While the situation in Latin America is disappointing, I still think our nation's focus needs to remain on Iraq and the Middle East. My only concern with Chavez, though, is his taunting of the US by being a voal supporter of Iran's nuclear program. With that, Chavez is playing with fire and is getting himself, and more importantly his people, into a war they should want no part of.

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