Tuesday 4 December 2007

Democracy alive and well in Latin America

Hugo Chavez has been defeated in his attempt to ensure leadership for life in Venezuela. The self-proclaimed heir to Simon Bolivar, who is helping to keep Cuba's economy going and whose defender on Newsnight last night was none other than 'Gorgeous' George Galloway, has not been defeated by the forces of the evil empire, aka the United States, but by the decision of many of his own supporters to stay at home or vote 'No'. Whatever good Chavez may be doing in the barrios of Caracas is undone by his own megalomaniac tendencies, and he needed a democratic vote like that this weekend to remind him of this. As for those who imagine that, Venezuela and Bolivia aside, Latin America is a hotbed of imperialism, the reality is that social democratic leaders have won power in Chile, Brazil, Argentina (after a fashion), Uruguay and Peru, and they are introducing significant reforms without screwing up the economy. Conor Foley has a good piece on the two strands of leftist politics in Latin America here. Democracy is alive and well in Latin America after far too many years of dictatorship. It is good that this is true as much in Venezuela as it is in Chile or Brazil.

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