Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Chavez un-diplomatic skills

Well, if Chavez thought that he would rally "his" people under patriotic fervor against Mexico, his hopes were dashed once and for all today. The front page editorial of Tal Cual set the record straight, nobody in the opposition, not even the opposition-light of Tal Cual, will accompany Chavez in such an irresponsible adventure. Just as it refused to endorse the anti US chanting. I have partially translated the Tal Cual editorial below, and then some comments.

THE DESINTEGRATOR

Who provided Chavez with the videos of the Mar del Plata summit? Kirchner, who else? The Argentinean president shot through third party.

What he would not do directly, he does it through the “enfant terrible” that the Venezuelan president is, whose gigantic vanity makes him easy to be manipulated, as Fidel Castro found out. With the video diffusion, the delicate diplomatic weaving that the foreign ministers of Mexico and Venezuela were mounting to overcome the problem was blown away. Chavez is leaving his government more and more on the curbside of the continental debate. At Mar del Plata, no matter what the local flatterers, the government, during the discussion, was isolated. The MercoSur countries did not slam the door on FTAA, but they left ajar the possibility of continuing the discussion, trying to reach an equitable arrangement with the US of A because for these countries the present version of the FTAA treaty is a one way street.

At the end Chavez had to add his vote to the southern block, so as not to be left completely out of the game.

[slip] Mercosur does not want anything else but to compensates the imbalances of the “gringo” proposal and if the US were to accede to reciprocity in the matter, one can be certain that Brazil and Argentina, as well as its smaller associates Paraguay and Uruguay would sign without objections. [slip on what the US should do] Mercosur, for the time being, refused to accompany Chavez, to burn the chips. They will wait for the Hong Kong meeting. That is the responsible thing to do.

Chavez doe spot know how to discuss trying to understand the reasons of the others. He does not seek agreements but tries to impose unilaterally his Hill. If it is rejected, he starts a temper tantrum and like a small kid insults whomever disagrees with him. A serious and thoughtful debate with Fox would have been interesting, but the brutal aggression of the Venezuelan president shut down that way. He is also pointing his batteries to the Andean community “There is nothing for Venezuela in the Andean Community” he said last Sunday. Tomorrow if Mercosur were to reach an agreement with the US Chavez would tell us that we have no business there. The road to isolation. The integrationist discourse of Chavez crashes on his disintegrationist practices.

Venezuelans, even most chavista ones and I am willing to bet anything on that, know very well that this is all a Chavez posturing, that if some of his ideas are certainly worth considering, the way he goes about them is to simply figure in the headlines, instead of building anything durable. This nefarious and totally unproductive policy, un-diplomatic way to run foreign affairs, has been put in perfect evidence: in spite of huge handouts out by Venezuela to the small Caribbean island, in oil and payment facilities, NOT A SINGLE one did follow Chavez in Mar del Plata. Oil diplomacy has its limits, apparently.

Besides he committed a gross mistake: in Venezuela it is very fashionable to hire a group of Mariachis at birthdays to come over at the end of the party to sing “Las mañanitas”. The Venezuelan Mexico sentimental link is probably the strongest by Venezuelans to any other Latin America country, as it comes from the very important trading of colonial times (The New Spain vice royalty was a big buyer of Venezuelan cocoa beans). But this is what happens when you have rulers that not only ignore the country’s history, but despise it and try to rewrite it as much as they can.

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