22 November, 2005

Snuggling up to Huguito's Warm Offer

Please excuse the title. I couldn't think of a better way to capture Chavez's latest effort to gain sympathy in the eyes of (poor) Americans. (Before I proceed with this post - as well as future posts on Ciudadano Presidente Hugo Chávez Frías, the official term for his position as president of Venezuelan, I mean, la Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela, which, by the way, is a sort of contradiction in terms: Simón Bolívar, the country's Libertador, fought endlessly to see not only a united American continent but, particularly, the success of "Gran Colombia", a republic which briefly united Venezuela and Colombia (as well as Ecuador and Panama) under one common flag - you should know that I am a staunch opponent of most of "El Comandante's" policies in my native country. In fact, my family moved to the United States shortly after Chávez staged a failed coup against then president Carlos Andrés Pérez, esteemed exemplar of corrupt Venezuelan politics.). Anyway, back in September Chávez made a promise to Bronx residents while on visit to the area to provide heating oil at reduced prices. As we all know, this promise of good tidings and cheaper heating bills comes amidst an oil and energy crisis that has rocked Washington and the nation alike. Now, it's definately a welcome move for the Bronx (through Citgo) and Boston alike, both located in a region of the United States that accounts for 80 percent of the nation's heating oil consumption. However, the real tale is not one of a paternal socialist figure bestowing his mercy on some needy residents of the Northeastern US (What about St. Petersburg, Moscow or Northeast China, to name three particulary needy, frigid and populous places?).

At the center of the promise is the continuation of efforts on behalf of Chávez to befriend the country of his most staunch critic. Between 2003 and 2004, Venezuela disbursed over $1 million to Patton Boggs, a lobbying firm in Washington. This not-so-paltry sum was accompanied by the founding of Venezuela's mouthpiece in Washington, the Venezuelan Information Office. The VIO was quick to establish communications with the US activist network, Global Exchange. In sharing this with you, I should be careful not to overstate these actions. After all, Chávez's media influence in the US is paled by the great reach of Gustavo Cisneros. What's my point then? Just that Chávez is being his old, quarrelsome self, looking for trouble in its resting place. Besides, I would hope this country's government could make energy policy decisions without the prompting of the great and magnificent Pluto King of Little Venice.

Huguito Buscapleito

No comments: