Considering that Castro’s a master manipulator of the media, that Evo’s outdoing Jimmy Carter’s sweater schtick (Evo’s kept his prior day job as head of his country’s main coca-growers union. Can’t give up any power once acquired, a número una rule for any número uno. But I digress.), and that Hugo’s spreading money around like money was growing on mango trees, it’s hardly surprising that many believe the “charismatic-leader-helping-the-poor-offering-free-health-care-education-adult-literacy-and-job-training-initiatives-that-help-millions-of-Cubans/Bolivians/Venezuelans” meme.
What’s harder to understand is how/why foreign businesses want to take part in “joint ventures” with their regimes. Carlos Alberto Montaner raises the issue of Corporate Collaborators (also available here):
A new economic model of a collectivist nature is emerging in parts of Latin America with the complicity of some private-sector foreign companies. It was first developed in the 1990s by Fidel Castro’s government as a consequence of the sudden cutoff of Soviet aid and was later adopted by Venezuela after the rise to power of Hugo Chávez. Very likely, Bolivia will move in the same direction. It is what Chávez calls “21st-century socialism”.
. . .
To participate in these joint ventures in countries where human rights and labor laws are not respected should constitute a serious ethical problem for foreign businessmen and investors. It is absolute hypocrisy to state that an international entrepeneur should not invest in countries that use child labor or violate certain ecological standards while allowing the entrepeneur to associate with tyrannical governments that horribly mistreat the workers and, in particular, the societies they subjugate.
While on the subject of Venezuela, this morning Elephants in Academia posts
the potential marriage of a Venezuelan space program with an Iranian nuclear program is certainly food for thought.
The issue of corporate collaborators is more than a matter of ethics or the paying of indemnities in the long run. It might be a matter of life or death.