Chávez Lives Castro's Dream

Por Venezuela Real - 13 de Febrero, 2007, 18:40, Categoría: Prensa Internacional

Jorge Castañeda
Newsweek /VENEZUELA IN THE INTERNATIONAL PRESS
Arcaya & Asociados
Tuesday, 13 February 2007


Fidel Castro used his reappearance on TV late last month to show that his health has finally improved. But he also carefully staged the event to send a serious message to the world. He could have had himself filmed alongside his family or his brother and successor, Raúl. Instead, he picked Hugo Chávez and Castro could never have made this much progress had other regional players not abandoned the field. Certain key countries could have rebutted the claims of the radical duo, highlighting how their social  programs rely on reckless macroeconomic policies and involve authoritarian  rule and human-rights violations. Yet, inexplicably, no one has played that lacks the commitment to Latin America that Felipe González showed in the '90s. Brazil, another good left-of-center candidate, has similarly refused,  thanks to the giant's traditional aloofness and pressure from the radical wing  of its president's otherwise moderate party. Despite its small size, Chile could offer its own attractive economic, political and gender record as an  alternative to Cuba's or Venezuela's, but President Michele Bachelet has  been reluctant to do so. As has Felipe Calderón, Mexico's new leader.

Mexico could easily use its size and record to provide a counterweight to Havana and Caracas. But Calderón has been unable to pick an approach, vacillating between cuddling up to Castro and Chávez (even if this means abandoning his two predecessors' human-rights and democracy-based foreign policies) and using his considerable debating skills and economic and democratic credentials to contest the influence of Cuba and Venezuela. 

The United States, meanwhile, is nowhere to be found. Under the best of circumstances, Washington finds it difficult to tackle several crises simultaneously. Given the current disaster in Iraq, U.S. policymakers seem even less interested in Latin America than usual. They are postponing immigration reform and trade agreement ratifications and cutting anti-drug programs, without supporting other, more effective anti-poverty programs or dearly needed rule-of-law reforms. This indifference, however, will have a high cost. In others' absence, a frail and dying octogenarian patriarch and his exuberant and eccentric disciple--both ardent baseball fans-- are stealing home without the pitcher, the catcher, the third baseman or even the umpire  seeming to notice. 



Newsweek


Fidel Castro used his reappearance on TV late last month to show that his health has finally improved. But he also carefully staged the event to send a serious message to the world. He could have had himself filmed alongside his family or his brother and successor, Raúl. Instead, he picked Hugo Chávez and Castro could never have made this much progress had other regional players not abandoned the field. Certain key countries could have rebutted the claims of the radical duo, highlighting how their social  programs rely on reckless macroeconomic policies and involve authoritarian  rule and human-rights violations. Yet, inexplicably, no one has played that lacks the commitment to Latin America that Felipe González showed in the '90s. Brazil, another good left-of-center candidate, has similarly refused,  thanks to the giant's traditional aloofness and pressure from the radical wing  of its president's otherwise moderate party. Despite its small size, Chile could offer its own attractive economic, political and gender record as an  alternative to Cuba's or Venezuela's, but President Michele Bachelet has  been reluctant to do so. As has Felipe Calderón, Mexico's new leader.

Mexico could easily use its size and record to provide a counterweight to Havana and Caracas. But Calderón has been unable to pick an approach, vacillating between cuddling up to Castro and Chávez (even if this means abandoning his two predecessors' human-rights and democracy-based foreign policies) and using his considerable debating skills and economic and democratic credentials to contest the influence of Cuba and Venezuela. 

The United States, meanwhile, is nowhere to be found. Under the best of circumstances, Washington finds it difficult to tackle several crises simultaneously. Given the current disaster in Iraq, U.S. policymakers seem even less interested in Latin America than usual. They are postponing immigration reform and trade agreement ratifications and cutting anti-drug programs, without supporting other, more effective anti-poverty programs or dearly needed rule-of-law reforms. This indifference, however, will have a high cost. In others' absence, a frail and dying octogenarian patriarch and his exuberant and eccentric disciple--both ardent baseball fans-- are stealing home without the pitcher, the catcher, the third baseman or even the umpire  seeming to notice. 







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