December 24, 2006 [LINK / comment]

Latin America Yuletide roundup

In tropical and semi-tropical Latin America, the credulity of innocent youth is stretched by the notion that "Papa Noel" (Santa Claus) travels in a sleigh. Politics in that region tends to fade away into the background this time of year, but there are a few items of interest, nonetheless:

Venezuela: One party?

It is hardly surprising that Hugo Chavez has taken the opportunity of his landslide reelection to begin a move toward bringing the various parties and movements that support him into a "Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela." Basically, the ruling "Fifth Republic Movement" party is going to subsume the other factions into a single pro-government party, the clearest sign yet that Venezuela is in a transition from a quasi-democratic regime toward a authoritarian system. See Is Venezuela going to end up as a totalitarian regime like Cuba?

The "Wrong Turn"

At Tech Central Station, Desmond Lachman wrote a good summary about the tragic turn of political currents in Latin America over the past few years. He means "wrong" as in "left." It was only a few years ago that freedom, capitalism, and democracy were on the rise throughout the region. Now all of those values are in jeopardy. (Link via Instapundit.) There is much more to the story, however. Stay tuned...

Toledo to stand trial

Peru's former president Toledo has been charged in a forgery scheme by which he became a qualified candidate in the 2000 presidential campaign. This sort of thing is typical of outsider politicians who scramble to become eligible to run for the highest office. In some countries in Latin America, parties and institutions are so weak that a dozen or more candidates end up on the ballots, leaving voters very confused about the alternatives. Much like Alberto Fujimori's "Change 90" party, Toledo's "Peru Possible" party came out of nowhere, and his lack of an institutional base was a major factor that made governing Peru very difficult. See It is another black eye for a man who was once considered the darling of many folks in the United States, the best hope for moderate reform in Latin America.

Uruguay vs. Argentina

The spat between the neighboring countries in South America has reignited once again. Uruguayans are angry at Argentina for ignoring their protests against a pulp mill that is under construction on the Uruguay River. See BBC.