Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Obama, Venezuela, and Latin America

Earlier this year during one of the democratic candidate debates Obama stated he would be willing to hold talks with world leaders the US considers our "enemy" including Chavez. Naturally many, including Venezuelans, saw this as a sign of weakness and Obama being naive. I disagree.

Obama has correctly pointed out that Chavez, during the Bush presidency, has exploited the void left in Latin America by the US due to it's engagement in Iraq, and combined with our disastrous policy towards Latin America, Chavez has easily fomented anti-american sentiment.

Obama afirmó que lo que debe hacer su país es dar a conocer a Chávez que no están interesados en que siga propagando el sentimiento anti-estadounidense en la región, pero que está interesado "en entablar un diálogo respetuoso con todos en América para buscar la manera de mejorar su calidad de vida", subrayó.

I do find the notion of not engaging with Chavez a proven failure of a policy (ie. Cuba). We have held high level meetings with every country in the world (excluding Cuba) that we have considered enemies (North Korea, Iran, Syria, etc...).

In other news, Obama condemned Chavez and his anti-democratic credentials, after his expulsion of the representatives of the NGO Human Rights Watch.

As I have stated on multiple occasions, between McCain and Obama it is Obama who will likely have the best ability to contain Chavez's influence in Latin America. At the very least black and indigenous groups in Latin America, who predominately still identify with Chavez, will feel some affinity to Obama if not because it is a change for Bush but because of Obama's race.