Friday, July 26, 2013

Capriles and Chilean Foreign Policy

I disagree with much of Juan Nagel's take on Henrique Capriles and Chilean politics. In short, he got the cold shoulder both from Michelle Bachelet and Sebastián Piñera, both of whom refused to get involved in the Venezuelan political controversy.

Nagel argues that Piñera's decision was based on fear of reprisal from Caracas, while Bachelet's was because "when it comes to foreign policy, the radical left wing of her coalition is in command." For this he cites the recent inclusion of the toothless and small Communist Party into the Nueva Mayoría, along with her primary-driven campaign spending promises (in 2005 she also made lots of promises, then quickly went straight back to the center).

Neither of those arguments convinces me, because the clear history of Chielan foreign policy since the end of the dictatorship has been pragmatism and non-intervention, both of which explain the similar reactions by high level politicians of different parties. In fact, the left and the right in Chile have the exact same foreign policy stance.

My hunch is that both Bachelet and Piñera figure there were imperfect elections, but they weren't different enough from a host of other imperfect elections to overcome a strong inclination to avoid meddling. While Venezuela wants to be a revolutionary vanguard and Brazil wants to a global diplomatic player, Chile wants to trade. And it doesn't want to be too distracted unnecessarily by something that has nothing to do with trade. That transcends any other aspect of ideology.


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