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The Washington Post editorializes that Hugo Chavez is becoming as unpopular with South Americans as George Bush used to be.

Now at last, Mr. Chavez is the object of a growing backlash from leaders around Latin America—from Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Mexico and Nicaragua, among other countries. In part, the politicians are responding to foolish overreaching by Mr. Chavez, who has been busy trying to turn Bolivia into a satellite state while suggesting he has similar plans for much of the rest of the continent. Latin Americans don't like imperialism, whether it comes from Washington or Caracas. And even leftist leaders, like those who rule in Brazil and elsewhere in South America, find it hard to imagine themselves prospering in a Venezuela-led economic bloc that includes Cuba but shuns the United States.

Of course, Reason readers already knew this.

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  1. yeah, but the people love him.

    Lula et al would be doing the same thing if they had a couple tens-a-billion in oil money to throw around…

  2. Brazil is mainly ticked off because Bolivia’s Chavez inspired proposal to nationalize its oil and gas fields will impact several Brazilian companies after they had gotten assurances that it would not happen.
    And Lula’s attempt to get western nations to open up their agro industries to developing nations and cut subsidies has been hijacked by Chavez’s more extreme proposals and his crusade to defeat the FTAA.

  3. Chavez gave an really obnoxious speech at the OPEC meeting. He said that, formerly, Venezuela’s oil profits were going into the hands of the country’s oligarchs, rather than its people. Then he applauded OPEC for “standing up.” Who do you think those men in expensive suits applauding you were, Hugo? The wretched of the earth?

    Someday he’s going to lose an election, and he will be completely shocked when it happens.

  4. Someday he’s going to lose an election

    Caudillos don’t lose elections very often.

  5. I sincerely hope we ignore this asshole and let him implode his country on his own. Given that it sits atop a large quantity of oil, we won’t.

  6. “Caudillos don’t lose elections very often.”

    Nor, the other Mark, do they repeatedly win them in fair competitions certified by international observers.

    You might actually have to go beyond crude stereotypes in this case.

  7. Tom Greaves,
    I pretty much second your motion.

    Speaking of assholes running countries, did any US official ever say boo about Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe?
    I don’t think so.

  8. Sure they do, joe. South American strongmen tend to be quite popular, if I remember my history correctly. Anyway, my point was that his type tends to go down in a coup instead of an election.

    You might actually have to go beyond crude stereotypes in this case.

    No. My way is easier.

  9. How unpopular is Chavez in Mexico? Back in April the National Action Party (PAN) associated him with then presidential frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took a tumble shortly thereafter (of course Lopez Obrador doesn’t believe he’s losing and keeps yapping about the “complot” against him as supposed proof.)

  10. Nor, the other Mark, do they repeatedly win them in fair competitions certified by international observers.

    Actually, joe, I am unable to find even a single time where Chavez won an election “certified by international observers,” let alone repeatedly.

    He did, however, maintain power after a special recall referendum which was overseen by the OAS and noted battler of rabbits Jimmy Carter. I know that’s what you meant, but that’s a far cry from what you originally said.

  11. And no, the Carter Center alone in 1998 certifying the results of the election doesn’t count.

  12. Nor, the other Mark, do they repeatedly win them in fair competitions certified by international observers.

    Actually, joe, I am unable to find even a single time where Chavez won an election “certified by international observers,” let alone repeatedly.

    He did, however, maintain power after a special recall referendum which was overseen by the OAS and noted battler of rabbits Jimmy Carter. I know that’s what you meant, but that’s a far cry from what you originally said.

  13. joe:

    Ignore my previous two posts, except for the link to the bunny incident. I can’t just disregard out of hand the Carter Center, whether I’d like to or not, and they did oversee both the 1998 and 2000 elections. I suppose there is enough support for them as legitimate international observers to qualify them, although I’d consider the OAS or UN to be more legitimate.

    And why the hell did my first post go up twice? Now I’m doubly wrong!

  14. [i]”How unpopular is Chavez in Mexico? Back in April the National Action Party (PAN) associated him with then presidential frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who took a tumble shortly thereafter (of course Lopez Obrador doesn’t believe he’s losing and keeps yapping about the “complot” against him as supposed proof.)”[/i]

    Obrador has reason to be paranoid based on multiple attempts to keep him off the ballot for very dodgy reasons. He is also slipping in the polls for reasons unrelated to Chavez — he hasn’t embraced modern campaign techniques so is getting worked by negative campaign ads on the radio and tv that he fails to respond to at a national level. The polls also undercount a lot of his poor supporters — the race is at this point too close to call though Tom Tancretin and Dobbs, et al are doing their best to ensure Obrador is elected so they have more to bitch about for the next six years.

    After 70 plus years of PRI rule it would be a healthy development in Mexican society if the party of the president changes again to a third party rather than the development of another PAN inspired monopoly for the next 70…

    As for Chavez, the only way he crashes is if oil prices do and US foreign policy is not doing much to make that happen. Despite his best attempts to scare them away, foreign oil concerns are begging to get a piece of new oil fields in Venezuela…

  15. We are caudillos. We don’t need no steenking “certified by national observers” elections….

  16. Spur,

    Agreed, Lopez Obrador hastend his own decline, but the moment the PAN attack ads hit the airwaves, the PRD campaign’s negative numbers began soaring.

    Why would linking Chavez to Lopez Obrador work? Because Mexico’s seen its share of authoritarianism and a growing portion of the population doesn’t want to return to it.

    It’s worth pointing out that Chavez attacking Fox also hurt and having PRD legislators fly to Caracas to participate in anti-Fox rallies was a public relations disaster.

    I covered a Lopez Obrador rally recently; the tone has changed. But harping on about conspiracies … this is politics, not a pie-throwing contest. Of course every non-PRD politician is out to get him. Saying he would skip the first debate in April because “they’re all going to attack me,” sounded cowardly and confirmed the stereotype that he can’t handle criticism or dissent. The PRD is nothing more than the PRI revived. As one of my Mexican coworkers – a lefty – keeps saying, “The PRD is a garbage dump for the worst politicians who can’t get ahead in other parties.”

  17. Nor, the other Mark, do they repeatedly win them in fair competitions certified by international observers.

    I just knew Chavez and Bush had to have something in common.

  18. jf,

    That Chavez’s election and re-election occured in decently-run, peaceful, orderly, fair elections was pretty well reported at the time. Not that the story was widely covered, but those stories that made the press generally mentioned that these were genuine victories in a fair election.

    I wondered where you picked up that certainty that the elections were shams?

  19. RC,

    That’s actually probably a good comparison. There was no doubt low-level hanky panky, as there always is in Americans elections. The difference beting, Chavez had a significant margin of victory, so that the hanky-panky didn’t effect the outcome.

    I don’t want to leave the impression that I’m holding up Venezuela as a model of election probity. How do you say Katherine Harris in Spanish?

  20. joe:

    I now remember that I was getting a lot of my news from right-wing organizations, which colored my views. That’s why after I posted, I researched a bit (which I should have done first), and retracted what I said.

  21. jf, that’s very big of you. Cheers.

    BTW, have you happened on the proof that the “Chavez forces shooting down peaceful protesters” footage was faked?

    Someone made public the original tape, which showed the “Bolivarian militia” up in the structure, firing their weapons at…an empty field during a training exercise. Footage from this tape was edited together with footage of a panicking crowd, and released to American news outlets, particularly right wing ones, as evidence of the oligarchs’ claims that Chavez’s men were slaughtering civilians in the street. It is still widely believed in some quarters.

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