Articles by: Max Ajl
Although some Venezuelan opposition groups are still in denial over Hugo Chávez's victory in his campaign to eliminate term limits, others have tried to regain their footing. A few distinct tendencies have become visible: from re-engagement with the political process and an attempt to broaden appeal, to a more thorough self-analysis and a recognition of the need to address poverty and inequality. The direction taken by the opposition could well determine the future of the Bolivarian Revolution.
Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and his Workers' Party (PT) have faced strong criticism from the left since the beginning of Lula's first term in 2003. Although the 2010 presidential elections are still distant, some sectors disillusioned by the Lula administration are already attempting to build a left-leaning alternative to the PT. And, for now, it seems that effort is resonating with the Brazilian electorate.
While the mainstream media fumes over the possibility of indefinite re-election in Venezuela, local reaction of some chavista sectors provides compelling insights into the course of Venezuela's revolutionary process. Some chavistas support the referendum in undying devotion to Chávez, for many others its pure pragmatism. For still others, the officials in the government are just incubators of a more radical project.
With a string of huge new oil discoveries, pundits are wondering whether Brazil will become the next Venezuela—a poverty-stricken country that uses windfall oil profits to improve social welfare. Multinational companies are already jockeying for sweetheart deals, while social movements are busy forming strategies that will push the government—whether through higher royalty rates or outright nationalization—to make sure the potential profits do more than line the pockets of a few board room fat cats in the oil industry.
As stock markets tumble, plans for an alternative, regional financial framework gained new momentum among South American leaders. At a recent Summit, presidents from Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela agreed to bring the stalled Bank of the South online. They also drew up a series of integration projects and cooperation agreements.