Four Caballeros


Brazil's Luiz In?cio Lula da Silva, Cuba's Fidel Castro, and Venezuela's Hugo Ch?vez get together Space Cowboys-style for the inauguration of Lucio Gutierrez as president of Ecuador. Gutierrez, in grand Latin style, is a colonel who took part in a coup attempt a while back, and his emergence as Latin America's latest left-wing leader has prompted Rep. Henry Hyde to accuse the group of forming a Latin "axis of evil." (Reports that Hyde is planning to join Jerry Nadler and Zoe Lofgren in an axis of fat could not be confirmed by press time.) Since only Castro and Ch?vez have so far proven themselves to be bad guys, the Bush administration seems to be taking a wiser approach in encouraging Lula's efforts to calm things down in Venezuela and keeping the inflammatory talk to a minimum. It's unsurprising and partially understandable that people in South and Central America should blame the region's economic mismanagement on "globablization" and the United States generally. Rather than take a kneejerk stance against the new populist champions, which can only push them further left, the U.S. ought to encourage moderation, and be around for a friendly "toldja so" when their economic reforms lead to further disaster. [Pointless registration required for link]