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Thursday, November 24, 2005

Viva Chavez

I have been an admirer of the Venezuelan supremo Hugo Chavez for many years now. His recent moves to provide cheap heating oil to BPL US citizens for the winter of 2005 is a major political master stroke that only reinforces my respect for his political acumen. What we are witnessing is a paradigm shift in the way the world works. Aid has always been a tool of leverage. In this case Chavez is using it to leverage open the minds of the recipients. What is being made clear to the US electorate is that their neo-liberal rulers don't give a whit as to the effects of winter on those who cannot afford the rates. It is to be noted that the war in Iraq has been exploited by the US oil majors to harvest windfall profits, and the same war is arguably the cause of this shortage. For the small subsidy on 12 million gallons of heating oil Chavez is able to underline the lacunae of the current global financial system and buy mindshare. To me this is like taking a leaf off the Marshall plan that "rebuilt" Europe and ensure the creation of a large beneficiary population within the zone of conflict.

What makes this even more interesting is that it is probably the first credible challenge to the Monroe doctrine of the US, that supposes that the entire Americas, especially meso and south America are a kind of US protectorate and will serve the purpose of a colony for the US. (This brings to mind Kipling rather honest appraisal of colonies as " A source of raw material and a market for our manufactured goods.") If and this is a big if, Chavez is not deposed, shot or imprisoned for "crimes against humanity", the scuttling of the Mar del plata economic summit is probably the tip of the iceberg.

Of course this is one side of the picture (the majoritarian one, and hey isn't that what democracy is about), there is no lack of Chavez haters (predominantly from the ex-ruling class of Venezuela which is remarkably articulate and well networked if a bit lacking in credibility). Some choice counter opinions here.

1 comment:

  1. In this age of Indi-Ameri bhai bhai bonhomie and talk of "containing china" most Indians mindlessly accept the orthodoxy of benign international relations. India and China are very dangerous rivals for the US today as the energy consumption of these Asian giants is shooting up due to rapid industrilization and rising indegenous consumption. One of the reasons for the rising international prices is the emergence of the Asian twins as huge markets. OVL's aquisition of oil stakes in Russia, Vietnam, Sudan and talks with Venezuela for the same are very disquitening for any US administration. The US has been dead against the overland pipeline from Iran to S.Asia as they dont control it. Also it endangers some of the other energy transport projects that the west has already invested in. Our PM and his close advisers are all part of the Bretton woods system and their actions in falling in line with US policy in this matter is a cause of great concern and highly suspect. The government likes us to believe that Nuclear technology (for a country poor in uranium) is the long term hope to justify turning their back on iran. All said the world is entering a phase where every nation capable of it will try to assure its energy supply to raise its living standard. How this battle pans out will be the story of the 21st century. An interesting sub plot will be the rise of renewable resources as pivotal in human societies.