Tuesday, December 4, 2007
What has just happened in Venezuela is very characteristic of the world trends. Nationalistic fervor in support of Hugo Chavez, while not enough to pass his proposed referendum, is the galvanizing force behind all this. The referendum failed only by a couple of percents (49 to 51%), which illustrates how much influence he has got in his country. His proposals were almost revolutionary and Napoleonic. He was basically going to make himself the president of his country until his death. He was also going to get vast powers under the new Constitution. Some say, he lost the battle but won the war (full story here and here>). Others say, there is still hope for democracy in Venezuela. Cult of personality is always antithetical to true democracy. His attempts to become the 'father' of his nation, very reminiscent of Stalin, are alarming.
But there is also a geopolitical problem here. He is capitalizing on the dissatisfaction with the US influence in Venezuela. People who have financially benefitted from his 'localistic' economic policies are his most ardent supporters. Localism means selling oil that Venezuela possesses at a price it chooses, not pushed by the US. Or maybe refusing to sell to the US altogether... Of course, this is not only about localism, but protecting national interests. Thus, Chavez may in fact gather enough support under this design. Saddam Hussein did that for many years. Using the anti-American sentiments to his personal benefit he built his empire and dictatorship. ...