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Thursday, August 12, 2004

Three Days

Until the recall referendum in Venezuela. Much to the disappointment of our two atrocious major-party presidential candidates, popular (and populist) President Hugo Chavez will apparently survive the recall attempt easily, according to most recent polls. Whether the wealthy US-backed opposition will accept the outcome is another issue.

Ironically, the mess in Iraq is probably helping Chavez in a couple of ways. First, with US troops bogged down in Najaf and aWol making warlike noises against Iran, the possibility of an American invasion of Venezuela seem remote for now. Secondly, the continuing rise in oil prices is manna from Heaven for Chavez, since the health of the Venezuelan economy is so directly tied to the price of oil. At $45 a barrel, both the wealthy elite and the government treasury get richer, softening the opposition and allowing Chavez to deliver on more of his promises to the poor.

For people like me, who see US hegemony over all of the Americas as a nightmare, not only for the people in Latin America but for US citizens as well (where have all the good jobs gone, long time passing?), Chavez represents hope. By standing up to US attempts to control his country and to push the FTAA (the whole hemisphere version of NAFTA) down his throat, Chavez encourages others in Latin America to do the same. Which is, of course, why Bush and Kerry want to crush him.

By best wishes go out to Marcela, Roberto, Alicia, Antonio, Carlos, and all of the other fine Venezuelans I might on my Global Exchange trip in April. Ooh! Ah! Chavez no se va! (Chavez won't go)