Media Influences Public Opinion on Venezuela But Not So Much Governments
In writing about the media’s ongoing hate-fest for Hugo Chávez, I pointed out that the major media’s reporting had been effective, in that it has convinced most consumers of the Western media – especially in the Western Hemisphere and Europe – that Venezuela suffers from a dictatorship that has ruined the country.
But there is an important sense in which it has failed. Of course it has failed to convince Venezuelans that they would be better off under a neoliberal regime, and that is one reason why Chávez and his party have won 13 of 14 elections and referenda since he was first elected in 1998. Perhaps of equal importance, it has also failed to persuade other governments that President Chávez is motivated by some kind of irrational hatred of the U.S. – as the media generally reports it. Most foreign ministries have some research capacity, and although they are influenced by major media, at the higher levels they have better information and make their own evaluations.
That is why Chávez has been able to play a significant role in the growing independence and regional integration of Latin America, despite his vilification in the media, and years of effort by the U.S. government to isolate Venezuela from its neighbors. For example, the governments that decided to form the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) – a new hemispheric organization including all countries other than the U.S. and Canada – don’t care whether the media dismisses it as “Chavez’s project.” When Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay decided to admit Venezuela as a full member of the trading bloc Mercosur, they didn’t care what the media in any of their respective countries would say about it.
Of course the left governments of Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Uruguay and others have been quite sympathetic to Chávez and see him as a very important ally. But the region has changed so much in the last 10 or 15 years that it is not only the left governments who appreciate him. Here is what one of the only remaining right-wing presidents in South America, Sebastián Piñera of Chile, said on Sunday about Chávez, in Santiago:
I want to acknowledge a President who is not with us today, but whose vision, tenacity and strength has had a profound impact on the creation of the CELAC. I refer to President Hugo Chávez, the father of this regional group that welcomes all nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, 33 in all, and which excludes only two countries on the continent: the United States and Canada. We are all hoping for you to win this battle, perhaps the toughest battle of your life, which you are doing with the same strength and courage as always, and that you regain your health and that you can return in full capacity as President of Venezuela.
Back in 2006, the New York Times ran a front-page news article with a large-type headline: “Seeking United Latin America, Chávez is a Divider.” The thesis was being pushed by the Bush State Department, and was echoed by the anti- Chávez sources cited in the article.
How completely wrong they turned out to be.
- CELAC Strengthened by Second Annual Summit (venezuelanalysis.com)
- Cuba takes over presidency of regional group Celac (morningstaronline.co.uk)
- Venezuela wants best of relations with the US based on ‘mutual absolute respect’ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Indian and Latin American cooperation
THIS year, India has shown a notable interest in increasing its economic relations with Latin American countries. Given the serious crisis in the Eurozone and the deceleration of the U.S. economy, nations south of the Rio Bravo are demonstrating greater macroeconomic stability and represent a major growing market.
For example, Brazil, the principal regional buyer of Indian products and the second-largest supplier to the country, increased imports from the Asian giant by 66.2% on the first seven months of 2012. Mexico, the second largest buyer and fourth Latin American exporter to India, raised its exports to the country by 72.1% in the first half of the year.
Other Latin American nations, essentially exporters of raw materials, also have a secure market in India at a time of financial instability. Indian business executives predict that, by 2014, bi-regional trade will be double that of 2011.
However, the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs believes that economic links with Latin America could be more developed, and thus exceed the current trade volume of $25 billion, an insufficient figure and equal to 10% of Chinese economic exchange with the region.
The Indian economy is historically based on manufactured goods and agriculture, being one of the principal world producers of sugar cane, cotton and jute. But in recent decades the country has diversified and developed into sectors such as space and aeronautics research, informatics, telecommunications, electronics, medicine, oil and natural gas.
In fact, India’s dynamic industrial development has caught the attention of companies worldwide, leading to the establishment of subsidiaries in the country, which possess a large qualified workforce.
As a member of the group of emerging economies, BRICS, together with Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, India contributes half of global economic growth. In 2011, its Gross Domestic Product grew by over 8%.
In June 2012, a ministerial representation from the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Community (CELAC) had a meeting in New Delhi with Indian government officials, during which both sides expressed a mutual interest in extending political relations and economic ones in particular. It was the first time that CELAC, comprising 33 countries in the region, had negotiated abroad as a bloc.
- Latin American Economy Expected to See More Growth in 2013 (hispanicallyspeakingnews.com)
By Raúl Zibechi* | La Journada | 26 April 2012
After the recent sixth Summit of the Americas there remains little doubt that the Latin American region has changed. It stopped being the back- yard of a decadent empire that has very little to offer save military bases and threatening fleets. The double failure of the United States, by Barack Obama in Cartagena and by Hillary Clinton the following week in Brasilia, shows the lack of constructive proposals for the region.
As Dilma Rousseff pointed out, countries of the region demand “ relations among equals,” which was interpreted by some analysts as “a rebellion against the United States.” The summit’s principal consequence is proof of US isolation and the non-existence of policies capable of attracting the region jointly as happened until the middle of the 1990s. I find five reasons for the deterioration of Washington’s relations with the entire continent, which anticipate the new scenario in formation.
The first is the double failure of the drug war and the embargo of Cuba. After the fall of the Soviet Union, Washington had to fabricate an enemy to continue forcing the militarization of international relations. Illegal drug trafficking fulfilled that function for a while, despite never being credible because it did not include a reduction of consumption in northern countries, the big consumers of illegal drugs.
Now the war against drugs lost the battle for legitimacy. The International Institute of Strategic Studies just launched a study in which it affirms that it not only failed in combating consumption and trafficking, but also the war against drugs “has created an important threat to international security” (La Jornada, April 17). Was that not perhaps the desired objective?
The second is the end of the OAS’ time and the consolidation of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) and Celac (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States), both of which exclude the United States and Canada and adjust to the new global reality. Following the already marked tendency by Unasur since 2009, Celac is rapidly becoming the organism capable of resolving the region’s problems and of tracing the direction of its sovereignty before the extra-continental powers. It can be discussed whether that is the type of integration that the Latin American peoples need, but there is no room for doubt that, whatever the path they elect, they are excluding the old property owners from the back yard.
In third place, the United States no longer is the principal trade associate of the region’s principal countries, particularly of South America, and its decreasing internal market no longer has the attraction of old nor is it in any condition to capture Latin American exports. The tendency is that China and the Asia group substitute for the role that the United States had from the beginning of the 20th Century until the 2008 crisis as the decisive trade and political ally.
Until 2005, the United States purchased 1.5 million barrels per day from Venezuela, a number that fell in 2011 to less than one million. To the contrary, Venezuelan exports to China, which were almost non-existent in 2005, climbed to almost a half million barrels per day n 2011 (Geab No. 60, December 2011). The tendency is that one market substitutes for the other.
The United States and the European Union, in fourth place, are on the way to being displaced as the principal investors in Latin America. China is the principal investor in Venezuela, the first world reserve for oil, third for bauxite, fourth reserve for gold, in sixth position in natural gas and tenth reserve of iron in the world. China also has strong investments in Argentina and Brazil, the two largest South American economies.
The second Chinese oil company, Sinopec, was interested in buying a part of Repsol in YPF for 15 billion dollars before the nationalization decided by the government of Cristina Fernández (Financial Times, April 18, 2012). Now it can expand its investments in Argentina, where it is responsible for 6 percent of the offer of crude and for 1.7 percent of gas.
The region also has endogenous capabilities for investment. The best example is the announcement of the investment of 16 billion dollars by three Brazilian companies (Petrobras, Odebrecht and Braskem) in Peru, to extract gas in Camisea, to construct a gas duct of more than a thousand kilometers toward the south and a petrochemical pole in the port city of Ilo, the first on the Pacific Coast.
In fifth place, the United States no longer is the region’s only military ally. Venezuela maintains a solid alliance with Russia, Brazil has co-operation agreements with India in aeronautics and with China in the space industry. But the most notable is the progressive integration of the region’s military industries, in other words the coupling of the South American countries with the growing Brazilian military industry.
The most notable case is the strategic alliance between Brazil and Argentina, which translates into joint development of protection, a military carrier that will substitute for the Hercules, the development of air-to-air missiles that Brazil worked on with South Africa, and unmanned planes for border vigilance. Both countries form a critical mass capable of trumping the rest to set up a regional military industry autonomous from the north.
The imminent victory of the socialist François Hollande in the French elections “will activate a series of strategic changes” that accelerate the geopolitical transitions underway, according to what the European Laboratory of Political Anticipation (Laboratorio Europeo de Anticipación Política) estimates. See: (Geab No. 54, April 17, 2012). One of the principal turns will be the formation of a Europe-BRICS strategic alliance. In some way, this alliance already started with the 2009 France-Brazil military agreement to construct submarines and attack planes. The region’s autonomization can have unexpected allies.