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  HOME | Opinion (Click here for more)

VenEconomy: Two Titans in Chávez’s Path

From the Editors of VenEconomy

With no one daring to say him nay and armed with a barrel full of petrodollars, Hugo Chávez had been doing as he pleased to extend his communist project throughout the American Continent, at least until just recently.

But now two titans have appeared in the arena prepared call a halt to his activities and defend the principles of non-interference and free determination of peoples and ensure respect for democracy and the rule of law in their countries.

These two titans are managing to prevail over Hugo Chávez’s hegemonic expansionism practically single handed in a Continent where the majority of presidents have been acting like amanuenses of Chávez and his political project.

One of them is the interim President of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, who, with the support of his country’s institutions, put a stop to the plans of Manuel Zelaya –a president who was obsequiously following in Chávez’s and Fidel’s footsteps- for imposing a totalitarian regime in Honduras.

The courage shown by the Hondurans in defending their democratic institutions from Chávez’s interference, despite the unbelievable opposition of the international community, is worthy of respect. This Tuesday, August 25, saw the failure of another attempt by the OAS to impose the Pact of San José, which would have returned Zelaya to office. The firm attitude adopted by Micheletti in the face of such a lack of understanding was remarkable. He was categorical on three points: Like it or not, Zelaya will not return; they are not afraid of an international embargo; and the presidential elections will be held in November 2009, as planned.

The other continental titan is the extremely diplomatic President of Colombia, Álvaro Uribe, who has been applying the brakes, on the quiet, on Chávez’s attempts to mediate with the FARC and expand his leadership to Colombia. Uribe’s patience in the face of Chávez’s abuses finally snapped in 2008, when he dotted i’s and crossed t’s following the seizure of the famous computers belonging to narco-terrorist Raúl Reyes, which contained ample evidence of Chávez’s many ties with the FARC. At that time, the situation became extremely tense, when Chávez, taking offense at the accusations, angrily went through the motions of suspending trade, breaking off diplomatic relations, and mobilizing troops that barely got moving.

The situation soon returned to normal, thanks efforts on the diplomatic front. Then, a few weeks ago, two items of new stirred things up again. The first was information on the seizure of some Venezuelan AT-4 rocket launchers, manufactured in Sweden, from the FARC, about which the Chávez administration failed to give any coherent explanation to the governments of Sweden and Colombia, as requested. And the second was the announcement that Colombia was to sign an agreement that would allow the US Air Force to use seven military bases in Colombian territory to fight against narco-terrorism, in the place of the agreement between the United States and Ecuador under which the United States was able to run operations at Manta Military Air Base.

Since then, Chávez and his government have not ceased to hurl insults at Colombia and the United States. He has suspended trade relations and threatened to raise winds of war in the region if Uribe does not desist from this agreement. But all this belligerence has been to no avail. The agreement is going ahead and is only waiting to be signed.

As a result, Chávez’s fury is in crescendo. On Sunday, August 23, he announced, during his Aló Presidente, that he would call on the people of Colombia to “defend” Venezuela. But the Colombians stopped him in his tracks, announcing that they would repel any actions to implement Chávez’s expansionist project and that they would not allow him to interfere in their country.

This Tuesday, Uribe will be waiting for Chávez at the OAS and at Unasur, not only to discuss the cooperation agreements Venezuela has signed with “other countries outside the region” (read outlaw governments such as Iran and Belarus or even Russia), but also so to get him to explain Venezuela’s arms race and his government’s ties with narco-terrorism.

Faced with these two titans, it looks as though Chávez doesn’t have things easy.

VenEconomy has been a leading provider of consultancy on financial, political and economic data in Venezuela since 1982.

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