Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chávez and the Latin American Left

Kevin Lees makes an interesting, though I think overstated, point at The National Interest that Hugo Chávez provided space for moderate leftists in Latin America who otherwise would've experienced greater antagonism from the United States.

In Venezuela, bitter partisans will never agree about what, if anything, Hugo Chávez created. But there's no doubt that by occupying a petrodollar-fueled perch on the radical left, Chávez created space for progressive leftism to become much more palatable throughout Latin America.

He uses the Brazilian example most effectively. At the time of his election, Lula was viewed very warily by the Bush administration, but he simply needed to show he wasn't as radical as Chávez. It's all a matter of perspective.

He brings in Chile but it doesn't really work. Michelle Bachelet never enacted anything even remotely radical. The right is pleased with that and the left is not, but the United States would not have paid it much attention even without Chávez as a counterexample.


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