As I posted yesterday, Chavez’s official announcement of what he’s been up to all these years wrecked havoc with the financial markets.
The effect was not limited to Venezuela, but at least was limited. NYT: Venezuelan Plan Shakes Investors
Investors reacted with alarm here and in markets in the United States and throughout Latin America on Tuesday as they measured the impact of the plan by Mr. Chávez to nationalize crucial areas of the economy. Memories of past nationalizations during another turbulent era, in places like Cuba and Chile, helped drive down the Caracas stock exchange’s main index by almost 19 percent.
Markets across Latin America declined Tuesday, but the drop was modest in most other countries, with the Bovespa index in Brazil and the Bolsa index of Mexico each falling 1.9 percent. The measured reaction appears to reflect the belief of investors that Mr. Chávez, in spite of his words, has limited influence on the economic policies of other governments in the region.
Prairie Pundit, in his post (h/t Larwyn) Markets quickly send negative message to Chavez correctly states:
Socialism belongs on the ash heap of history and Chavez attempt to resurrect it is simply a power grab for his megalomania
Chavez will continue to exert power and influence in Latin America – in this morning’s headlines I also found Bolivia Allows Venezuela To Send Troops. However, in Nicaragua, former Cold War Marxist rebel Daniel Ortega, will not copy the radical economic policies of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, his main foreign ally, a top aide said on Tuesday.
In today’s Daily News Michael Shifter speculates,
Rather than assuring his longevity in office, Chavez’s moves at the outset of his eighth year as Venezuela’s president may accelerate the implosion of a political system whose soft spots and vulnerabilities are increasingly exposed.
The WaPo editorial realizes that (emphasis added)
Some will see in Mr. Chávez’s actions a threat to U.S. interests. Certainly, those who caution that it is unwise to count on Venezuela to continue supplying up to 15 percent of U.S. oil imports have a point. If assets of U.S. companies are seized without fair compensation, Venezuela should be subject to penalties. But the main threat posed by Mr. Chávez is to Venezuela’s 26 million people. If he follows through on his threats, they can look forward to steadily diminishing freedom and — if the history of socialism is any guide — national impoverishment.
I fully expect Chavez to stay in power for many years to come. Rather than an aftermath, this week’s announcement is a beginning.
Update Don’t miss David Paulin‘s article on CANTV.
Chavez’s choice of industries to expropriate is clearly strategic. A dual attack on phones and electricity is a sly effort to silence the electronic media, and with it all public scrutiny of the regime.
All electronic means of sending information – the Internet, in particular – will be at the consent of Chavez and his Cuban advisers. It also comes right after Chavez’s bid to put RCTV, a private station, out of business by not renewing its license.
Without independent media to check him, Chavez opens the gate to moves he doesn’t want the media to cover — the sorts of things Fidel Castro did to secure his permanent power, like firing-squad walls and forced labor camps. An end to a free press will also atomize society, leaving citizens less free to judge the actions of their government as anomalous or systematic. Tyrants prefer to operate in the dark.
Chavez’s ideological blueprint is not encouraging, either. He worships Castro, seeking to inherit his mantle as leader of the international left. Chavez’s other template is his devotion to Simon Bolivar, Venezuela’s first president and a Latin American icon.
It’s not well-known, but the latter’s heroic image as liberator of the Americas was tarnished by savagery — forced marches, terror and civilian murders.
Count on Chavez to be attuned to the darker side of Bolivar’s character in the socialist revolution he calls “Bolivarian.” In fact, prepare for the worst.