June 10, 2007
It seems that Hugo Chavez is trying to change the subject as protests against his suppression of the free press continue. Last week he called for turning his "Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas" (ALBA) into a military alliance. The leftist trade group was created in opposition to the U.S.-led "Free Trade Area of the Americas," and Chavez says that military cooperation is necessary for the four countries -- Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Bolivia -- to become more independent of U.S. influence. The other left-wing government in Latin America, Ecuador, is also considering joining ALBA. See CNN.com. In point of fact, none of those countries are adjacent to each other, and the idea that any of them might come to the other's assistance in case of foreign invasion (by the gringos?) is pretty far-fetched. But if your regime is based on discarded romantic notions like creating a workers' paradise, it probably makes perfect sense. Once again, whatever rhetoric comes from the mouth of Chavez must be taken with a grain of salt, and it may bear no relation to reality at all.
It appears that Chilean courts are getting close to the point where they might approve the extradition of ex-president Alberto Fujimori back to Peru. See CNN.com. I tend to think that some Chileans are dragging their heels on this case just to irk their rivals to the north, even though the two governments have been getting along better in the past year or so. Ironically, Peru's president Alan Garcia is having a measure of success right now, to the surprise of most foreign observers (including me), so Fujimori would be in a weakened political condition if he is sent back to his home country. Not much is left of his political party, originally called Cambio 90. Its leaders Victor Joy Way and Martha Chavez have faced a variety of criminal charges relating to corruption during Fujimori's rule.