November 25, 2005

The Chavez Connection

MABB © ®
As recent as two days ago, the Chavez government machinery has managed to include itself in the electoral debate in Bolivia. Chavez has been very keen on remaining a pivotal issue, not just in Bolivia, but in all Latin America. It seems that when there is no relevant chance to make the newspapers, he chooses to pick fights such as the one he recently picked with Vicente Fox.

Chavez's plans include Bolivia. Rather shall I say, Bolivia's natural gas reserves are the important piece in his plans. One part of those plans is to build a pipeline from Venezuela to Argentina, to make sure Kirchner has enough energy. For that, Kirchner is showing his greatfulness!

A commentary from El Pais says: "So gaudy is the decor with which the inventor of a new and undefined Bolivarian revolution surrounds himself, that it is hard to see what middle-term advantages, other than oil favors, Buenos Aires can obtain from this association with Caracas. Luiz Inácio da Silva, who came to the presidency of Brazil with better left-wing credentials than Néstor Kirchner, is treating the embryonic alliance with great caution, smiling toward Bush every time he has his photo taken with Hugo Chávez."

Chavez's real plans are to use the Bolivian natural gas reserves, the second largest in Latin America after Venezuela's, to expand its geopolitical influence. Chavez can effectively, for the moment, rely on the US$60 a barrel oil prices to push for his agenda in Latin America. Additionally, Chavez is counting on the upcoming and pretty busy electoral schedule in Latin America. According to a report from the Herald, at least 11 elections in the region are to be carried out between end 2005 and 2006.

(graph from The Economist)Chavez is expecting that the majority of these elections go his way. That way he would consolidate his influence if the governments turn out to the left, as the Latin American trend has been in recent times.

If these were the results, the Bolivarian Republic would have won an important battle and would be a step closer to realization. At least, that is how I would tend to see it.