December 10, 2002
POP-LEFTIST 'TREND' TESTING DEMOCRACIES
** Observers find Latin American democracies working but being put
to the test amid turmoil in Venezuela, ongoing conflict in Colombia and the populist-leftist
"trend" in Brazil and Ecuador.
** Writers concluded that the leftist
"phenomenon" is growing out of frustration with
"neoliberal" economic reforms and "corruption" of
traditional political parties.
** Most held up Brazil's Lula as an "inspiration"
for the region, treated Ecuador's Lucio Gutierrez with caution and expressed
growing disdain for Venezuela's Hugo Chavez
Lula represents 'responsible left,' should
champion region's cause in Washington: Observers looked to Brazil's President-elect
Lula as a source of inspiration for Latin American leadership and a
"reason to believe in politics for those who seek change." Brazilian writers claimed he has the
potential to become a "political figure of historic significance,"
provided he heed independent Jornal da Tarde's call to accept "the
path of democratic capitalism" without appearing "submissive" to
the U.S. While many praised Lula's
promise to make Mercosur a priority, a pledge which won over the Argentine
press, others cautioned that this shouldn't be done at the expense of trade
negotiations with the U.S. Expectations
were high for his trip to Washington.
Writers speculated that Lula will be on a "public relations"
gambit to reassure the Bush administration.
"At the end of the day," as Rio's right of center O Globo
reflected, the success of Lula's government will "depend on what is gained
at the economic and commercial negotiating table with the U.S."
With Lucio Gutierrez, Ecuador's papers and
others 'hope for the best': Most agreed that
Ecuadorians had no choice but to vote for the former coup leader, "resting
on the rubble of traditional political parties," conceding he was the
"lesser evil." While they
doubted his ability to inspire political and fiscal stability, they were
optimistic that he would not fashion himself in the Chavez model. Quito's leading centrist El Comercio
worried about Gutierrez's "dilemma:"
Either he can try "to achieve political consensus in order to have
a stable government," or steer "away from negotiation and toward
Hugo Chavez vilified by Venezuela press,
neighbors keeping their distance: Observers
were mystified by Chavez's insistence on "clinging" to what was left
of his "deflated" power and "galloping loss of
prestige." Independent Venezuelan
dailies condemned his "obsession with imposing a totalitarian
project" and claimed he was "destroying institutions" and
"escalating" the country's polarization with the
"militarization" of Caracas.
The consensus was that Chavez either step down or call for
elections. While nearly all Latin
writers suggested Chavez was courting another coup attempt, a conservative
Spanish daily cautioned that as "grave" as the situation had become,
even the "fracturing of society" could not justify "illegal
This analysis is based on 61 reports from 14
countries over Nov. 22- Dec. 9.
Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent
of Bush's policy on Latin America"
Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for
leading Clarin, wrote (12/6):
"On the eve of the meeting between Lula and President Bush in
Washington, the White House policy on Latin America was harshly
questioned. Arturo Valenzuela, in charge
of Latin American affairs at the NSC during the Clinton administration, said
Bush does not have a strategy for the region and that the control of crises, in
countries like Venezuela and Argentina, has failed. According to Valenzuela, Bush hasn't even
managed to satisfy the expectations he generated when he initially prioritized
the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.... Valenzuela maintained that the
Bush administration was wrong in failing to criticize the temporary coup d'etat
against Chavez in Venezuela...and he added that the U.S. should have helped
Argentina get out of its convertibility system.... Michael Zarin, a State Department officer,
responded to Valenzuela's criticism by praising the change of U.S. policy on
Colombia, by of eliminating the artificial distinction made by the Clinton
administration between drug traffickers and guerrillas.... Valenzuela also said that the policy of
withholding U.S. visas from politicians accused of corruption, like Arnoldo
Aleman in Nicaragua, was not good diplomacy because it turned the U.S. into a
"Lula In Argentina"
Daily-of-record La Nacion held
(12/4): "Lula came to our country
in fulfillment of an election promise that Argentina would be his first foreign
destination if he were elected president.
This is why...his visit was much more than a protocol visit. His proposal to relaunch Mercosur was
particularly valuable.... It is
pertinent to remember that before the end of the convertibility system (in
Argentina) quite a few observers doubted the efficacy of Mercosur vis-à-vis
other forms of (trade) integration, which were more tightly linked to the
United States. This controversy has
taken new directions following the Argentine crisis and today Mercosur is
reinforced as an important objective for the peoples and governments of the
Southern Cone, regardless of the fact that one should, at the same time, bet on
the progressive building of the Americas' huge common market (FTAA).... It is highly commendable that the Brazilian
president-elect...be a statesman who supports the best democratic principles. At a crucial moment for Latin America's
political future, Lula's administration could have some healthy strategic value
for strengthening democracy in the region, beyond his ideological
The liberal, English-language Buenos Aires
Herald editorialized (12/4):
"Lula was right to take his aim of 'rebuilding' Mercosur beyond a
vague wish list to basing it on a concrete model (the EU), proposing common
institutions such as a parliament and court, a common currency and citizenship
and presenting a united front to the outside world, be it the IMF or the
FTAA. Yet, Lula's vision collides with
an adverse reality. 'Green money'
quasi-barter arrangements clash with the fact that trade between the two
regional giants...has never been lower since Mercosur became an incomplete
customs union at the end of 1994.... Lula's proposal of a common currency was
more favored by circumstances since the exchange rates of both countries
against the dollar have practically converged with remarkable stability in
recent weeks.... Unfortunately, monetary convergence necessarily comes at the
end of an integration process where Mercosur has not been doing its homework,
especially in recent years. Lula's visit
was largely free of ideology and nor should any ideological misgivings deny him
the benefit of the doubt before he takes office. Lula's election victory has
given fresh reason to believe in politics for those who seek change...and if he
can establish a responsible left as a viable option for Latin America, this
should surely be more welcome than populism or military rule to everybody who
is not a downright fascist."
"Lula Commits His Support For Argentina In Its crisis"
Ana Gerschenson, political columnist of leading Clarin
commented (12/3): "Lula was in
Buenos Aires for less than 24 hours.
However, this time was enough for him to promise Duhalde that when he
goes to Washington next week he will ask the IMF and President Bush, to
immediately help Argentina. In a matter
of hours, Lula proposed to rebuild Mercosur, create a Mercosur Congress by
popular vote, establish a new economic model in the region and negotiate, from
now on, 'always together' with the United States and EU.... Lula explained over and over again that
Mercosur should now follow the road of Europe."
"A New Opportunity For Integration"
Osvaldo Calello, columnist of business-financial
El Cronista, highlighted (12/3):
"Lula's decision to make strengthening Mercosur one of the central
goals of his foreign policy has a special meaning in the prospect of
relaunching the regional bloc on a new basis.
While Mercosur's recent years have been marked by ups and
downs...Argentina's abandonment of convertibility, with the subsequent
reduction in the gap between the Argentine peso and the real, the final
automobile regime deal, the agreement to put an end to trade sanctions and the
change of political scenario in the two countries, have all created the
possibility of placing the integration project in its exact strategic
prospect.... To emphasize all this, Lula
said yesterday that the next deal should be held between Mercosur and the
Andean Community, [as the] first step
toward a South American integration policy.
He also spoke about common Mercosur policies regarding the FTAA, the U.S.
and the EU, and placed the project of a common currency on the horizon 'in
order to reinforce defenses against international financial turbulence.'"
"A Piece Of Peace"
Michael Soltys, executive editor of liberal,
English-language Buenos Aires Herald, asserted (12/3): "This column will lead with peace
breaking out in Colombia. Or at least
the AUC paramilitary are proposing an indefinite ceasefire that goes beyond the
Christmas truces they have offered ever since 1997. Fuller details on their conditions will have
to await the commencement of talks, but basically the AUC is seeking a legal
whitewash that gives it political status and financing--it remains to be seen
what implications such legality would have for the release of jailed AUC
combatants, the pardon of those still in the field and the extradition of their
leaders Carlos Castaño and Salvatore Mancuso to the U.S., as requested by
Washington. The State Department is
indeed seen by some analysts as the prime mover behind this development, with the
[paramilitaries' ceasefire] being U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's
condition for the continuation of aid.
Other see the background as Colombia's new government under
anti-guerrilla hard-liner President Alvaro Uribe, viewed as sympathetic to the paramilitaries
(to the point of complicity in the opinion of some)--also army-paramilitary
links have long been alleged."
"Axis Of Evil, Good Or Indifferent?"
Michael Soltys, executive editor of liberal,
English-language Buenos Aires Herald wrote (11/26): "Even the most ardent supporters of the
market economy and the Washington Consensus should wish Ecuador's
president-elect Lucio Gutierrez all the best in making dollarization work for a
leftist agenda--in terms of creating constructive new options for the region,
as important as Brazilian president-elect Lula emulating the responsible left
now ruling much of Northern Europe.
Otherwise, applying 'axis of evil' logic seems even more misguided for
the region than for the world as a whole.
Fortunately, the United States shows little enough sign of falling into
this error, even ahead of the hardliner Cuban-born US Assistant Secretary of
State for the Western Hemisphere Otto Reich's exit.... Washington is steering well clear of
demonizing either Lula or Gutierrez along the lines of Cuba's Fidel Castro or
Venezuela's Hugo Chavez."
"Message for Argentina"
Left-of-center Pagina 12 carried an
opinion piece by Claudio Lozano, economist from Central de Trabajadores
Argentinos (Argentine Workers' Union), who judged (11/26): "The trend in Ecuador completes the
Latin American panorama featured by an increasing questioning of the new
liberalism of the '90s.... In practice,
the whole process (in Latin America) reflects the absolute failure of U.S. policy
in the region and seriously hinders the FTAA project promoted by George W.
Bush. Particularly in Ecuador, it
represents the possibility of starting to reverse the dollarization experienced
by its economy.... Both Gutierrez and
Lula will be valued for their ability to respond to their countries'
crisis.... Argentina will have to decide
whether it will accompany the changing trends of the region...or will continue
being an extension of U.S. policy in the hemisphere and the region."
"New Ecuadorean President"
Conservative La Prensa editorialized
(11/26): "Retired Colonel Lucio
Gutierrez will be the future Ecuadorian president.... He will take over in the same position of
Venezuelan Hugo Chavez after having attempted to perform a military coup against
democratic governments.... Gutierrez is
a military man who will have to tackle
economic issues, like unblocking stalled negotiations with the IMF in order to
sign a letter of intention, strengthen the dollarization process imposed two
years ago, which is considered weak by economic analysts, and face an
increasing demand from workers for economic and social improvements. His
closest aides attempt to distance Gutierrez from his leftist image.... Ecuador elected its president but it is
hopeless because a man won who will have to change even his personal ideology
in order to save the country, and this sparks distrust."
"Elections In Ecuador Revive Country's
Pablo Biffi, on special assignment in Quito for leading Clarin,
noted (11/25): "Despite being the
favorite candidate, the victory of former colonel Lucio Gutierrez in Ecuador
unveils the ballots' volatility and the pollsters' consequent difficulty to
assess social mood, the apathy of the Ecuadorian people vis-à-vis two candidates
that didn't trigger many passions or expectations, and marked, once again, the
historic and irreconcilable differences between the mountains, with Quito as
its prime example, and the coast, represented by the port of Guayaquil.... All in all, the country once again voted as
it has been doing all through its history: the coast picked a local candidate,
like Noboa; and the mountains chose a candidate supported by the indigenous
sectors.... These results confirm that
Ecuador, with apathy and by voting as they say for the 'lesser evil,' voted for
a change. Gutierrez appeared like a
candidate who understood change similarly to other Latin American leaders: if
the poor and excluded aren't included in the 'production and consumption'
system, growth won't be possible. His
speech is similar to Lula's in Brazil and Evo Morales' in Bolivia."
"What's Left After Otto Reich"?
Ana Baron, leading Clarin
Washington-based correspondent, remarked (11/24): "With Otto Reich's departure from the
State Department's Bureau of Hemispheric Affairs, U.S. policy towards the
region is once again under scrutiny....
The situation in Latin America since Reich took over in January has
worsened. Anti-U.S. feelings
skyrocketed; Washington's neo-liberal policies are being strongly questioned
and the region is going through a deep economic crisis, with Argentina as its
most visible example. Leftist and
populist options managed to step into the administrations of many countries in
Latin America. Lula's victory in Brazil
is a strong example of this. For
Washington, it was a very important sign of alert. Although he promised that the region would be
a U.S. foreign policy priority during his administration, the truth is that
Bush focused all his attention on the war against terrorism.... The truth is that all Latin America is now a
powder keg. Venezuela is a totally
divided country where nobody can forecast whether President Chavez will survive
or end up overthrown from power. In
Colombia, the fight between the guerrillas and the military is bloodier than
ever. In Peru, the image of the administration
falls in the eyes of the people who don't benefit from an improvement in their
economy. Otto Reich stepped down, but
leaves behind an enormous deficit in U.S. policy towards the region."
BRAZIL:"The New American Passion"
University professor Gilberto Paim stressed in
independent Jornal da Tarde (12/9):
"Lula represents the American dream. This phrase, voiced by U.S. Ambassador Donna
Hrinak, was heard and read when a significant portion of the Brazilian public
feared the possibility that Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva might be elected president.... It was the first indication that U.S.
official circles were giving high priority to the [Brazilian] fight against
corruption.... And as these circles
associate corruption with extremely unequal income distribution, the World Bank
did not wait for the new government's inauguration to promise surprising
financial support for Lula's social programs, particularly the fight against
hunger.... Lula has two options before
him: to consolidate the Brasilia-Caracas-Havana-FARC-MIR axis, with a foreign
policy geared toward the Third World, or to strengthen the
Brasilia-Washington-New York axis, to be able to carry out development programs
involving long-run investment and massive imports of technology at a level
capable of making Brazil a modern power.
If he accepts the path of democratic capitalism, he may become a
political figure of historic significance throughout Latin America. The markets' message is clear: the left wing
does not produce economic growth nor eliminate unequal income distribution."
"Two In One"
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo political
columnist Eliane Cantanhede noted (12/8):
"Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will talk with George W. Bush face to
face, reaffirm his commitment to honor contracts and to maintain fiscal
responsibility, and introduce into the international agenda something so far
considered mere rhetoric directed at certain audiences: poverty. Lula will tell Bush that globalization,
North-South relations and the American continent need a social shock. [Discussions about] Brazil's dramatic,
anguishing, shocking, humiliating and ingrained inequalities will move
temporarily from the south to the north of the continent, from Brazil to the
U.S. This is really something. Instead of sitting down to discuss only the
FTAA, economics and trade, the president of the world's most powerful nation
and the president-elect of South America's principal nation will be discussing
another type of 'business': people, persons."
"Lula & Bush, A Meeting with Sparks"
Rio's right-of-center O Globo (12/09) ran
a byline by correspondent Silio Boccanera (12/9): "Bush, America's most right wing
President will receive his most left wing counterpart in Brazil's
history.... It's difficult to foresee
amiable relations between the two governments with such a background and taking
into consideration Brazil's trade conflicts with the U.S. (FTAA, textiles,
steel, orange juice, cotton, sugar, to mention a few.) Relations were already not so good between
Bush and Fernando Henrique...and some already foresee they will worse with the
leftist who reached power in Brazil and with the prospect of the rightist's
re-election in Washington. The fear that
Brazil's example may be copied by its neighbor's may lead Bush to frown, take
off his cowboy hat and adjust the guns in his cartridge belt.... So far Washington's official rhetoric with
Brazil's elect-President is cordial....
But, as respected economic annalist Paul Krugman has already alerted...Bush's
rhetoric slides into fantasy. Krugman
wrote in the New York Times that President Bush even lies, says one
thing and does another makes up facts when necessary, has taken the government
to the extreme-right and has no intention to move towards the center. The left gives him the chills."
"Negotiating With The U.S"
Mario Garnero, President of the "Forum of
the Americas:" had a byline in respected center-left Jornal do Brasil
(12/8): "It's time to outline and
implement a new partnership [for the two
countries'] bilateral relations....
Brazil's trade strategy towards the American market should in fact be
re-considered. One cannot allow
bi-lateral trade to be paralyzed by difficulties in Brazilian exports of two
low-price products like steel and orange
juice.... Relations with the U.S. will
certainly not be the ideal one dreamt of by those in favor of free trade. But, Brazil cannot give itself the luxury of
failing to negotiate privileged access to the planet's largest market.
Bearing this in mind we can concentrate efforts on the construction of a
well-balanced FTAA that may of benefit to all.... We must strengthen our ability to diversify
and promote our exports to the U.S. [and to] attract U.S. investments. Those should be essential goals in the
"Lula And Foreign Policy"
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo political
columnist Eliane Cantanhede commented (12/6):
"Let's hope that Lula delivers a courageous but diplomatic speech
before George Bush and chooses well each diplomat who will represent Brazil
overseas.... To promise changes during
the campaign is easy, but to implement them when elected is another
thing--including those in the complex and sensitive area of foreign
The lead editorial in center-right O Estado
de Sao Paulo opined (12/5):
"President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's decision to make
Mercosul's deepening and enlargement a priority of his administration is
auspicious. Mercosul is above all a kind
of democratic support in the region....
Mercosul's second dimension is also a political one. Thanks to the existence of the bloc, its four
members have acted as if they were only one nation in various international
fora, where they have shown exemplary cohesion.... Last but not least, Mercosul has a vital
commercial dimension, evidenced by the expansion of regional and extra-regional
trade.... [However], the president-elect
can do little to deepen and enlarge Mercosul as long as the bloc's individual
members are busy extinguishing fires at home.
But this is a temporary situation.... The Mercosul crisis--which is
above all a sum of all its members' crises--has made clear that the antidote to
further turbulence is not only the strengthening of the national economies'
fundamentals, but also concerted planning for this great region's
"Lula, Mercosul And FTAA"
The lead editorial in center-right O Estado
de Sao Paulo (12/4) noted:
"Lula has apparently put aside the thesis that the FTAA would
represent Brazil's 'annexation' by the U.S. and assumed the pragmatic view
that, despite U.S. hegemony, the FTAA will be what the participating nations
make it. In another demonstration of
realism, Lula seems to have discarded the counterproductive proposal of an
exclusively bilateral understanding between Mercosul and Washington, the
so-called '4+1' formula, which would suit the powerful '1' more than any one of
the '4'. Nothing indicates that the Lula
administration will adopt a different line toward the FTAA than the one
currently being followed [by President Cardoso]--that is, intense multilateral
negotiations involving all the nations of the continent except Cuba, with
similar positions among Mercosul members."
Steel industrialist Benjamin Steinbruch
commented in liberal Folha de Sao Paulo (12/3): "One cannot have any illusions about the
immediate results of [Brazilian President-elect] Lula's visit to the White
House. The most we can expect is that
Bush, who is smarter than one may think, does not wish to introduce new
antipathy [into relations] with Latin America's largest nation. This is why Lula should be prepared to convey
to the U.S. president some information he surely has had no time to
consider. Bush probably does not know
how seriously his administration's protectionist measures affect a nation that
needs to increase its exports to achieve its ultimate goal of economic growth
and jobs creation.... Nonetheless, Lula
should use his time to give the U.S. president some information which, due to
his heavy responsibilities as the leader of the world's most powerful nation, he
has not had the time or obligation to learn."
Rio de Janeiro's respected center-left Jornal
do Brasil editorialized (11/30):
"Hugo Chavez clings to what is left...but the truth is that his
power is completely deflated.... The presidential system has no place for
quick constitutional moves. Chavez
either bows to a plebiscite or throws the country into the crossroads of a
coup. When one observes the Venezuelan
crisis more closely, the maturity of Brazilian democracy stands out.... May Lula's
election serve as an inspiration to Venezuela. Brazil had better understand there are no
islands of peace in a world victimized
"The Latin American About-Face"
Center-left Jornal do Brasil ran a byline
by political scientist Emir Sader (12/1):
"The current decade will be one of great transformation for
our continent. From President Lula's election in Brazil,
that of Lucio Gutierrez in Ecuador, the
uncertain elections in April of 2003 in
Argentina, as well as developments of the Venezuelan crisis, to the 2005
elections in Uruguay.... Such political
transformations are the result of an increasingly generalized feeling of a need
for another type of politics. A post-neo-liberal era is not yet on the Latin
America's horizon, although in 2003 a turnover may occur in Brazil, just as
with the unfolding of the crisis in Argentina.
If the latter ends up in dollarization of the continent--including
Brazil--it will be condemned to an even deeper
crisis. If, on the other hand, a
formation of a Brazil-Argentina axis is
concluded, it may truly represent the transition of the neo-liberal hegemony--with all its side-effects--and of a
new historical period in which Latin America will go from the most convoluted
region in economic and social terms, into that which will open new horizons for
those frustrated with the new century."
"Neither Anti-U.S., Nor Docile, Lula Will
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo economic
columnist Clovis Rossi commented (11/30):
"President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will make clear to
George Walker Bush that his Workers' Party administration wants relations that
do not require submission to the U.S., but that are free of the anti-American
an ideological bias reflected in much of the party's history.... In practical terms, to eliminate the
ideological bias means two complementary things: to admit that there is a conflict
of legitimate interests between the two nations, and that an attempt will be
made to introduce into the dialogue a positive agenda that emphasizes more
mutual interests than differences....
Both the USG and the GOB want to reduce or possibly eliminate piracy
that violates IPR principles. Brazil and
the U.S. are equally interested in fighting drug trafficking. It is clear, however, that the emphasis on
the positive agenda does not eliminate differences, especially in regards to
the FTAA negotiations. Lula is prepared
to tell Bush he favors a gradual integration in the Americas, but he will add
that his administration's number one priority is Mercosul and South
America.... Senator-elect Aloizio
Mercadante [who will accompany Lula to the U.S.] hopes that that the U.S.
'understands that the success of the Lula administration is the success of a
leftist democratic policy, which is best for the region.'"
"Without Common Sense"
Right-of-center O Globo editorialized
(11/27): "The election of Colonel
Lucio Gutierrez as President of Ecuador could reinforce the ideas of some
analysts in the U.S. press that there is a supposed growing 'axis of evil' in
Latin America.... The victory of a union
leader in Brazil, a military populist in Venezuela, and the victory in Ecuador
of someone with a similar profile to Chavez, and all getting along with Fidel
Castro, have generated strong pronouncements from conservative thinkers in
Washington. The President-elect, Luiz
Inacio Lula da Silva, and the PT leaders are separating themselves from the
possibility of any Latin American ideology against the United States. At the end of the day, the success of Lula's
government will depend on what it gains at the economic and commercial negotiating
table with the U.S. It's also true that
there is a reason for the vote for the left in South America. And the explanation most reasonable is the
frustration with the type of economic policy that most of the people haven't
gained from in the last few years, even though it's indisputable there have
been modern advances in the economy, privatization and the opening up to
international competition. But calling
this an 'axis of evil' is pretty far-fetched."
"The Left Wing In The Americas"
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo editorialized
(11/30): "The parallel between
Ecuador's recently elected president, Lucio Gutierrez, and Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez is inescapable. Both are
military men who hold vague leftist ideas and participated in coup attempts
before being elected. One can also see
traces of megalomania in both leaders....
[However,] Gutierrez's curious similarities with Chavez are not
sufficient to predict in his administration the same difficulties and problems
affecting Chavez. To a certain extent,
Gutierrez's election also bears similarities to that of [Brazilian
President-elect] Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva....
Immense frustration resulting from ultraliberal reforms played an
important part in each election.... It
is reasonable to suppose that other leftist candidates will be voted into
office in Latin America's next elections.
Despite the serious economic crisis affecting the region, its
democracies are working."
Liberal Folha de Sao Paulo's political columnist Eliane
Cantanhede commented (11/24): "Considering
the course of relations between Lula's Brazil and Bush's U.S., it suits the
needs of the new Brazilian administration to maintain good communications with
the U.S.--while warning that it will 'be tough' [in trade negotiations]. It also suits the aims of the USG and U.S.
companies to have faith in Lula and the Workers' Party, albeit with
caution.... Lula has many domestic
priorities, but he also has an overarching foreign priority: to revive
confidence in Brazil and attract new investment.... International anxiety about Brazil is
extremely high, especially in Latin America.
Lula could end up being a fiasco, revisiting the same problems between
intentions and practice as [Venezuela's Hugo] Chavez, albeit less
traumatically. Or, in a diametrically
opposed scenario, Lula could provide the answer to the question the whole world
is looking at: how to advance from globalization, neoliberalism and
privatization toward a model that addresses both social concerns and fiscal
balance. If he succeeds in such an
historic feat, Lula will become an international leader."
"Brazil-U.S. Relations According To The
Liberal Folha da Sao Paulo's economic and
political columnist Luis Nassif observed (11/22): "Brazil-U.S. relations depend on a
better understanding of what the Bush Doctrine represents for U.S.
diplomacy.... Washington's hardcore
power establishment (the NSC, the Pentagon and the White House) sees the world
from a geopolitical, not ideological, standpoint.... From this perspective, South America has two
major problems: Colombia and Venezuela....
In regards to Brazil, its strategic goal is not having a tough,
aggressive adversary in international fora--something that has been facilitated
by Brazil's vulnerability in the economic-financial area.... If Lula is capable of doing a good public
relations job in Washington, he will meet with increased approval. One of his strongest attractions, in terms of
U.S. political culture, is his humble, working-class background. It differentiates him utterly from the
typical revolutionary intellectual, whom Americans detest."
"U.S. Has No Clear Logic Toward Latin America"
In its prime-time newscast, conservative Catholic University
Television (12/04) featured international commentator Karin Ebensperger, who
stated (12/4): "Chile has been
negotiating a free trade agreement with the U.S. for the past 12 years. It is logical that Washington defends its
interests and that Chile does not sign until the conditions are favorable and
represent our interests. Whether this
agreement is signed or not, once more we face the lack of a coherent U.S. Latin
America policy.... Defying all logic,
the U.S. has no clear policy toward Latin America and never has. Washington only reacts when something
concerns them, and then it reacts badly.
With the Alliance for Progress to stop the advance of communism,
changing governments through the CIA, petro dollars, their war against drugs in
Colombia--everything has been done wrong.
More than a decade ago, Washington began with the FTAA and the FTA, and
it still has not happened.... The signal
Washington is sending to Latin America by delaying Chile--although the U.S. has
stated that Chile is an example to the region--is very negative. Let us hope the U.S. will understand that it
is in their own benefit to sign agreements within the region and that it
practices a little more of its own preaching about free trade being beneficial
Government-owned, editorially independend La
Nacion held (12/3): "It's very
important for Brazil to do well, particularly in the social and economic
arena. First, because this will benefit
Brazilians themselves and second, because it will exert a positive influence in
COLOMBIA: "Ecuador: A Shift In Direction"
The lead editorial in top national El Tiempo noted
(11//26): "The presidential
election of Colonel Lucio Gutierrez in Ecuador...will mark a shift of course in
the neighboring country's policies on almost all issues, from economics to
security. Equally or even more it means
a new vision of Ecuador's relationship with its neighbors, especially Colombia.... Initial statements by the Ecuadorian
leader-elect show a friendly and understanding attitude towards Colombia; they
also raise a few reservations. His
announcement on the possibility of Ecuador's participation in a peace process
Inauspicious also is the lack of clarity of his statements on the
proposed visa requirement for Colombians....
The 'Lucio' phenomenon is similar to other recent political experiences
in Latin America, as in Peru and Venezuela, where a non-party candidate who
reaches people's enthusiasm in the midst of a crisis defeats the traditional
political parties. It's too soon to know
if it will evolve and have an epilogue of the same kind. All we can say is that it offers Colombia a
promising and unpredictable horizon."
The lead editorial in Cali-based El Pais
observed (11/25): "Despite the
clear results, the presidential election of Ex-Colonel Lucio Gutierrez raises
more questions than answers in both Ecuador, and neighboring nations, and in
Latin America as a whole.... Ecuadorian
voters had few options.... Now pending
are the consequences of this election."
"Lessons Of The Popular Shifts In
An op-ed by a former Minister of Treasury
(1976-1977) in top national El Tiempo stated (11/26): "Resting on the rubble of traditional
political parties, the corruption boom, and winds of economic crisis, the coup
Colonel Lucio Gutierrez cleanly defeated the unscrupulous and ambitious
Plutocrat Alvaro Noboa in the neighboring and friendly Republic of Ecuador.... The phenomenon in Ecuador, as a result of its
origin and circumstances--a shift to a populist-leftist candidate--is similar
to the one in Venezuela with a Colonel, where corruption crumbled traditional
political parties.... (The phenomenon)
also is similar to Brazil's with President-elect Luis Inacio 'Lula' Da
Silva.... Both events stimulate
reflection on how wrong it is to abolish political parties in a democracy,
serving as channels and supporters."
Column Francisco Rosales Ramos wrote in center-left, influential Hoy
(12/2): "The U.S. President wants to talk about drug trafficking, the
fight against terrorism and trade with the president-elect, Colonel Gutierrez.
That's fine; those are Washington's interests.
Now it is the president-elect's turn to add his own priorities to that
agenda. They will include, certainly,
the IMF agreement, the policies of the World Bank, external debt, Plan
Colombia, and U.S. protectionism.... It
is a good opportunity first of all for the two to get acquainted, which will
facilitate future communication, and for Gutierrez to clearly spell out
Ecuadorian interests in its relations with the U.S. The U.S. is our major trade partner, our
biggest investor, a superpower and the leader of the hemisphere.... President-elect Gutierrez's visit to
Washington will be a test for him and his foreign affairs team in this complex
field, after the faux pas with Colombia."
"Dignity And Sovereignty"
An opinion column by Rodrigo Santillan in left,
sensationalist La Hora (12/2) noted: "No U.S. president has failed
to impose his own geopolitical ideas in an effort to increase U.S. power and
influence, naturally, against the dignity and sovereignty of the aggrieved
peoples. Thus, we have the Monroe,
Kennedy, Nixon, and now Bush doctrines aimed at making the U.S. master of the
entire world.... With the Bush II
doctrine, international law is shattered and nations are subjected to
unacceptable humiliation--in exchange for a few miserable dollars they lose
their national dignity and sovereignty.
And what is even worse: there
will be governments that will become submissive and will kneel down in before
the emperor.... We refuse to even
imagine that President-elect Lucio Gutierrez would accept proposals from Bush
who has been kind enough to invite him to the White House. In defense of the honor, dignity and
sovereignty of this poor country looted by corrupt officials and divided by the
moral misery of politicians, Gutierrez will have to speak out firmly and loudly
to Bush about the Manta Base; Plan Colombia and its ominous consequences; about
drug trafficking that would not exist if it weren't for the six million U.S.
consumers; about FTAA which is nothing more than neo-colonization.... Ecuador has to rescue its dignity,
independence and sovereignty, and the president-elect has an historic
"Relations With The U.S."
Leading centrist El Comercio
editorialized (11/29): "U.S.
diplomacy is not subtle as French diplomacy has been historically and as is the
current diplomacy of the Vatican. It is
simple, convinced of its righteousness and willing to use force in an
exceptional manner; in addition, because of its religious background and moral arrogance
it tends to interpret in its own way that biblical statement--with us or
against us.... Against this backdrop,
the new Ecuadorian government needs to repair the inexplicable deterioration of
relations with the U.S.... To that
effect, (Gutierrez) needs the professional assistance of experienced people,
such as those we saw during the most difficult times of our territorial
An "Analysis" column in center-left
influential Hoy (11/28) asserted:
"We have to uncover the real meaning of U.S. President Bush's
invitation to the Ecuadorian President-elect, Lucio Gutierrez, to Washington
for a face-to-face meeting to address issues such as the fight against drugs
and bilateral trade.... First, we should
mention that a similar invitation was never extended to President Gustavo
Noboa, despite 'suggestions' made by officials from our country, added to which
was the long period during which the U.S. Embassy in Quito was not headed by
someone with the rank of Ambassador. It
seems that the State Department did not take seriously the origin of Noboa's
Government that took office on January 22, 2000 in one of the rooms of the
Ministry of Defense, with the support of the military top brass.... What does that mean? U.S. diplomacy is undergoing important
changes, among which is a greater role in social and academic activities, as
well as economic and political ones, without getting to the point of meddling
in the internal affairs of the country....
This U.S. 'siege' of Lucio Gutierrez is probably aimed at thwarting another
Hugo Chavez-like regime. The cooperation
being offered by the U.S is not impartial; nothing is impartial in
international politics.... Gutierrez is
a fighter against corruption and that 'connects' him with U.S. diplomacy, but
will it connect him with Bush's other arguments?"
"Different Levels Of Agreement"
An editorial in leading centrist El Comercio
observed (11/27): "The
president-elect won't have time to cater to jealousies and smooth rough
spots. On the contrary, from his first
day in office he will need a balanced cabinet that will become the foundation
of his new administration. The president
is going to have a full agenda and little time to be the arbiter of conflicts
among those who do not understand the advantages of teamwork.... Under these circumstances, we cannot overlook
the existence of a determined opposition that will seek openings for power and
successful collaboration with the executive branch. The dilemma [for Gutierrez] is dramatic: either he tries to achieve political consensus
in order to have a stable government, or he steers away from negotiation and
toward political reform. A third element
is a historical challenge: how to
initiate a dialogue with the U.S. and Colombia, one that promotes good
relations while at the same time respecting Ecuador's decision not to get
involved in the conflict in the north?"
"Gutierrez Must Move Quickly"
Leading centrist El Comercio offered this analysis
(11/26): "Lucio Gutierrez's mandate
is simple: increase productivity to
improve fiscal stability, increase foreign investment, and save what is now
being lost to corruption to allow for more spending on social programs. Greater expenditures for education and
health, and housing programs that generate jobs--nobody disagrees.... However, Gutierrez will be faced on one side
with an administration dominated by the interests of political parties. Political strategy has required splitting up
major government functions, which, in effect, has caused a paralysis that has
produced few reforms.... Gutierrez sent
a clear message once he had won: he
expects a response to his call for reconciliation, but he is not going to wait
for it. The Colonel's nature makes it
difficult to imagine him negotiating a status quo to remain in power until the
end of his time in office. Nor can we
imagine him making decisions by committee either, as Pachakutik
proposes.... Gutierrez's mandate is
simple, but his success is based on a new balance of forces which, for now,
"Message To The President Elect"
Leading centrist El Comercio editorialized (11/25): "The time remaining until the
inauguration is very short. During this
time he (Gutierrez) will have to disclose the names of those individuals chosen
to accompany him and inform them of the complex agenda they will
inherit.... He will have to pay special
attention to the international field as well as to those aspects of internal
governability.... To do so, an immediate
dialogue with the president of Colombia and the principal officials of the
United States is indispensable....
Internally, with the moral guarantee from the popular mandate, he will
have to find areas of agreement with the leaders in the National Congress.... Finally, he will have to appoint efficient
and honest individuals to head the main institutions of the state in order to
enhance the respectability of the Republic."
"The Challenges Of The New President"
Center-left, influential Hoy opined (11/25): "The new president is charged with the
immediate task of erasing initial distrust.
Economic agents will be eager to know the names of his collaborators, as
a signal of the direction the president will take in his tenure. The economic circumstances do not allow for
delays. In the horizon of immediate
expectations there is an accord pending with the IMF, which is unavoidable not
only to achieve fiscal balance in 2003, but also as a guarantee for foreign
investment.... The country needs to
strengthen stability, foster productive reactivation, adopt measures needed to
sustain dollarization, in particular strict fiscal discipline--all these are
possible only through a basic national accord."
An editorial in Guayaquil's (and Ecuador's)
leading center-right El Universo declared (11/25): "Yesterday we elected a new
president...and nobody doubts he will have the responsibility for a country
besieged by difficulties. We don't
intend to advance concepts. We want to
highlight the fragility of institutions that has affected national efforts to
grow, and which ought to be corrected with national accords among those who
respond to the demands of change, peace and improvement in a country that in
each democratic election proclaims its right to hope."
GUATEMALA: "Venezuela On The Verge Of
Influential morning El Periodico stated
(12/9): "The national strike...in
Venezuela is leading the country to chaos and anarchy. Chavez refuses to leave power. His
administration has been erratic and has engulfed Venezuela in a profound
economic, social, and political crisis....
Why is Chavez afraid of a referendum to revoke the very constitution
that he advocated? Might it be he is
afraid to face the overwhelming reality of public disapproval? In any case...Chavez must leave."
PANAMA: "Colombia: Paramilitaries
Conservative El Panama America commented
(12/5): "Before the recent
Colombian election, those against Alvaro Uribe ran words of alleged links
between him and the 'Colombian United Autodefenses (AUC),' popularly known as
paramilitaries. Although the political
links were refuted by Uribe...the recent voluntary demobilization of irregular
forces has reinitiated the comments....
Powell's recent visit to Colombia has favored the subject...and
according to El Tiempo de Bogota the Colombian government is looking for
a dialogue.... U.S. mediation,
highlighted by the presence of General Powell, denotes that Colombia has
entered a decisive stage of relations with extremist forces, under the impulse
of a leader ready for peace, or by force to rescue democracy."
"Challenges For The Future President"
Straightforward flagship El Comercio
editorialized (11/26): "Lucio
Gutierrez...is preparing to take office....
As Ecuador's new president he faces many challenges.... He needs to restore negotiations with
[international] financial institutions, implement a politically unpopular plan
of fiscal austerity and [measures] to overcome poverty affecting 60% of the
population.... It is...positive that
Gutierrez has called political leaders, businessmen, bankers and the civil
society to participate in...fighting the economic crisis.... But the elected president must also pay
attention to international relations and promote dialogue with Colombia and the
U.S...to fight drug trafficking.... Peru expects that...Ecuador...will succeed
in carrying out such difficult endeavors...and that its new president boosts
implementation of the peace accords...signed between Peru and Ecuador."
"Ecuador Moves To The Left"
Influential political analyst Mirko Lauer wrote
in center-left La Republica (11/26):
"The...victory of Lucio Gutierrez in Ecuador is one more sign that
Latin America is fed up with the unpopular right wing stance...which, in the
disguise of modernization, has impoverished the region during the 90s. The various left wing tendencies...have
arrived and will remain as long as the [U.S.] empire allows them."
"The Strike Isn't Pretty"
Oil expert Alberto Quiros wrote in liberal
daily-of-record El Nacional (12/8):
"The temptation to believe that this government makes mistakes
[such as the National Guard's attacking the demonstrators in Chuao on Dec. 4]
because it is totally incompetent and even politically autistic, would be an
error that would cost the opposition greatly.
Let's consider a different interpretation. The premise is that Chavez doesn't want a
consultative referendum, or early elections, or a recall referendum. What to do, then, faced with an opposition
bigger every day? For the government,
there is no negotiation possible, since the final objective would always be
Chavez's departure.... That's why it
decided to militarize Caracas and takeover the Metropolitan Police.... All of this is meant to interrupt the
"Don't Mess With Petroleum"
Leading national liberal daily-of-record El
Nacional editorialized (12/6):
"Chavez should forget once and for all his obsession with imposing
his totalitarian project. He should make
an open and frank commitment to renouncing his plans to name a Taliban
'parallel junta' as the new directors of [state oil company] PDVSA. The
president's national broadcast yesterday showed once more how far the President
is from understanding what's happening in the country. The PDVSA crisis is part of a larger national
crisis. In times like these we live in,
the president of any country would reflect and think about what to say to the
nation, calling the major protagonists to the presidential palace to
dialogue. Chavez doesn't do this because
he doesn't know how; he is unable because of his own personality and because of
the project he wants to impose on Venezuelans."
"The Hour Of The Charter Has Come"
Centrist El Globo published an op-ed by
Eddo Polese stating (12/6): "The events of recent days show that the
country can no longer continue to be a victim of a regime that tries to ignore
what is essential for the people--to live in freedom to be able to
prosper. If there was anyone, in or out
of Venezuela, who still thought that the Chavez regime was democratic, they can
no longer think so after the brutal action of December 3 to disperse a peaceful
demonstration and the merciless aggression against journalists and
cameramen.... By trying to impose, under
the mantle of democarcy, a project that is contrary to democracy's principles,
the government has created a situation completely contrary to the ends and
purposes of a democratic rule of law....
We have been fortunate that the OAS Secretary General has reserved such
particular attention to the country and even offered to serve as
facilitator. Nonetheless, we believe
that the circumstances are such now that the Secretary General is obligated,
without further delay, to take a report to the Permanent Council, because what
is at stake is preserving and strengthening democratic institutionality."
An op-ed by Rafael Bayed in centrist El Globo
judged (12/6): "In the United
States there is a growing awareness in government circles about the possiblity
of an absolutist government along Castro-like lines that will endanger its oil
supply, not just to the U.S. but to all of South America. For U.S. analysts, Chavez could become a
danger for the continent's socio-economic stability. The Venezuelan people have the chance to gain
for the support of their actions the invocation at some time of the OAS
Democracy Charter, leading to an exit from this opprobrious regime currently
managing the destiny of the republic."
"The Solution Is The Consultative
Conservative sensationalist 2001
editorialized (12/6): "Faced with
the president's call for confrontation among Venezuelans, it is clear that the
solution to the crisis is electoral, which means we should move toward the
consultative referendum fixed by the National Electoral Council for February
2. Yesterday, from the earliest hours,
the violent pro-Chavez circles, knowing that the opposition planned to march
from PDVSA's headquarters in Chuao to the PDVSA office in La Campina, gathered
there in an open provocation to prevent the march, which was wisely called off
by mayor Leopoldo Lopez. We know the fears
of President Chavez and the government of an election, but it is the civic,
constitutional and democratic alternative....
The objectives achieved by the national civic strike, with its massive
demonstrations in the street, have been overwhelming. Only the government blindly refuses to recognize
this, because it refuses to understand that this people wants to continue
living in democracy and not be degraded to a Cuba-like state. The consultative referendum is the
"Hugo Vs. 'The Thing."
Usually critical of the U.S. Tal Cual
editorialized (12/4): "The weight
of the Constitution and the laws are flattening the government. It must understand that the time has come to
advance political solutions unless it wishes to begin governing without regard
to the Constitution.… Continuing to block the electoral solution will
inexorably lead to governing by repressive means for there exists a state of
civilian rebellion that can be put down only by force.”
"Neither Legitimacy Nor Dignity"
An editorial in leading, liberal daily-of-record
El Nacional held (12/4):
"With its actions the government has distanced itself even more from its duties
and obligations of governing.... It has
again assumed the role of being a faction divorced from the
nation...demonstrating its inability to understand and interpret the
aspirations of a peaceful people."
"A Strike For A Democratic Solution"
Conservative, sensationalist, popular 2001
editorialized (12/1): "Venezuela
can tolerate no longer the uncertainty to which this government has subjected
us: Production is virtually paralyzed, unemployment is at never before seen
levels, thousands of businesses have closed and the economy has hit rock bottom
despite having historic levels of petroleum income. Add to this the unhidden efforts to destroy
[state oil company] PDVSA and the gigantic debt we have been submerged in. Faced with the government effort to close off
peaceful solutions [by blocking the consultative referendum], and even though
the National Electoral Council's president has announced that the referendum
February 2 will proceed, we Venezuelans have to join in the civic strike. We are all making an enormous sacrifice...but
we do it because we love Venezuela, and we aspire to solutions that help all of
us, without exceptions, in the name of future generations."
Leading liberal daily-of-record El Nacional
stated in its editorial (11/27):
"The takeover of the Metropolitan Police has backfired on President
Chavez's government and become a factor of political perturbance. The international press considers the
takeover as an obvious sign of Chavez's autocratic objectives. Chavez was warned of the serious consequences
that this violation of municipal autonomy would have. But he opted to escalate the type of 'state
of exception' we are already living under with the militarization of
Caracas.... Chavez used all the public
powers that it controls to pave the way for the nighttime takeover of the
Metropolitan Police, making all of them accomplices in this constitutional
violation.... The government is
destroying institutions without any consideration at all.... There is still hope for the Supreme Court to
act.... Venezuelans watched in amazement
as Chavez announced what the Supreme Court decision would be, affirming that
the court 'would reject Caracas Mayor Alfredo Peña's request for an
injunction'.... To top things off,
Chavez affirmed that the takeover was irreversible. All this demonstrates that the president and
other high officials of the regime are interfering with justice.... The takeover of the Metro Police is rejected
by 75% of the population. Crime plagues
the city. God willing, the Supreme Court
will rule quickly and return the police to the control of the mayor, thus
re-establishing the mayoralty's autonomy.
The defense of the rule of law has no alternative."
"Latin America's Left Shift"
Government-run BBC TV noted (11/25): "The victory of ex-colonel Lucio
Gutierrez in Ecuador's presidential run-off appears to be part of a Latin
American trend to shift to the left. A
former coup leader, Mr. Gutierrez, seems to have a great deal in common with
Venezuela's controversial left-wing president, Hugo Chavez, and his victory
follows the election of the Workers Party candidate, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva,
in Brazil.... On face value, Ecuador's
new president-elect, Mr. Gutierrez, seems much more in the Hugo Chavez
mold. He is an outsider and former coup
leader who campaigned in military uniform.
The election in Ecuador was far more polarized than in Brazil. But at the same time, the president-elect has
toned down his rhetoric in recent weeks, promising to govern within
International Monetary Fund guidelines and to attract foreign investment."
Left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau judged
(11/26): “The poor and the Indians have
high hopes for the Gutierrez presidency.
He made sure to have the backing of the United States. The international financial institutions also
have nothing against him.... It remains
unclear how all of this can be reconciled with Gutierrez’s rather vague
campaign platform. Ecuador has become
economically dependent since giving up its own currency for the U.S.
dollar. While inflation has gone down,
the gap between rich and poor remains large.
The new president will likely have to disappoint voter
expectations. Meanwhile, the United
States is likely to give him a free rein.
He is expected to play an important role in the fight against drug
trafficking, also part of his campaign platform. But nobody can tell what will happen if he
demands a higher share of the profits from oil exports.”
"Getting Elected Instead Of Staging A
Ingo Malcher observed in leftist Die Tageszeitung of Berlin
(11/26): “The traditional political
camps in Venezuela and Ecuador have lost their support because they fought
democratic participation for years and embraced an economic model that left the
majority in poverty.... Both Gutierrez
and Chavez lack clear ideas for political reform.... Nevertheless, the election of left-wing
candidate Lula in Brazil has created a new set of conditions for Latin
America’s economic integration. Over the
past decade, political conditions for the continent’s growing together have
never been better. Such a development
might create an alternative to the reigning economic model, especially the
U.S.-backed plan for a free trade zone from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego.... One must doubt whether Chavez and Gutierrez
will be able to improve the situation of the poor with their political mix of
military honor, nationalism, and promises of justice. Their opponents, however, should not judge
too quickly. The old parties, with their
ineffective structures, failed to bring about change for decades.”
RUSSIA: "Responsible Politician"
Emil Dabagian of the Latin American Institute of
the Russian Academy of Sciences observed in reformist Vremya MN
(11/27): "Gutierrez has in many
respects gone the path of his idol (Venezuela's Hugo Chavez). Done that in less than three years. But the likeness is only superficial. Gutierrez's program does not fit the
stereotype. It is quite moderate and
balanced, and the one who stands behind it seems like a responsible
"Powell's Visit To Colombia"
Independent La Libre Belgique concluded
(12/5): "But the United States is
not willing to make any concession.
Yesterday, Colin Powell met with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe to
defend his tough approach. In a
continent which, slowly but surely, is swinging to the left, it is out of the
question to let Colombia do the same."
"Powell Meets Colombian President"
The liberal Irish Times' foreign
correspondent Deaglán de Bréadún observed from Bogota (12/5): "Mr. Powell told reporters he was
seeking ways to give further assistance to the Colombian government's campaign
against 'narco-traffickers and narco-terrorists'. But he was also expected to stress the
importance of preventing human rights abuses by the Colombian security
forces.... The United States has
provided well over $1 billion in aid to Colombia since 2000, mostly in military
goods.... Last September, the State
Department drew protests from U.S. rights groups after certifying that
Colombia's armed forces had met human rights standards imposed by Congress in
three areas. The action cleared the way
for the release of $41 million in military aid.... The Secretary of State said
there had been a significant expansion in coca eradication efforts in Colombia
this year but it had not reached the point where eradication was outstripping
SPAIN: "Election In Venezuela"
Conservative ABC stated (12/3):
"However, Chávez's galloping loss of prestige...degradation of
public life and fracturing of society should not give cause for illegal
solutions. Therefore, neither coups
d'état nor street riots instigated from certain circles are valid, which could
become a grave civil confrontation....
The opposition should be a little bit patient and Chávez should
understand that bringing the election forward is fully justified."
"There Is No Exit For Chavez"
Independent El Mundo commented
(12/5): "Venezuela is heading for
civil confrontation with grave consequences.
Everybody has noticed that the U.S. has abandoned the temptation to
support the idea of a military coup. The
April eleventh attempt was solved without practical results but without blood
too. There is no margin for new
experiments.... Diplomatic pressure and
street demonstrations seem to be the key in order to have Chavez abandon
power. Economic data and not the
opposition is what really is going to defeat Chavez."