If cancer revokes President Hugo Chavez’s mandate for indefinite rule in Venezuela, it will leave leadership of the radical-left, anti-liberty Bolivarian Alliance (ALBA) in Latin America up for grabs. New faces will inevitably emerge.
Chavez’s vice president, the uncharismatic Nicolas Maduro, will most likely runVenezuela in the near future, backed by the legacy of Chavez’s Bolivarian Revolution and oil bonanza.
Another contender is Ecuador’s Rafael Correa. The 49-year-old Correa scored an electoral knockout punch on February 17, winning another four-year term in office with big gains for the Alianza Pais party in the legislature. He did so, notes The Washington Post, with abundant electoral spending—Ecuador has oil, too—and by muzzling the free press.
From closing the U.S.-operated anti-drug air base, the Manta Forward Operating Location, to conniving with Colombian narco-terrorists to unceremoniously expelling a U.S. ambassador in 2011 to boycotting the April 2012 Summit of the Americas in order to protest the absence of Cuba to offering political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Correa has reveled in being a thorn in the U.S. side. Correa has firmly embraced deeper ties with the ayatollahs of Iran. He is a leather-lunged cheerleader for the “Yankee Go Home” strategy that is the stock and trade of ALBA. And, never mind that Correa wants the U.S. to renew special trade preferences later this year.
The anti-liberty party of Chavez, the Castros in Cuba, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, and others will continue to focus on polarizing and radicalizing their societies by targeting retreating elites, pulverizing the political opposition, curbing free debate, and hounding dissent while exerting an ever-wider authoritarian grip over political and economic life.
Given the advanced age of the Castros and Chavez’s health issues, the radical left inLatin Americais entering a period of uncertainty. Without Chavez’s personality and oil-backed support, the Bolivarian movement might sputter. Still some in the radical clique see in the recently re-elected Correa the potential to refurbish the anti-liberty brand with fire and conviction if Chavez goes down.