An interesting look at the results of this week’s elections in Italy. It seems that political theatre and the failure of politicians to make important decisions while facing economic crises (US continued budget brinkmanship, Chavez and Economics in Venezuela, etc.) is becoming a pandemic. Not sure what will happen in Italy, but after reading this blog post none of the most likely outcomes outlines by Douglas Elliot sounds all that great.
I didn’t think this situation could get any shadier than Chavez being sequestered away in a hospital in Cuba, but I guess I was wrong. Chavez supposedly is back as reported by the Venezuelan government, and there isn’t any specific reason to believe otherwise, but the strange way that the government has handled his “disappearance” from public life is odd to say the least. The government’s actions basically beg people to ask what is being hidden, and lead to some spectacular rumor mongering and speculation, which can only erode society’s trust in the government. Assuming Chavez is alive and in Venezuela, which again there is no reason to believe otherwise at this time, it is hard to imagine a worse way of handling this situation.
So it sounds like Hugo Chavez has finally returned to Venezuela (New York Times), which will hopefully mean that the last couple of months of political chaos and absurdity that the country has been living through has finally come to an end. For almost 2 months, and shortly after wining reelection to the presidency, Chavez had been under secretive treatment for unspecified cancer in Cuba. What was amazing is that for more than 2 months Chavez was sequestered in Cuba with absolutely no information available to anyone in the country to the status of his health, or proof that he was still alive. After more than a month of total silence a few pictures were released by the government, but this caused almost more confusion and skepticism to Chavez’s true status (First Pictures of Chavez). He was physically incapable of being sworn in, and this created a near constitutional emergency. Political ally tried to rally people and accused the opposition of disloyally using the circumstances for political gains and did all sorts of ridiculous stunts to try to rally political opinion to the pro-government cause (Who cares about real problems when there are baseball caps). All of this of course has been taking place while the country has been in dire economic straits, with major shortages being reported in super markets, massive inflation, high levels of crime and violence in Caracas (the capital), diminishing oil exports due to poor management of the state oil company, and mounting state debt. The problems are so serious the government has had to act before Chavez’s return with Venezuela devaluing the Bolivar. There is so much about this story that just boggles my mind.
- First, how on earth did the acting president of a country spend 2 months in a foreign country for treatment of cancer (potentially terminal) without anyone in the country knowing what was going.
- How is it that no leader in Latin America has anything to say about this? When presidents in Honduras and Paraguay were overthrown in less than normal circumstances, outcries were heard about how democracy was being trampled. And yet while Chavez laid in a bed in Cuba, not a single word was uttered about how democracy was being threatened. I find this very disturbing. Leaders in Latin America’s left leaning parties are far too ready to attack neo-conservatives and Yankee threats to democracy, but are far too often willing to ignore the same actions that would drive them crazy if they were being done at the behest of the U.S. or of the right. Can you imagine what would happen if a president of a Latin American country spent 2 months in total media silence in a secret government hospital in the U.S.? I am pretty certain it wouldn’t be silence.
I just hope that in the not too distance future, that leaders in Latin America will be able to move forward and call out any threat to peace, prosperity, and democracy and not just those convenient times when the threats are being perpetuated by members on the other side of the political spectrum.