Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Posted on Tuesday, 03.05.13

The Oppenheimer Report

Andres Oppenheimer: Chávez's 'revolution' will lose steam abroad, but

not at home

By Andres Oppenheimer

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez's death will most likely mark the

beginning of the end of Venezuela's political clout in Latin America,

but his influence inside Venezuela is likely to last for many decades.

Contrary to the conventional wisdom in the international media that

Chávez was the political heir of Cuba's guerrilla

leader-turned-president Fidel Castro, the late Venezuelan president will

probably go down in history as a political phenomenon closer to that of

late Argentine strongman Juan D. Perón.

Like Perón, Chávez was a military officer and coup plotter who first

flirted with fascism, later turned to the left, and once in power gave

millions to the poor thanks to a boom in world commodity prices, which

set him apart from previous Venezuelan presidents who had only paid lip

service to the country's poverty-stricken masses. And like Perón, Chávez

was a narcissist — he once used the word "I" 489 times in just one

speech, on Jan 15, 2011 — who built a personality cult around himself,

and impulsively gave away billions of dollars at home and abroad without

any accountability, at the expense of destroying his country's

institutions and much of the economy.

Chávez's influence in Latin America during his 13 years in power grew in

direct proportion to world oil prices.

When he took office in 1999, oil prices hovered around $9 a gallon. When

oil prices started rising gradually to more than $80 a barrel in the

years that followed, Chávez started bankrolling loyalist politicians in

Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and other Latin American countries, and

ultimately built his ALBA bloc of Latin American allies that followed

his narcissist-Leninist model.

By 2006, Chávez was giving away up to $3.7 billion a year in Latin

America — compared to the Bush administration's $1.2 billion — to buy

political influence as he was drumming up support for his unsuccessful

bid for a Venezuela seat at the United Nations Security Council.

Many of his grandiose money pledges never materialized — like a pipeline

that was supposed to go from Caracas to Buenos Aires, which skeptics at

the time branded the "Hugoduct" — and some of his pledges for huge

infrastructure projects in Africa and Asia drew criticism at home, where

roads and bridges were crumbling.

But Chávez's influence abroad began after oil prices reached a record

$146 a barrel in 2008. Since then, and especially after Chávez was

diagnosed with a never-revealed form of cancer in mid-2011 and oil

prices fell further, Chávez's petro-dollar generosity has been confined

to Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador and a few Caribbean countries.

Now, with Venezuela's economy in near chaos, a 30 percent inflation rate

and oil prices unlikely to reach their previous records in the near

future, Venezuela will have to give up its regional ambitions, for the

simple reason that it has run out of money.

And regardless of who will run Venezuela in the future, the days of

oil-based populist megalomania are likely over because of global trends

in the energy industry.

According to most forecasts, the United States will replace Saudi Arabia

as the world's top oil producer in five years, which will cause a

reduction in U.S. oil imports and a decline in world oil prices. This

will make it hard for Chávez's successors to keep bankrolling

Venezuela's radical populist allies in the region.

But at home in Venezuela, "Chavismo" will probably remain alive as the

biggest political force for generations to come. Because Chávez's years

in power coincided with the biggest oil boom in Venezuela's recent

history, and because Chávez gave away so much money to the poor, he is

more likely to be remembered as a "champion of the poor" than as the

populist who destroyed the country's private sector, scared away

investments, and turned Venezuela more oil-dependent than ever.

From now on, much like happened in Argentina after Perón's death, most

presidential hopefuls will declare themselves "Chavistas," even if they

despised the late military coup plotter-turned-president.

And much like happened in Argentina in recent decades, we will see

"Chavista" politicians of all colors: radical leftists, moderate,

centrist and rightists. In his never-ending speeches, which sometimes

lasted more than six hours, they will find enough memorable quotes to

support almost any political theory.

Guillermo Lousteau, a professor at Florida International University who

heads the Inter-American Institute of Democracy, believes that Chávez

will go down in history not so much like Perón, but like Ernesto "Che"

Guevara — a cult figure whose influence today is more romantic than


"Chávez will become a cultural icon: we will see T-shirts with Chávez's

face, much like we see T-shirts with Che Guevara's face, but his

influence won't go farther than that," Lousteau told me.

"Chávez is no longer alive to keep the Chavista movement united, like

Perón was after he was thrown out of office," Lousteau said. "Without a

charismatic leader, and with a deteriorating economy, Chavismo will


My opinion: Latin America's political cycles tend to change every dozen

years, and Chávez's death — alongside stagnant commodity prices — is

likely to accelerate the waning days of Chávez's "Bolivarian revolution"

in Latin America.

Much like we had military dictatorships in the 1970s, social-democracies

in the 1980s, pro-free market governments in the 1990s', and "Chavismo"

in the 2000s, we may be entering a new decade of something different —

hopefully democratic pragmatism.

But Chávez's undeserved image as the region's biggest champion of the

poor — in fact, countries like Peru and Chile reduced poverty more than

Venezuela in recent years, and without weakening their democracies —

will have a lasting negative impact on Venezuela. As often happens in

commodity-rich countries, populist leaders thrive during booms in world

commodity booms. Then, when commodity prices go down and they leave

office — whether they are thrown out or, as in Chávez's case, die in

office — their successors have to take unpopular economic measures, and

the former populist leaders' followers can say, "You were better off

when we were in power."

Venezuela will be no exception to Latin America's commodity curse.

Chávez's populism will remain popular for decades. It will take a lot of

time — and education — to convince many Venezuelans that Chavismo was

"bread for today, hunger for tomorrow,'' and that the most successful

countries are those that have strong institutions, rather than strong men.

Related Articles:

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

March 2013
« Dec   Apr »
Please help us to to pay for more powerful servers. Thank you.
Peso Convertible notes
Peso Convertible