Lula Watch: Focusing on the Latin American Left – Vol.5 – No.6

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Mexico: Calderon, Continental “Responsibility,” and Chaveism

Freedom lovers in Latin America look to Mexico with interest and expectation, hoping it will take a leadership role to counterbalance the growing influence of Venezuelan President Chavez on the continent.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon announced that his government is ready to assume “responsibility” on the continent and to play an “active role” on the Latin American scene. However, as examples of that policy, Calderon suggested that Latin America should “avoid the dilemma” of choosing between Presidents Bush and Chavez and said he intends to establish “constructive relations” with Chavez’s Venezuela and Castro’s Cuba.

President Calderon’s statements caused perplexity among those who look to Mexico with interest and expectation that the announced “responsible” role of the Mexican government will be to take a leadership role to counterbalance the growing influence of Venezuelan President Chavez on the continent. Indeed, the present dilemma is to not to choose between the United States and Venezuela but between freedom and neo-populism.

In fact, on the one hand the more radical sectors of the Latin American left applaud Hugo Chavez of Venezuela as the virtual successor of dictator Fidel Castro and as the most significant representative of a neo-populist trend intended to captivate several countries in the region.

On the other hand, moderate leftist sectors see Brazilian President Lula as an alternative to Chavez’s leadership. However, Lula is actually playing the role of a “useful moderate” who dampens wholesome anti-populist reactions and leaves the way wide open to the political advance of Chavez. Therefore, Lula does not seem to be a reliable alternative to Chavez.

In this context of uncertainty, Mexico has an historic opportunity to assume authentic leadership on the continent. The Mexican people have set an example in the Americas by defeating leftist presidential candidate López Obrador in the polls. His support of President Chavez was a decisive factor in his defeat.

Having announced a policy of rapprochement with Chavez, Calderon, the victorious candidate, may disappoint a large number of Mexican voters who helped elect him, and countless Latin Americans who rejoiced with the defeat of the pro-Chavez candidate. One does not see how the recently announced rapprochement of Calderon with the Cuban dictatorship can be an example of continental “responsibility,” as it will give unmerited international support to the regime in Havana and help prolong the agony of the Cuban people.

It is to be hoped that the Mexican government will know how to interpret the legitimate longings of a majority of Mexicans and Latin Americans by taking a leadership role with all those who defend freedom.


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