3/15/2005

The "anti-Bush"

Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, is one of the world's most outspoken Bush critics. He has hosted Iranian leaders and defended their right to develop nuclear power, he has firmly defended Fidel Castro, and he recently purchased Kalashnikov rifles from Russia. According to the WaPo:
In a recent televised speech, Chavez described the arms purchases and a plan to increase army reserve troops as "an honorable answer to President Bush's intention of being the master of the world." Chavez is the most vocal and visible symbol of a rising tide of anti-American sentiment in Latin America. Leaders in the region are increasingly disillusioned because a decade or more of the Washington prescription -- democracy and free-market economics -- has failed to alleviate poverty and economic inequality. Six Latin American nations, most recently Uruguay, now have presidents whose views clash, in varying degrees, with Washington's. Another politician with sharp anti-Washington views, Mexico City Mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, is the early favorite in next year's presidential election, which could bring the trend to the banks of the Rio Grande...Chavez, after soundly defeating his domestic opposition in a recall referendum last August, and flush with soaring profits from record-high global oil prices, has increasingly been making deals with countries in Latin America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia, positioning himself as something of an anti-Bush. In a recent interview on al-Jazeera, Chavez called for developing nations to unite against U.S. political and economic policies. "What can we do regarding the imperialist power of the United States? We have no choice but to unite," he said. Venezuela's energy alliances with nations such as Cuba, which receives cheap oil, are an example of how "we use oil in our war against neoliberalism," he said.

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