This article appeared in Chile’s La Tercera yesterday, it speaks for itself, another warning, this time for the country that most suffered form the effects of a Government which violated freely te rights of its citizens. It is written by Ascanio Cavallo a Dean of Journalsim at a Chilean University.
Horizon by Ascanio Cavallo in La Tercera
Among the dance of
ideas of what to do with the copper surplus-the rich kid’s syndrome-the most
original one is that one proposed by Senator Camilo Escalona: Let’s help Bolivia. The
socialist chief based his proposal affirming that this would contribute to
improve the security of the Nation and would create a long term horizon in the
relationship Santiago-La Paz. In Chilean diplomacy there are many conflicting
opinions about the origin of the difficulties with Bolivia, but nobody can deny that
the idea sounds subtle and reasonable.
The problem is that it
has a small defect: Hugo Chávez has his hand deep and probably for the long
term in Bolivia.
The Venezuelan President has turned Evo Morales into the main flagship of his
influence in South America and he went as far as fighting Brazil for that
hegemony. It seems difficult that he would accept competition in Bolivia.
If he perceives it, the most probable outcome is that he will unsheath that
quick trigger style that has created so much irritation in the region.
Chile’s political class (not to mention the economic
one) has tended to see the Chávez phenomenon with some levity. It has not perceived with clarity that his
project is one of continental hegemony, not an eccentrity limited to the folkloric
features of politics in Latin America. At some
point after the attempt to overthrow him in 2002, Chavez’ military instinct
activated a synaptic reflex that his own security would depend on his main
adversary, the US,
having more problems and fewer friends in the region.
For this, he had to
jump the principle of non-interference, a purity that gets along badly with
real-politik and in which his intellectual references like Fidel Castro have
never believed in. Chávez intervened in Bolivia,
is doing it in Peru and Nicaragua, will do it in Ecuador and if he finds the space will do it in Colombia, Brazil
Of course he will. The moment he can do it.
Chavez chose Castro as
his partner in this effort. But, by surrounding him with historical praise and
cheap oil, he retired him. Anyone that visits Cuba these days may ask whether, without
any sarcasm, it is the Cuban commander that governs that island or is it the Venezuelan
colonel that does?
Castro in at least two attributes: the first one is money. Thanks to oil, Venezuela has become the first rich adversary
has had in the region. Not only rich, but also ready to use the money: buying
Argentina’s sovereign debt, handing out sympathies in the Bolivian campaign and
now in the one in Peru and backing under cover, or at least in stealth fashion,
diverse political groups in the Continent.
The second one is his
capacity for identifying and co-opting the most marginal groups, either via
their political system or via the economic models. Wherever Castro used to
favor adventurer intellectuals like Che, Chavez chooses Bolivians indigenous people
or the “etnocaeceristas” from Peru,
the landless movement or the homeless and so on. Chavismo expresses much better
than Castrism the hoarse unhappiness with globalization or the capitalist
And because of this he
has designed a system of sub regional pacts destined to sabotage the main
symbol of that order, the free trade treaty with the US. Even worse, he demolished in a
few hours the Andean Community of Nations, only because Peru was chosing its own free trade agreement
Can anyone think that the most successful country, both in quantity and quality
in free trade, Chile,
is indifferent to the Chavez project?
The silence in Vienna
The Chilean Foreign
Minister has opted for a line of extreme prudence and neutrality in the face of
what is happening in the Continent. At the meeting that she had with Chavez in Vienna, President Bachelet announced that Chile would not have an opinion over the decisions
of is neighbors in Latin America, which was reiterated
later by foreign Minister Foxley. You can bet that in exchange for this, they received
assurances from the flattering colonel that he will do the same for Chile. Not on
the others, he could not; because he is already acting on them. They seem like
the assurances that Von Ribbentrop gave one day to a guy named Molotov.
This supposes that Chile
will not have an opinion about the eventual deterioration of democracy, freedom
of speech or even human rights in those nations. It is sad that a country that depended
so much on international solidarity and trials, has to renounce ahead of time
to back democratic principles if they were to be threatened in other latitudes.
It is sad, but it is
surely realistic. Everything indicates that Chile lacks for now any other
alternative. The role of the great international interlocutor that former
President Ricardo Lagos dreamed of for the country vanishes like a soap bubble,
given the intricate new outlook for foreign policy.
Nevertheless, it would
be even dangerous for local diplomacy to sit and lean on the definitions it had
to make during these days. Whether they want it or not, Chile will have
an influence over its neighbors due to its won needs.