So Hugo was up to his usual bad boy antics. I was wondering whether I should cover them as they are so embarrassing, so tantrum temper like, that it is demeaning to address them. But then again, there is a lot of foreign readers that need to know exactly what Chavez means and how bad it is (special treat: most links today in English).
It all started a couple of days ago when Chavez attended a rather odd "summit" in Asuncion. Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela. What kind of summit is that? Well, soon enough it was clear that Paraguay and Uruguay were using Chavez to put pressure on Brazil and Argentina by having Chavez declare rudely that he was joining Mercosur to put the house in order. I laugh at it as it reflects the uncouthness of Chavez in all its vulgarity: he walks in and he knows better than the folks at if for over a decade. Or was that just again a show of ignorance from Chavez?
That "summit" was also the occasion for Chavez to announce that Venezuela would leave the Andean Community. Besides screwing the millions that depend on trade with Colombia (and other Andean Community countries) it is utter nonsense, a gesture just for the glory of Chavez, a diplomatic and economic move that will only benefit Chavez and his trading partners, but not Venezuelans who will surely hurt as hundred of thousand of jobs could be lost.
To add insult to injury to our sore brains trying to make sense of this madness, Chavez went ahead and promised to blow up oil fields in Venezuela if the Marines landed to take his oil, just like Saddam did in Kuwait. One does not know whether to cry or to laugh about such stupidity. To begin with, even if there was a plan to do so, you do not go out and say it. Period. But if you want more arguments: nobody in Venezuela is seriously preparing their houses for a Marine landing. Except of course the few "reserve" that accept to go to boot camp as long as some money reaches them. Also, apparently Chavez support of Saddam goes much further than one would have thought. Apparently he approves of what Saddam did to Kuwait! Unbelievable!
The cherry on the top was given when Chavez offered as a model the trade system set up between Castro and Chavez. Apparently these two "socialist countries" trade suddenly went up from 100 million to 1.5 billion in a signle year!!! Of course this is an utter lie as Chavez conveniently ignores the hundreds of million that he gives away to Castro, not Cuba, Castro. But who is counting? Anyway, during a brief stop in Curitiba Chavez insisted on how Venezuela and Cuba are becoming one country (and admission of him seeking the succession of Castro in Havana itself?)
But why is Chavez suddenly upping the ante? Why is Chavez risking so much ridicule overseas with people that actually count pennies and know better than the ALBA delyrium? One thing is that his dreams of LatAm empire are not doing too well. Uribe still rolls above the 60% at a few weeks from the election. Humala not only did not win on the first round in Peru, but his 30% result makes his extremist candidacy far from a shoo-in at the second round. It is hard to conceive Lourdes Flores supporters voting for Humala. If half of them go for Garcia and the other half stay home that would already be enough for Humala to exit. The new parliament of Peru will be controlled by the "opposition" no matter who wins. Humala seems to sense that and has been backpedaling fast on his ties to Chavez by being on record as regretting the decision of Chavez to leave the Andean Community. Further more, it might be a sign that Chavez senses that Lula will sit down and negotiate with he US after his possible reelection. Thus he must move fast to stir the lefty crowds wherever he can, even if along the way Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay "se lo chulean" (they pimp him?).