The world is continuing to shrink and become a village. “Red Hugo” (as Institutional Investor magazine characterized him four years ago in a cover story) was and is a threat to democracy and capitalism — thus putting him and the US on the road to a showdown at some point. (the US gets a good supply of oil from Venezuela.)
But the People of Venezuela were smarter than their blustering would-be dictator — they have enjoyed their freedoms, even in a nation of many have-nots, and cut the oxygen off for President Chavez. Enough! the voters seem to be saying this week.
Folks on Wall Street and in Corporate America do worry about Red Hugo and his followers in other Latin American nations. This should help them sleep better tonight — while President Chavez may rant even more, Venezuelans seem to be awake and alert to the dangers within, including threats to their freedom. Now all we have to wait for is word about Uncle Fidel in Cuba…the cagy dictator who has outlasted ten American presidents (Eisenhower thorugh Bush 43)and who encouraged Mr. Chavez in various mischievous ways. Will the Cuban people pursue democracy at some near point?
Another key question — will democratic rule continue to be the dominant form of public governance in Latin America? The whole world has a stake in the future of democracy on the continent. A powerful and positive signal was sent this week from Caracas, so we have some good news now and a partial answer to that question. Stay Tuned to Latin American politics — 2008 could be a roller-coaster year. Oh, and did we mention the oil…