• Look at Hugo Chavez Through a Latin American Lens

    by Alejandro Velasco

    Hugo Chavez during a state visit to Guatemala. Credit: Agência Brasil.Few would contest that Hugo Chávez had a penchant for fiery rhetoric. Less understood is the role that rhetoric played in turning Latin America from a region where the United States held unparalleled sway when he first took office in 1999, to one where leftist governments of varied stripes now assert unprecedented autonomy vis-à-vis their neighbor to the north.

  • Greg Grandin: The Legacy of Hugo Chávez

    Greg Grandin teaches history at New York University and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His most recent book, Fordlandia, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history.I first met Hugo Chávez in New York City in September 2006, just after his infamous appearance on the floor of the UN General Assembly, where he called George W. Bush the devil. “Yesterday, the devil came here,” he said, “Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of.” He then made the sign of the cross, kissed his hand, winked at his audience and looked to the sky. It was vintage Chávez, an outrageous remark leavened with just the right touch of detail (the lingering sulfur!) to make it something more than bombast, cutting through soporific nostrums of diplomatese and drawing fire away from Iran, which was in the cross hairs at that meeting.The press of course went into high dudgeon, and not just for the obvious reason that it’s one thing for opponents in the Middle East to call the United States the Great Satan and another thing for the president of a Latin American country to personally single out its president as Beelzebub, on U.S. soil no less.

  • Hugo Chávez of Venezuela dies

    CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela died Tuesday afternoon after a long battle with cancer, the government announced, leaving behind a bitterly divided nation in the grip of a political crisis that grew more acute as he languished for weeks, silent and out of sight in hospitals in Havana and Caracas.His departure from a country he dominated for 14 years casts into doubt the future of his socialist revolution. It alters the political balance in Venezuela, the fourth-largest foreign oil supplier to the United States, and in Latin America, where Mr. Chávez led a group of nations intent on reducing American influence in the region.Mr. Chávez changed Venezuela in fundamental ways, empowering and energizing millions of poor people who had felt marginalized and excluded.But Mr. Chávez’s rule also widened society’s divisions. His death is sure to bring more changes and vast uncertainty as the nation tries to find its way without its central figure....

  • Nathan Gardels: Oliver Stone on Wall Street, Gordon Gekko, and Hugo Chávez

    Oliver Stone is the director of some of Hollywood’s most famous films, from “Platoon” to “Wall Street” to “JFK.” Last week he sat down in the Los Angeles offices of his production company, IXTLAN, to talk with Global Viewpoint Network editor Nathan Gardels about his recent documentary, “South of the Border,” and his upcoming release, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”"South of the Border"Nathan Gardels: As you show in your recent documentary, “South of the Border,” US diplomacy and the American media have reacted with general hostility to the empowerment of the poor and indigenous in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay and, to some extent, in Brazil. Why is that?Oliver Stone: I suppose it comes from the old imperial impulse of the US toward Latin America going back to the Monroe Doctrine, Teddy Roosevelt, the protection of American business interests, and support for military dictators throughout the cold war. The US remains hostile to anyone on the left coming to power in their “backyard,” anyone who thinks the resources of a country belong to its people.

  • An End to Interventionism in Venezuela

    by Nikolas Kozloff

    With the Dec. 3 presidential election in oil-rich Venezuela, the time has come for an overhaul of the Bush administration's catastrophic policy in that South American country. The U.S. channeling of millions of dollars to Venezuelan organizations, many of which are critical of President Hugo Chavez's regime, is hugely destabilizing and will foster great acrimony and distrust between the two nations. U.S. meddling has stirred up resentment left over from April 2002 when Chavez was briefly overthrown in a coup. Prior to the coup, U.S. policymakers met with the plotters and funneled money to the opposition through the U.S. taxpayer-funded National Endowment for Democracy. Chavez has accused his electoral opponent, Manuel Rosales, the governor of the western state of Zulia, of fostering a separatist movement, together with "Mr. Danger" (Chavez's name for President Bush). The Venezuelan attorney general has initiated an investigation to determine whether one right-wing organization is guilty of treason. The group, Rumbo Propio ("Our Own Path"), has placed banners in oil-rich Zulia state advocating regional separation.