Monday, February 19, 2007

Castañeda article

I’ve often criticized the U.S. media for its portrayal of Latin America. I just read an article in Newsweek International, feeling the same general annoyance at the oversimplification and over-emphasis on the power of Hugo Chávez, then suddenly realized it was written by Jorge Castañeda. He is a very well known political science professor (I liked his book Utopia Unarmed) and former Foreign Minister of Mexico.

In short, the article attributes much of recent Latin American political change to Chávez in ways that defy common sense. The main hypothesis is that Chávez helps other countries, and as a result the presidents of those countries concentrate power and damage democracy. I’m always uncomfortable with analyses that ignore domestic politics this much—does someone like President Kirchner really just respond to Chávez? Further, does Chávez really wield that kind of power? Last year we saw the limitations of doling out oil money, as he could not garner the necessary votes to win the Security Council seat.

What I do agree with is Castañeda's argument that the Bush administration’s refusal to play a positive role in the region encourages Chávez and offers no alternative vision of the future. All the U.S. does is repeat the free trade mantra ad nauseam, while proclaiming the need to build a big wall to keep Latin Americans out.


  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP