August 25, 2006 [LINK]

Chavez makes deals in China

Hugo Chavez is visiting the People's Republic of China -- a nominally Marxist dictatorship -- he signed agreements with the Beijing government, under which China will invest in Venezuela to develop oil fields, a telecommunication network, farms, and gold and coal mines. Furhermore, "He said Venezuela plans to almost quadruple sales to China to 1 million barrels a day in the next decade." China has already been investing heavily in several Latin American countries, and has a contract to operate the ports of the Panama Canal, so the strategic implications of these commercial deals are obvious. Of course, Chavez took the opportunity to badmouth Uncle Sam once again, and to condemn Israel's attacks in Lebanon, comparing them to Nazi Germany. China's President Hu Jintao expressed support for Venezuela getting a seat on the U.N. Security Council, a clear slap in the face to U.S. interests. Who knew that the Monroe Doctrine might become relevant once again in the post-Cold War era?

On a brighter note, opposition forces in Venezuela are regrouping behind a candidate to run against Chavez in elections scheduled for December. (Will they be remotely fair and open?) Manuel Rosales is the governor of Zulia, the western province where most of Venezuela's oil wells are located. It's a long shot, but a rally for Rosales had bigger-than-expected crowds. See (via Instapundit).

Conservative plurality in Mexico

Nearly two months after the national elections were held, authorities in Mexico announced the final results of the congressional races. The National Action Party (PAN), led by President Fox and (apparent) president-elect Calderon, won 206 seats in the 500-seat Chamber of Deputies, a gain over more than 50 seats, while the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), led by Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, won 126 seats, a gain over more than 30 seats. Both parties gained seats in the 128-seat Senate, as well. Meanwhile, the once-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party came in third place in the Chamber of Deputies, a sharp blow to its prestige. See BBC and El Universal (not a permalink). The upshot is that the conservative PAN holds a legislative plurality, but not a majority. It is therefore false to state, as many journalists do, that PAN is the "ruling" party. It needs to negotiate with moderate opposition legislators to get a majority of votes to pass legislative and spending measures. The Politics section of the Mexico page has been duly updated.

Mexican legislative elections
Chamber, year Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD) Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) Others National Action Party (PAN)
Ch. Dep. 2006 126 105 71 206
Ch. Dep. [2003] 95 250 12 151
Senate 2006 29 33 14 52
Senate [2003] 16 65 1 46