Cristina Kirchner, Foreign Policy and “Lula-Chavezism”
Hugo Chavez’s interference in Argentine politics is taking on unparalleled characteristics. It remains to be seen how Argentines will react
1. Argentina’s presidential candidate, Cristina Kirchner, a current senator and wife of President Néstor Kirchner, said that foreign policy will play a major role during her tenure if she wins the national elections this October.
In this sense, Senator Kirchner has proclaimed that Hugo Chavez is a necessary stabilizing influence on the continent. She said outright that “Latin America needs Chavez.” Mrs. Kirchner seems not to be concerned about the Venezuelan president’s current neo-imperialist policies that sustain the Cuban dictatorship almost to the degree that the old Soviet Union did. She does not seem to notice the fact that Chavez is financing leftist governments in Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua while Venezuela itself carries out a systematic process to curtail civil liberties and free enterprise.
2. In his recent visit to Argentina, President Chavez rewarded Cristina Kirchner’s generous words by lavishing praise on the presidential candidate calling her “president” and thanking her for the “loyalty,” “dignity” and the “courage” that she showed recently when she defended him at important international forums.
3. Mrs. Kirchner has said that her models for domestic politics are Brazil’s President Lula and Chile’s President Bachelet, apparently taking a distance from Chavez’s authoritarianism. How can one reconcile this position with her recent praise and effort to shore Chavez up in the international arena? Her dual approach in relation to Chavez is very similar to that of President Lula of Brazil. In this sense, Lula and Cristina Kirchner appear to be examples of “useful moderates” who end up as effective “fellow travelers” of the Venezuelan president.
Thus, a presidential victory by Cristina Kirchner would explicitly or implicitly favor “Lula-Chavezism” and could not fail to cause concern among those who defend freedom in Latin America.
4. The big question mark in this whole case is not Mrs. Kirchner, who has shown her cards in advance regarding foreign policy, but whether Argentine voters will elect or reject her in the ballots. Chavez’s interference in Argentine politics is taking on unparalleled characteristics and it remains to be seen how Argentines will react.
5. In the 2006 elections in Mexico and Peru, Chavez’ ostensive support of leftist candidates López Obrador and Ollanta Humala was decisive for their defeat. On the other hand, on August 4 Argentine customs officers confiscated a bag containing nearly $800,000 from a plane carrying officials of the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA. It is important to ascertain to what degree the Venezuelan regime is involved and what its Argentine ramifications are. Many observers raised the hypothesis the funds were meant to influence the Argentine presidential campaign.
6. In several South American countries, an enigmatic phenomenon of ideological and moral lethargy seems to have taken hold in decisive segments of the population, thus helping to pave the way to various types of neo-populism. The cultured and intelligent Argentine people, with a strong personality that makes it stand out among other Spanish-speaking nations, now has an opportunity to help that lethargy go away so that lucidity and common sense will once again prevail, for the good of Argentina and Latin America.
Previous editorials, related with the topic of the apathy in Brazil:
* Brazil: booings to Lula, lethargy and wholesome reactions
* Chávez and his ally Lula, the “general anesthesist”
* Lula: A “useful moderate” at the service of Chávez?
* The “Lula method” of solving conflicts: Who profits?
* Is Brazil Sick? Minister Mello, government corruption and apathy