Hugo Nowhere

The deadlocked fight between Guatemala and Venezuela over the United Nations Security Council’s rotating Latin America seat is being reported as the latest setback for Venezuela’s far-left strongman, Hugo Chavez. In several rounds of voting, Guatemala, which has a stable government and good relations with the United States, has come out ahead by a good margin, but has yet to get the two-thirds vote required to join the Security Council. Yet Chavez’s bigger problem is brewing not at Turtle Bay, but in the world’s oil markets. Oil prices have fallen in recent weeks, and continue to do so, down to $58.73 a barrel for crude this morning. Lower commodity prices are not much of a problem for countries with strong, diversified, economies, but for corrupt petro-states it’s a different matter—especially for a regime that buys support through unsustainable levels of social spending. When the easy money stops flowing, the party’s over.