Articles by: Nikolas Kozloff
Regional elections in Venezuela on November 23 could have critical ramifications for the Bolivarian movement led by President Hugo Chávez. If the re-grouped opposition makes significant electoral gains, Chávez's long-term aspirations could be significantly complicated. The elections come at a time when dwindling oil prices and the economic crisis have created unexpected obstacles to Chávez’s ambitious foreign policy agenda.
This week the McCain team is trying to dispel the notion that Palin is a foreign policy lightweight. The Alaska Governor is slated to meet with a handful of foreign leaders during the General Assembly meeting of the United Nations. The roster of leaders chosen by the McCain camp bodes badly for U.S. foreign policy should the Republican ticket win in November.
Venezuela and Russia recently announced they will be conducting joint-naval exercises off Venezuela's Caribbean coast in November. The announcement comes amid bitter diplomatic dispute between Russia and the United States over the war in South Ossetia. The upcoming Venezuela-Russia naval exercises along with the Pentagon's recent re-deployment of its Latin America fleet have stoked fears that Latin America will once again be the stage for renewed Cold War tensions.
Since the inception of the oil industry in the early twentieth century, Venezuela has had strong cultural ties to the United States. President Hugo Chávez however has sought to change this by cultivating a sense of cultural nationalism in his country. Through this “Bolivarian Cinecittà,” Chávez seeks to spur production of films dealing with social empowerment, South American history, and Venezuelan values.
Throughout the 1980s, Republican candidate John McCain was a steadfast ally of the murderous Contra rebels trying to bring down the Sandinista Revolution in Nicaragua. During one of his trips to the Central American country, conflicting accounts of one meeting indicate McCain may have assaulted an unknown Sandinista official. If an obscure video taken of the meeting should surface, and confirms the incident, then it could sway the presidential election against the Arizona Senator.
Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution has hit some snags at home and abroad. Five years ago, President Chávez seemed unstoppable, but his regional political bloc has started to flounder and his attempt to overhaul Venezuela's constitution was defeated. The outcome of the next U.S. presidential election could determine whether Chávez is able to regain lost momentum.
The Republican nominee's campaign team is packed with lobbyists of the oil industry and the Arizona Senator himself has been a reliable friend to the oil industry, leading him to support bloody U.S. military interventions in Iraq and Colombia to keep his friends at several oil companies happy. Under a potential McCain administration, the United States would remain the belligerent policeman of the world's oil fields.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama likes to employ soaring rhetoric when discussing human rights. But he has failed to take a strong position opposing the infamous School of the Americas, which trains Latin American militaries. When pressed, the candidate praised Congress’ revision of the school’s curriculum but said that he wanted to continue to evaluate the institution.
While it’s still unclear what kinds of policies Obama might pursue towards South America if he's elected president, his mere presence in the White House would have enormous emotional and symbolic value, particularly in Brazil, a country whose African roots are strong but where many blacks still struggle against racism and discrimination.