Here in Venezuela, if we were to believe what the official media spins, or forces us to watch through cadenas (1), Chavez is the conquering hero, obtaining all sorts of support from all progressive regimes, including savage capitalist and hyper authoritarian China. Apparently all agree with Chavez that the US should be erased.
But on other media the news is not as clear...
Last night and tonight I watched, coincidentally, the TV5 French news (the French international channel, which I normally watch only a couple of times a week). I was highly surprised to see that Chavez trip to China made it twice in a row.
Unfortunately for Chavez the only thing that mattered for the French is how much oil the Chinese will get from Venezuela. The thing that was untold in the French news was the reasons for the French interest in Chavez: the Chinese will probably get all what the French were supposed to get through Total until last year. But once Chavez obtained (or was that conned?) from Chirac what he wanted, including a photo-op on the Elysée palace steps, he sent the French packing. Now, the Orinoco tar sands/heavy oil system are going to whomever will actively support Chavez ambitions and Total risks to lose everything it placed in Venezuela. I am not sorry for them as they were only too willing to play dumb to Chavez increasing authoritarianism. See, French think that they are about the only ones that can make democracy work and that local dictators are usually best to favor French interests. The French ambiguity and selfishness is getting every day more scandalous, be it the Middle East or Caracas. But I digress, back to the news.
TV5 dutifully noted the oil talks and agreements between China and Chavez (not Venezuela, Chavez). But it did not note any of the things that Chavez wanted us to hear such as his latest anti Bush attacks and other anti imperial gibberish. Or his other agreements(which are not clear to us anyway as he tries to hide the oil discount he is giving to China). However tonight TV5 added a note as to Chavez political intentions in China. Chavez has told us that China will vote for Venezuela for an opening at the UN security council (2). But TV5 notes that China has not made any official statement on this matter. Interesting, no? Are the Chinese manipulating Chavez that easily? Because, of course, I trust more TV5 than Chavez on such matters as Chavez takes all too personally to understand the real interests of the Chinese whose main market is the US, not Venezuela. Any hint that China would consider supporting Chavez is taken by this one unbridled ego as an open and public support. Chinese hyper discreet diplomats must be laughing their heads off behind closed doors.
So clearly overseas Chavez does not mean what he thinks he means. The clutter he surrounds himself with does not pass with people in the know. In fact I wonder if that particular TV5 broadcast was not a way to announce that Europe “en masse” will vote against Chavez who has taken so much oil away of European companies. Interestingly Chavez is not campaigning for his UN seat in Europe (not even Spain it seems), while Chile’s parliament has taken the unusual step to ask president Bachelet NOT TO support Chavez’s bid (note: again, it is important for the reader that we are discussing Chavez foreign policy, NOT Venezuela’s one).
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1) cadena, the forced simultaneous broadcast that Chavez doe sin Venezuela, where for as long as he feels he needs ALL TV and ALL RADIO stations must transmit his message SIMULTANEOUSLY.
2) For some crazy reason Chavez has decided to invest all of his international prestige (or rather renown) on obtaining a rather meaningless seat in the UN security council. He has spent hundred of millions of dollars to buy good will overseas for what is little bit more than an ego boost, as if Chavez needed an ego boost... Meanwhile our infrastructure rots.