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Osorio op ed in National Review Online
March 13, 2007
There is little the United States can do about Hugo Chavez’s undermining of democracy in Venezuela. As long as high oil prices keep subsidizing his regime, he can survive. However, there is something that can be done to counter Chavez’s efforts to throw his weight around Latin America: Improve ties with allies in the region by ratifying free-trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Peru.Despite his bluster, Chavez is an exception to a regional trend of political moderation — across the ideological spectrum. For a region where the Left was long characterized by Marxist insurgency and the Right by military dictatorship, the emergence of a democratic political center is a welcome trend. But “national liberation” nostalgia acts like Chavez can still create major headaches for Latin American democrats. Colombia, which neighbors Venezuela, has been a strong U.S. ally under the center-right government of President Alvaro Uribe. Peruvian President Alan Garcia, whose leftist policies during his presidency (1985-1990) led the country to the brink of economic collapse, has moved to the center. American policy makers should encourage such moderation. Approval of the trade deals mentioned above will do just that.
(This commentary is part of a symposium.)<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />