Sunday, June 13, 2004

Sunday Morning in San Felipe
Termites and Latin American integration

Sunday 13, June 2004

The start of the rainy season has brought to Yaracuy almost non stop cloudy weather, and almost wice daily rain for the last month and a half. In fact, the temperature has been cooler than normal. The humidity has reached levels that I do not recall, fungus growing even on my stored shoes! This morning I had a bad surprise. When I grabbed my CD of Beethoven 9th, I found INSIDE the CD, a growing termite nest!!! The CD was stored in its normal pile inside a wooden crate; I had not touched it for at least a couple of month! Now I am going to have to go through all my wooden furniture and track termite nests!!!! This is happening on the third floor of a concrete building...

The reason why I wanted to listen to the 9th is because today Europe finishes its electoral process to elect a new assembly considering the increase in membershipm, and the 9th is the European anthem. I am definitely pro European, and I cannot help to contrast the two process, the effective trade oriented and now people oriented European integration with the failed Latino American Integration where leaders want it to be "leader" oriented instead of people oriented. Only Mercosur is making any headway there, and this because they decided to create common "material" interest before moving on further integration.

But In Venezuela Chavez has basically sabotaged the precarious Andean Community (From Venezuela to Bolivia). Instead he has been proposing an obscure ALBA which has been most welcome by anti globalization defenders; but turned down by any responsible leader. Sensibly as the ALBA is a vehicle for the international image of Chavez and has little to do with economic reality. On the other hand, after having trashed the Andean association Chavez has been knocking the door to Mercosur, receiving little bit more than a polite hearing. On the other hand the Andean Community seems to forge faster links with the Mercosur than impatient Venezuela. Some wits have remarked that before Venezuela creates new commercial links it should demonstrate that it honors the ones it already has. But that will not happen: "integration" Chavez way is not driven by the interests of the people but by his own political interests. That might work with Venezuela, but Argentina and Brazil leaders, inasmuch as they might be on the left political spectrum, know better.

Still, an undaunted Chavez will jump in his plane this afternoon for a Brazilian meeting on third world development sponsored by Lula. The sad fact for Chavez is that Lula is going to use him for free. In his rather successful bid to slow down North America trade hegemonical desires in Latin American, Kirchener and Lula have been using Chavez as an example of what they could do if they wanted to. By displaying Chaevz next to themselves, they do clearly demonstrate that they are very responsible leaders when they force the IMF to give a better deal to Argentina, or when they block trade talks like the Cancun round a few weeks ago.

The problem with Chavez is that he is locked into an infantile anti US policy hoping to stir support at home with depasse slogans. He might have an echo outside Venezuela, but inside we are starting to think that termites are getting inside his XIX century caudillo reactionary brain. These termites did damage my CD but still the 4th movement, Ode to Joy, did play perfectly. I take it as a good omen.

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