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Monday, November 18, 2019


Opposite poles attract


Chavez’s still standing up to Bush and that’s good news
MRIDU SINGH | Issue Dated: October 8, 2006
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Opposite poles attract F irst things first. Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, is democratically elected, a billionaire, a Marxist, and one of the few reasonably balanced world leaders opposed to George W. Bush who attracts acclaim unlike say, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. Busy at the best of times, Chavez recently did a few things. He first called Bush a devil in an address to the United Nations General Assembly, and then said Bush would get him killed for that. Finally, he advocated Noam Chomsky’s criticism of America’s policies. Amazingly, there was a spurt in sales of Chomsky’s work after the Chavez recco.

All this doesn’t make Chavez a darling. He has his share of flaws, the principal being shrill grandstanding. But in a world that Bush sees as increasingly hostile to him, Chavez is an important figure. He has the guts to consistently take the US President on and succeed. Quite clearly, Chavez and Venezuela have replaced Fidel Castro and Cuba as the loudest voices against American policies – even mainstream media in the US thinks he is great copy. But Chavez may want to pause and see that he seriously runs the risk of being labelled a bore. The free world finds it difficult to digest the tirade of hard line fundamentalists like Ahmadinejad. Chavez has more goodwill. When a military junta (allegedly backed by the CIA) tried to overthrow Chavez a few years ago, thousands of protestors forced the Venezuelan army to return power to Chavez. There’s another angle to Chavez. He is quite savvy, unlike Castro who relied on ideological purity alone. Chavez, who controls some of the world’s biggest energy resources, has been signing a spate of deals with other nations, most interesting being China and Iran.

This gives him money apart from muscle. The man is a character. He can talk non-stop for hours on his live television shows (he owns the biggest television network in Venezuela) and has chatted with football legend Diego Maradona on the show to the delight of viewers. With a bit of temperance, Chavez can make it worse for Bush.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017