This week, Hugo Chavéz stole the thunder from US president George W Bush's visit to Latin America. Two op-ed pieces from this week about Venezuelan President Chavéz show that he is increasingly and surely wining hearts and minds despite all the propaganda designed to discredit him:
Luisa Valenzuela, New York Times, March 17, 2007
I’m no political analyst; I have delved into politics only as a fiction writer. But I’m an optimist by nature, and the feeling of empowerment that President Chávez instills, and that various South American governments are endorsing, strikes me 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.Harry Alford, Louisiana Weekly, March 19, 2007
One of the most impressive things President Chavez has done is wean South American nations from the influence of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He views the IMF as an agent in the service of the US. He has persuaded South American nations to pay off their debts to the IMF and use Venezuela as the preferred friendly lender. IMF lending in the region has fallen to $50 million, or less than 1 percent of its global portfolio, compared with 80 percent in 2005. Meanwhile, Chavez has used his oil wealth to lend $2.5 billion to Argentina, offer $1.5 billion to Bolivia and $500 million to Ecuador. He says he is promoting a "socialist" alternative to the Fund and its biggest shareholder, the US Treasury. The global clout of the IMF is now diminishing.Alford is the President of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Valenzuela is an internationally acclaimed Argentinian fiction writer. Both see hope in Chavéz, a hope for a better future world in which all can prosper. Isn't that what socialism is all about?