Sunday, May 07, 2006

Hugo Chavez and the Emergence of South American Confidence

There was an interesting article on Hugo Chavez in The Observer today, ahead of his visit to the UK. As I have mentioned on many previous occasions, I am a big fan of Chavez. I know that there are certain aspects of his regime that are troubling, but there is much to enjoy about this man's attempts to unite South America.

Perhaps the smartest move that Chavez has done is to align himself with China and India. By signing a deal to supply oil with a country that the US is really scared of, he has provided himself with a small amount of protection from the US. Furthermore, Chavez has also moved to forge strong ties with Iran and India. Now, the alignment with Iran is clearly an attempt to cause outrage in the White House (there is nothing Chavez loves more than upsetting 'Mr Danger'!). The alliance with India is, however, a very smart move. There is no doubt that India is emerging as a real force in world politics. Who better to have on your side than India and China when you are fighting a rearguard action against the US? More to the point, wouldn't the US love to forge closer ties with these two nations?

Working in tandem with Castro, Chavez is helping fellow South American develop their own identity, independent of the White House. Castro has particularly played a key role in the emergence of stronger South American governments. It is an interesting partnership between these two characters. Venezuela provides the oil, Cuba provides medical and literacy support. Between the two of them, they are forging an alternative to western style capitalism. They are strengthening ties across the world while the US is playing power games in the Middle East. There was little mention in the western press of the 1,000 trained personnel Cuba sent to Pakistan to help in the aftermath of the earthquake in October last year.

The emergence of Morales in Bolivia is another step towards a more powerful independent South America. His attempts to nationalise the gas reserves is a move similar to Chavez's attempts to nationalise Venezuela's oil supply. Finally, these nations are discovering their place on the world stage. They are emerging with a new confidence in their own identity after centuries of outside interference.