3.19.2007

Luisa Valenzuela: Hugo Chávez Stings Like A Bee

In What We See in Hugo Chávez (NYTimes, 3.17.07), Argentine and writer Luisa Valenzuela offers her perspective on why Latin Americans of all classes are drawn to Hugo Chávez.

President Chávez’s weapons of seduction are his superabundance of petrodollars and his obsession with a shared Latin American project. His plan is to realize the dream of Simón Bolívar, the old utopian vision of Latin American integration that today seems more viable than ever before.
Of President Bush's contested visit to Latin America last week, Valenzuela sees a fading imperial brawler whose punches have grown soft and short:

President Bush found himself repudiated on one bank of the Plata while President Chávez was getting ovations on the opposite one: each contender in his corner and the moral triumph to the last man left standing, as in a boxing ring.
Valenzuela is moved by the "feeling of empowerment that President Chávez instills, and that various South American governments are endorsing." She sees these as "a good engine for further progress — a means of upgrading ourselves from the status of someone’s backyard into that of a truly autonomous region."