Friday, December 30, 2005

Red Power

Venezuelan Communist party won eight seats in the National Assembly, its best performance since 1958.

The congressional vote was marked by unprecedented abstention and serious doubts about the process. International observers, including the OAS and the European Union openly questioned the process in which the government obtained total parliamentary control (100% of the seats).

The communist ascendancy within the government coallition evidences the radicalization of Venezuela.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

As Seen on TV

Chile’s Presidential elections will be decided on national TV.

After intense negotiations the two contenders for the Chilean run-off vote finally agreed to debate on January the fourth.

The latest surveys give a narrow lead of 5% to Michelle Bachelete over Sebastián Piñera. With such a close difference both candidates see the debate as the one event that will define the race.

Michelle Bachelete, a moderate socialist, represents the ruling party and would be the first female President of Chile. Sebastián Piñera is an airline and broadcasting tycoon who leads a right wing coalition.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Leftist Club to Debut in January

The first encounter of regional leftist presidents could happen as early as January.

Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is meeting with Argentine’s Nestor Kirchner mid-January in Brasilia. Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez and Bolivia’s President Elect Evo Morales will be invited join the party, says a Reuters cable.

This will be summit to watch with four strong characters trying to show united to the world and also competing for leadership.

The summit is the formal beginning of Latin American shift to the left.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Bolivia Gets Kick from Cocaine

Evo Morales keeps a picture of Che Guevara in his pocket. The picture is his talisman, and also his north. Bolivia is going the Cuban way, or at least that is what Morales plans.

As a “cocalero” leader he is anti-American by definition. He has been mentored by Castro and Chavez. He wants a constitutional assembly to produce a socialist document. He also wants to nationalize all natural resources and get rid of foreign companies.

You would probably think that he is leading Bolivia to an economic crisis but he has the money to finance any extravagance, courtesy of Venezuela’s oil. Plus coca leaf production may become a major source of windfall money.

If Hugo Chavez is a headache for the US, Morales will be a migraine.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Lula Rings W

Brazilian President, Luiz Ignacio Lula da Silva, called President Bush with an invitation. Lula wants the G-7 and emerging country presidents to meet right before the upcoming Hong Kong WTO summit. If they can't make it before Hong Kong, then they could meet by the end of January.

Lula wants to kill two birds with a stone. The first is to put pressure the EU on the agricultural subsidies which obstruct Brazil’s entry to the lucrative European market. The second is to make clear than regardless of Venezuela’s entry in Mercosur, he is first and foremost with Brazilian businesses.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Sunday Girl

The Chilean Presidential elections scheduled for this coming Sunday look more complicated than 3 months ago when Michelle Bachelet from the ruling center-left party had a 30% lead. Indeed, the latest surveys predict a run-off with right wing candidate Sebastián Piñera.

These are the numbers of an recent survey reported by the blog Chile/Elecciones/2005:

Bachelet: 38,5%
Piñera: 22,1%
Lavín: 16%
Hirsch: 7,6%

After all Chile may not elect her first female President this year and the continental balance may shift a bit to the right.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Venezuela Goes Radical

Chavez’s revolution is about to enter a more radical phase.

With absolute control of Congress Chavez can re-write the constitution to extend his presidential period at will, formalize the Cuba alliance with a sort of federation and formally define the country as socialist.

The opposition boycott to the legislative process may have dented government legitimacy. But that can also be fixed by re-writing the constitution and re-defining democracy.