In today’s WaPo, A Latin Backlash: Hugo Chavez has managed to replace George W. Bush as the imperialist specter (emphasis added):
Now at last, Mr. Chavez is the object of a growing backlash from leaders around Latin America — from Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Nicaragua, among other countries. In part, the politicians are responding to foolish overreaching by Mr. Chavez, who has been busy trying to turn Bolivia into a satellite state while suggesting he has similar plans for much of the rest of the continent. Latin Americans don’t like imperialism, whether it comes from Washington or Caracas. And even leftist leaders, like those who rule in Brazil and elsewhere in South America, find it hard to imagine themselves prospering in a Venezuela-led economic bloc that includes Cuba but shuns the United States.
The other reason Latins have found their anti-Chavez tongues is delightfully pragmatic: It’s a proven vote-getter. Elections are taking place or are on the way in a host of Central and South American countries — and politicians in most of them are finding that linking their opponents to Venezuela’s demagogue works wonders.
I heartily agree with the WaPo:
The Bush administration, which has haplessly allowed Mr. Chavez to exploit the U.S. president as a political foil for years, has hit on just the right response as it has watched Peruvians and Mexicans turn the tables on the Venezuelan: It has kept quiet. The sight of Latin Americans rising up in defense of democratic values, and against the attempt of a would-be regional hegemonist to subvert them, is inspiring — and it requires nothing from Washington save discreet applause.
At the Guardian,
like other leftwing parties fighting tight election races in Latin America this year, the new-look Sandinistas have a problem they cannot control. It is called Hugo Chávez, the Venezuelan president and self-styled socialist revolutionary who seems hell-bent on recreating cold war-era confrontation with Washington. As political hopefuls from Mexico to Peru are discovering, Mr Chávez can be a dangerous friend.
“I shouldn’t say I hope you win because they will accuse me of sticking my nose into Nicaraguan affairs,” Mr Chávez told Mr Ortega recently, “But I hope you win.” As predicted, his intervention brought protests from rivals and Nicaragua’s government. So, too, did his offer of cheap fuel for Sandinista voters. It was not an endorsement suited to Mr Ortega’s new image.