Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hugo Chavez’s battle: The complete story

Chavez is waging “his” war. Last night, on national television, he laughed when he mentioned the one round on Monday that finished in a Draw: The empire 93, Venezuela 93. We tied them.
Hugo Chavez faced an embarrassing political defeat on Tuesday, his attempt to gain admission to the U.N. most powerful body effectively stymied.

The voting is a setback for him, who in recent months has travelled extensively and invested heavily in an attempt to win support for his country's bid. It is a tremendous blow to Chavez, said a Buenos Aires based international relations specialist. His votes have fallen well short of what he expected.

The impasse has prompted other Latin American countries to suggest regional talks on a way to avoid a recurrence of divisions that afflicted the region at the height of the cold war. Chavez ambassador indicated he could withdraw his candidacy if Guatemala also withdrew. Later Chavez denied it from Caracas. Let them defeat us, there on the field of battle, he said during a televised speech to visiting Chinese officials and his Cabinet at the presidential palace.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton denied pressuring anyone. "We have made our position in a very low-key way. It is motivated by our concern for Venezuela's behaviour," he said. Bolton rejected the allegation that the U.S. is using coercion to defeat Chavez, telling reporters that Chavez accusation was another example of the behaviour that caused the U.S. to oppose his candidate. “Guatemala is going to win”, Bolton said.

Observers here noted, however, that opposition from the United States constituted a major obstacle to Venezuela's bid. Ambassador Cardenas was quoted as saying that a Venezuelan victory would give small and impoverished nations "an independent voice needed on the Security Council to fight against the power of money."

Analysts said that Washington feared that Chavez, once elected to the council, would pose a serious challenge and shatter the U.S. desired consensus in handling many international issues.
In addition, they noted that with the world's most populous Muslim country Indonesia and South Africa, a major player in the Group of 77, already on the Council, Washington would not like to see Chavez to add still further to the uncertainty in its dealing with the Council.

Failure among the Latin American and Caribbean nations to reach compromise has also contributed to the deadlock over voting. Lain American states could agree to put forward a new candidate, but only if the existing two agree to step down. But the two countries, each with its own supporters within the group, have so far refused to withdraw from the race.

Observers here generally believe that a breakthrough in the current stalemate seems unlikely in the short run unless the situation takes a dramatic turn. It is noteworthy, however, that the United States will intensify its lobbying efforts in the coming days.

For a megalomaniac character like Chavez, Win or lose at the United Nations, Chavez comes out on top because the experience has already furthered his legend. This U.N. Security Council adventure carries little or no risk for Chavez, said a regional analysis group in a recent report.

If Chavez gets his man elected to the non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council that Chavez seeks, he will look strong and thus profit. If he loses, as he probably will, he will blame “the empire and its allies”, vow to continue the fight, and move on. He already did this.

The Council prompted a 24-hour break to explore how to resolve the impasse. Brazil, Chavez big brother, said Latin American and Caribbean nations had agreed to hold off voting until Thursday and meet informally to assess the situation. Chavez and Guatemala agreed, but neither country withdrew.

He seems to think he wins either way. Assuming he can overcome the vote deficit, a seat on the Security Council would, according to an analyst with the Inter American Dialogue in Washington would give Chavez a much bigger platform to oppose the United States and block the U.S. agenda. And if he does not get the seat, Chavez will surely say it was the victim of U.S. strong arming. Either way, Chavez garners the international attention he loves and bolsters his own reputation as a powerful and rich man.

But it is not necessarily true. Chavez has taken on the mantle in Washington's view traditionally worn by Cuba's Fidel Castro as irritant-in-chief.

Chavez has tried to form an alliance in Asia, Africa and the Middle East to challenge Washington's interests. He has invested huge sums in the form of aid to countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa in its campaign for the Security Council seat. He made his ambassador to the UN to said that he is fighting against the first power of the world, the owners of the universe, said

Failure to get into the U.N. Security Council would represent a setback for his ambitions for a bigger international profile.

In his own country, most people and analysts consider this to be “his” personal defeat, not a national defeat. May be internationally he wins the frontlines his narcissist psychology needs but his image of invincible warrior will be tarnishes a few weeks before presidential elections. No doubt, he will pay the unnecessary defeat and discredit he brought upon Venezuelans citizens. Time will tell sooner than later.

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Sources: The Associated Press; Financial Times; Voice of America; Xinhua; UPI; The Guardian; Reuters; Bloomberg; BBC and myself.