Friday, March 03, 2006

Hidden Message? Reading between the lines

Yesterday the same story came out with two very different titles: Chile's Lagos Praises Chavez and Lagos: It is a mistake to "demonize" Hugo Chavez. Now before we all go lambasting Lagos for his comments, let's put this into context.

Ricardo Lagos is a very intelligent and very democratic president. He fought hard against the Pinochet dictatorship, and during his 6 years as president of Chile worked even harder to re-instate democracy across the political world, starting by ammending the constitution in order to erradicate the ammendments done by Pinochet which gave "free" political concessions to the right. Again, we have to remember that the right in Chile is aligned with the dictatorship, and that the left of lagos is more of a center.

Chile is a country that is 100% dependent on other countries for their gas supply which they consume more than electricity: gas heating, gas stove, gas water heaters, etc. This has lead to Bolivia's famed "Gas por Mar" (sea for gas) trying to blackmail Chile into giving Bolivia access to the sea, and in turn Bolivia would sell them gas. Chile gets their Bolivian gas through Argentina, who sells them their excess and is in turn consuming more, hence selling less to Chile.

Venezuela has recently discovered more gas reserves and support Bolivia in their quest for access to sea. Bolivia lost its disputed access to sea as a result of the Guerra del Pacifico, in which Bolivia and Peru went to war against Chile. Chile came out victorious, returning Peru most of its territory.

While Chile has just discovered a reserve that can supply 25% of their need, and has a plan to be able to receive liquified gas and convert it in three years, they are still living in the now.

Let's look at exactly what Lagos said with my interpretation:

“Hugo is a force of nature unleashed (no argument there) , he is a man of great charisma and I believe that his efforts to defeat poverty have led him to take a path of great participation (he feels the need to participate in Latin America, he is a meddler)….I think he has had the good luck of very elevated gas prices, which has allowed him to do what he does (if he didn't have elevated gas prices, he would be a nobody, he's riding a wave that has been granted to him)

“But I think you have to know how to understand President Chavez and take him as he is (you have to learn how to deal with him, how to not give him what he wants, how to diffuse him instead of igniting him)….When he came to Chile, at one point he said, ´Why don´t we do a radio program?’ So I said to him…the thing is that I’m more modest (I'm not an egomaniac as you that puts his image above his country)…I do radio programs that last an hour, and yours last seven.’(you talk too much, babble too much, you are tiring) He laughed a lot at that. Hugo Chavez is like that, and I think it’s an error to demonize him. (it is an error because that is what he wants, what makes him powerful. If we demonize him, we give him his ammunitation and his rhetoric. We need to defuse him)
Now, you may not agree with me, but I wholeheartedly believe this is the "entrelineas" in this message. If Stooge Chavez is demonized, his following grows. Why? Well it is no secret there is a strong anti-american undercurrent in Latin America led by Stooge Chavez. Demonizing him, gives support to his antics. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying - and I don't think Lagos is saying this either - don't pay attention. Just learn how to play his game, so we can beat him at it. Let's not be confrontational, but darle la vuelta and beat him at his own game.

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