Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Chavez Jumps the Shark

A few months ago Hugo Chavez was on the rise in Latin America. He busted his way into Mercosur, turned former allies against the US, flirted with North Korea and Iran, and generally fomented leftist revolution in the Americas. Now it looks like he's yesterday's news.

Today it looks like he'll fall short in his goal to win a spot on the UN Security Council. If he does indeed fail, then John Bolton will have done the UN a great service by keeping the Security Council from being the same sort of laughing stock that the General Assembly has become.

Meanwhile, back in Latin America, the conservative Felipe Calderon defeated Chavez's candidate in Mexico's Presidential race. Chavez's chief regional rival - Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva - appears on track to win re-election in Brazil. His candidate in Ecuador's Presidential race is looking very weak against his conservative opponent. And his candidate in Peru was defeated by a US ally.

And in what might be the most alarming development for Hugo, he may actually have to take domestic opposition to his re-election bid seriously - at least, if the huge rallies in support of his opponent are to be believed.

Just a few months ago, the dominant story in Latin America was the return of leftist populism. Now it looks like Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega may represent Chavez's only opportunity to salvage his reputation, in what was supposed to be a banner year for him.

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