Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Will Venezuela withdraw?

More signs of Venezuela’s willingness to withdraw—its ambassador says the country is “exploring ways out.” Also see Ka’s discussion in comments to a previous post, where the Venezuelan government expressed the need for some vague conditions before it would withdraw, like having “dialogue” (conversaciones).

I had lost track, but there have been 35 rounds, and the UN is scheduled to begin again today. I get the impression that Chávez really wants out now, as the current situation works against him. Meanwhile, Evo Morales says it could be a candidate in place of Venezuela, but I would have to think that is a nonstarter.

The article quotes some Latin Americanists about the effect of this entire saga, and I must say I disagree with them. Similar to statements by President Chávez, the gist is that simply blocking the U.S. choice is a victory.

“This is like a boxing match. You have a heavyweight in the form of the U.S., you have a junior weight in the form of Venezuela, and the fact that Venezuela has lasted this long speaks tremendously to the kind of influence that they were able to generate,” said Miguel Tinker Salas, a Latin American studies professor at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.


“I think Chavez has achieved a lot to put Venezuela in a position of significant global leadership,” said Dan Hellinger, a political scientist at Webster University in St. Louis.

I don’t think these arguments work well. Chávez’s goal was to win, not simply to block the U.S. choice, and he spent a considerable amount of money to do so. His speech to the UN clearly hurt him, and I just don’t see that all this adds up to “significant global leadership.” With the secret vote, each government was able to vote its conscience, but did not flock to him. With anti-U.S. sentiment so strong right now, and with President Bush so incredibly unpopular abroad, for Chávez this represents a failure to establish himself as the voice of less developed countries.


Michelle 12:46 PM  

Nice article on failure.

Greg Weeks 3:30 PM  

Thank you. It was a nice way of getting a publication out of a rejection, and it was fun to write.

For you political scientists out there, the article is in the latest (October 2006) issue of PS: Political Science and Politics, and is about the use and abuse of rejection in Political Science.

Anonymous,  4:22 PM  

If Tony Blair is Bush's poodle, what does that make Evo Morales to Hugo Chavez? Talk about the lack of an independent voice. This whole thing has become a joke. Bolivia is as much a reasonable compromise candidate as Venezuela is.

Sounds like Hugo Chavez is trying to borrow a play from Mike Tyson's playbook ("I will just fade into Bolivian"). Sorry, I could not resist the reference. Google "fade into Bolivian" if you don't remember the quote.

Jordan 6:33 PM  

It's hard to see where Mr. Hellinger is going with that argument. What good publicity could come from this loss at the UN?

This vote has been a concrete and illustrative example of Chavez's lack of influence in the region, if anything. I understand how some people might be surprised at the amount of votes he managed to garner, but that cannot be confused with some sort of "moral victory" here.

Anonymous,  12:37 AM  

In regards to Mr. Hellinger, he is big Chavez supporter who is routinely invited to government sponsored events (via the Venezuelan Information Office). Therefore, his credibitlity/unbiased opinion is questionable. He wrote a book titled "Venezuela Politics in the Chavez era:...."

Greg Weeks 7:23 AM  

Writing a book is hardly a sign of bias, but I haven't read any of his work so I don't know. Biased or not, my own feeling is that up to this point, it is very hard to see this as a Chávez victory.

Anonymous,  9:58 AM  

The point I was trying to make was that the fact he wrote a book doesn't make him biased, it is what he writes that does. His involvement with government sponsored "information session" also puts into question his unbiasedness. Unfortunatlly, I was supposed to sit on a forum panel with him to discuss Venezuela but he is unable to attened.

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