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Chavez Next?

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Take a look at this very thorough post at Critical Montages on Venezuela, Chavez, and the gathering clouds of US intervention. (Found via Charlotte Street…)

The piece is centered on this ominous little number that I had missed in the FT this week:

Senior US administration officials are working on a policy to "contain"
Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan president, and what they allege is his
drive to "subvert" Latin America’s least stable states.

A
strategy aimed at fencing in the government of the world’s
fifth-largest oil exporter is being prepared at the request of
President George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice, secretary of state,
senior US officials say. The move signals a renewed interest by the
administration in a region that has been relatively neglected in recent
years.

Roger Pardo-Maurer, deputy assistant secretary for
western hemisphere affairs at the US Department of Defense, said the
Venezuela policy was being developed because Mr Chávez was employing a
"hyena strategy" in the region.

"Chávez is a problem because he
is clearly using his oil money and influence to introduce his
conflictive style into the politics of other countries," Mr
Pardo-Maurer said in an interview with the Financial Times.

"He’s picking on the countries whose social fabric is the weakest," he added. "In some cases it’s downright subversion."

Mr
Chávez, whose government has enjoyed bumper export revenues during his
six years in office thanks to high oil prices, has denied that he is
aiding insurgent groups in countries such as Bolivia, Colombia and
Peru. But a tougher stance from the US appears to be in the offing, a
move that is likely to worsen strained bilateral relations.

The
policy shift in Washington, which a US military officer said is at an
early stage but is centred on the goal of "containment", could also
have implications for the world oil market.

Mr Chávez has
threatened to suspend oil shipments to the US if it attempts to oust
him. He and Fidel Castro, the Cuban president, have alleged, without
offering proof, that the Bush administration was plotting to
assassinate the Venezuelan leader, an allegation that US officials have
dismissed as "wild".

Suggestions that Mr Chávez backs subversive
groups surface frequently, although so far also with scant evidence.
Colombian officials close to President Alvaro Uribe say Venezuela is
giving sanctuary to Colombian guerrillas, deemed "terrorists" by the US
and Europe.

US officials say Mr Chávez financed Evo Morales, the
Bolivian indigenous leader whose followers last week unsuccessfully
tried to force President Carlos Mesa’s resignation. In Peru allegations
emerged suggesting that Mr Chávez financed a rogue army officer who
tried to incite a rebellion against President Alejandro Toledo in
December.

Mr Chávez has dismissed such claims as fabrications
designed to undermine his attempts to foster greater political and
economic integration in Latin America.

Mr Pardo-Maurer said
Washington has run out of patience: "We have reached the end of the
road of the current approach." (Andy Webb-Vidal, "Bush Orders Policy to
‘Contain’ Chávez," March 13, 2005)

I really hope that if this one comes to a head, I won’t be having the same conversations that I had with left-interventionist friends as I did in the run up to Iraq… Seems ridiculous now to think that it could go the same way, but the world’s gone funny somehow…

Hard not to see Latin America as the last best hope nowadays. The Bush administration’s attention only ratifies that sense, no?

Written by adswithoutproducts

March 17, 2005 at 9:55 pm

Posted in Politics

One Response

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  1. And 20 years from now we’ll all shake our heads and lament what a mistake it was to have done such a thing and we’ll erect a statute to the fallen and then we’ll do it all over again. We never get tired of THIS game!

    barb

    March 27, 2005 at 1:24 pm


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