Venezuela elections and more
Three Venezuelan opposition parties on Tuesday pulled out of congressional elections planned for Sunday, saying the conditions were tilted toward President Hugo Chavez's government.
Excellent move. Don't fall into the Mugabe trap as the MDC did. Participating in elections which are sure to be rigged in favor of your local dictator only legitimizes and reinforces the regime. Better to draw international attention by highlighting the frauds than to participate in a farce only to have Jimmy Carter certify it "free and fair". Chavez will obtain complete control of congress one way or another, but at least he will not be able to claim that he did it through "popular vote".
In fact, Chavez is preparing to crush any kind of internal opposition:Venezuela has sworn in commanders of a new military reserve which President Hugo Chavez says is meant to deter aggression against his country. Twenty-thousand reservists paraded before Mr Chavez at the main military barracks in Caracas. The new formation, which the president wants to become a two million-strong force in the near future, will be directly under his command.
There is more:
Spain agreed Monday to sell 12 military planes and eight patrol boats to Venezuela in a $2 billion deal that the United States has threatened to block.
And he continues relentlessly to exploit high oil prices to spread his venom:
The Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, has launched a regional oil initiative to provide fuel at cheaper prices to 15 Caribbean nations. Cuban President Fidel Castro - who is also attending the summit - hailed the initiative as an important step toward greater regional solidarity.
Covering all the angles:
Telesur is a new pan-Latin American TV channel based in Venezuela. It aims to rival CNN and the other Spanish-language news channels coming out of Miami and Atlanta. Some have already dubbed it Al-Bolivar - a combination of the Arabic news channel, Al-Jazeera, and President Hugo Chavez's favourite independence hero.
This is fishy, too:
For the first time since the fiery Hugo Chavez was elected as Venezuela's president, a multilateral institution, the Inter-American Development Bank (IADB), has approved a major loan deal for the country. Furthermore, Venezuela took pains preparing the ground diplomatically to win support from its neighbours.
Take what occurred in July, when Venezuela withdrew its candidate to be president of the IADB just before elections for the bank's new president were held. As a result, several Central American and Caribbean countries - which would have voted for the Venezuelan candidate because they receive oil from Venezuela at concessionary rates - were free to vote for the Colombian candidate, Luis Alberto Moreno, who duly won. After this, an overwhelming majority of Latin American countries voted in favour of granting Venezuela the IADB loans, despite opposition from the US (the IADB's biggest shareholder), which now opposes all loans from multilateral banks for Venezuela automatically, as a matter of policy.
With Morales in Bolivia poised to win next elections (18 December), the outlook for Latin America looks bleak indeed.
The consequences of this election, if Morales wins, will rattle all of South America. Bolivia is the world's third-largest producer of coca, with almost 75,000 acres devoted to that accursed crop. The top producers are Colombia and Peru. With coca friendly Morales leading, Bolivia will soon head the list. That must worry Brazil, because it is the first destination of that Bolivian drug. However, as dangerous as the drug is a potential war against Chile. With allies such as Cuba and Venezuela, two brawler states, it is likely that Bolivia will try to recover, manu militari, the territory it lost to Chile during the War of the Pacific, 1879-1883.