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Roundtable Forum - HUGO CHAVEZ

IA Forum asks: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was recently granted authority to legislate by decree for 18 months, and he is seeking an amendment to the constitution to allow a president to be elected for a lifetime. Given his fierce rhetoric and Venezuela's oil wealth, does Chavez pose a threat to regional stability and if so, how should his critics, including the Bush administration, respond? (03/31/2007)

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Dr Kirk Bowman, Georgia Tech

Response: Both critics and supporters have fundamentally misunderstood the role and influence of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. Chávez’s threat to regional stability has been greatly exaggerated and the Bush Administration’s responses have largely served, at least since 2002, to enhance Mr. Chávez’s image and to weaken support for the United States from its many natural allies in the region. US respons... more

Gustavo Coronel, commentator

Response: Hugo Chavez’s power is based upon two main components: resources and strategy. The resource side of this equation depends in oil income. The strategy component has been largely provided by Jose Vicente Rangel, his main political operator and Fidel Castro, who has guided him along the path to convert Venezuela into a socialist state and transform him, from the obscure Hugo Chavez of the 1990’s, int... more

Dr. William Ratliff, Hoover Institute

Response: Earlier this month George Bush and Hugo Chavez, between them, shuttled through ten Latin American countries, large and small. Though Bush’s team wouldn’t admit it, his trip was obviously (and finally) inspired by the expansion of Chavista authoritarian populism in Latin America. Bush never mentioned Chavez by name, while the Venezuelan focused entirely on Bush the ’cadaver’ and representative of a... more

Richard Lapper, Financial Times

Response: Since President Hugo Chávez’s latest election victory early in December Venezuela has been moving much more quickly in the direction of what its leader calls “21st century socialism”. Mr Chávez had signalled his intentions during the campaign, when he had talked about entering a new stage of the Bolivarian Revolution, named in homage to Simon Bolívar, the leader of Latin America’s nineteenth centu... more

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