Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hugo Vs the Devil

George 'Devil' Bush- That is what Hugo Chavez (the re-elected president of Venezuela) called Bush at the United Nations summit in NY. Although Venezuela is very small both Geographically and economically, the fact that Chavez has become the poster boy of left wing Bolivarian Revolution leading to the 'pink tide' in South America is somethign that irritates US a lot and this coupled with the fact that 11% of US oil comes from the country means that in these present times of uncertainty the US cannot really affort to fully alienate Chavez as was/is done with Fidel. Of course, Chavez considers Fidel his mentor and is trying ot unify South America(+Mexico) into an entity which can stand its own against the US. His strategy is to be charm the masses and then try to decrease income disparities through the distribution of petrodollars. Some commentators have said that as soon as his economic clout decreases no one would listen to him, but till then he can be given credit for a 'revolution' which the people have taken to whole heartedly, as his seen from landslide victory electing into his second term.

The larger question will remain for the capitalist economies, yes that is what most of the developed countries are because almost all of the European behemoths are slowly moving aways from socialism, how to deal with governments whcih are on the path of socializing the country? (Picture Evo Morales of Bolivia driving a stake through the hearts of foreing companies) State sponsored socialism was not completely successful anywhere. They have left Europe burdened with huge Government expenditures in terms of social security payments and strong unions that are detrimental for competition. In India even though some income disparities were removed, state control of productive resources left us completely incompetent in the world markets and in the 15 years that the state has relinquished control we are forging ahead. But, we are still not dependent on foreign investments to drive our future growth and our mutli party cultre ensures that there are checks are place that are atleast theoretically fool proof. The problem with state sponsored socialism is that it places an premium on innovation and private enterprise and spreads a sense of complacence in people ( especially in Venezuela which is starting from a strong petro dollar base) which can be detrimental in the long run. Make this single party and you do have a recipe for disaster. But atleast state sponsored would atleast mean that armed conflicts have been avoided and that itself is a big gain.

Overall, Chavez might prove to be rhetoric but if he achieves the Bolivarian dream of a united latin america, that would be his greatest contribution to history. Already he is bigger than a footnote.

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