May 30, 2006 [LINK]

Peru resents meddling by Chavez

Once again, Hugo Chavez is doing his best to make enemies, deriding front-running Peruvian presidential candidate Alan Garcia not only as "an irresponsible demagogue and thief", but claiming that he represents "the Peruvian oligarchy, the right wing and the US empire." In Latin American political discourse, the latter allegations are especially low blows. Chavez has threatened to cut off diplomatic ties with Peru if Garcia wins the election, and once again, the government of Peru has rebuked Venezuela's interference in its internal political processes. President Toledo called on the OAS to take a stand on this matter. See BBC. The strident tone of Chavez in recent weeks may be an indication that he is nearing his peak in terms of international influence. Third World countries that resort to defiant foreign policies to bolster domestic support usually end up alienating potential allies, by making them jealous of all the attention, part of the phenomenon that I label "anti-imperialist overstretch." Ironically, Alan Garcia had precisely that experience when he was president of Peru in the late 1980s.

I noticed that CITGO, which is wholly owned by Petroleos de Venezuela S.A., has begun running ads on NBC's "Meet the Press," part of a propaganda campaign aimed at reassuring the gringos that Chavez is not really going to cut off our oil supply, as he often threatens. See

Uruguay defends pulp mill

In response to an escalation of pressure from Argentina to halt work on a pulp mill under construction earlier this month, the government of Uruguay has launched a public relations campaign in defense of the project. The environmental minister insists that it will meet high international standards. See BBC. In March, the two countries had agreed to an impartial process to make sure that the pulp mill doesn't cause major pollution, so the renewed friction seems to stem from domestic politics on the part of Argentina. It would appear that Argentina's objections to the project are based in part upon nationalistic sentiment, but the project is a joint venture of firms from Spain and Finland, neither of which presently have close relations with the United States. That being the case, Argentina's position on this issue seems short-sighted to me.