Thursday, January 20, 2005

The coming war on Chavez

On 19 Jan Juan Cole linked to the Los Angeles Times's report on Condi Rice's confirmation hearing (see here). He was struck by how much tougher the LA Times was than most other news outlets. On Venezuela:

Rice offered blunt criticism of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, saying the United States was "very concerned about a democratically elected leader who governs in an illiberal way, and some of the steps he's taken against the media, against the opposition, I think are really very deeply troubling".

Next week openDemocracy is likely to publish an outstanding report by Ivan Briscoe, recently returned from Venezuela, on the Chavez experiment. Ivan gets to the heart of its strengths and weaknesses, and the historical context.

But (to pick up on external issues regarding Venezuela's place in the world, which Ivan doesn't go into) it looks like the US, by far the largest customer for Venezuelan oil, may not allow the experiment to continue for much longer.

A pretext for intervention could be the protection of America's gallant Colombian ally. The Chavez government is supporting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), and would clearly like to bring down the Colombian government (see "Lula acts to broker end to stand-off over Farc arrest", Andy-Webb-Vidal, Financial Times, 20 Jan).

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