More of the same

To no one's surprise, Hugo Chavez has been reelected to a six-year term as president of Venezuela.  It looks as if oil traders have already priced in this development, since oil prices actually fell a bit today.  Any hopes that Venezuela will open up the spigots will be in vain.  With his insistence on shutting out foreign oil firms of any meaningful role, Venezuela's oil industry has become so mismanaged and decripit that the country can't even meet its own OPEC production quotas.

But is this the reason Team Bush gets in such a lather over Chavez?  I don't see it.  Yes, he fancies himself the leader of a leftist movement across Latin America, but his influence has had as much failure as success (he did Lopez Obrador no favors in Mexico), and his successes are limited (Correa in Ecuador has gone to considerable lenghths to emphasize he's his own man, and Morales in Boliva's already backtracking on some of his more nutty ideas).  Indeed, what success Chavez has lies mostly in being the most vocal opponent of Bush.

I suspect the real reason Team Bush worries about Chavez is that he's a somewhat popular figure next door in Colombia, home to the most U.S.-friendly government in that part of the world.  In other words, Chavez might possess some potential to undermine the War on Drugs.  But I don't see how Chavez could possibly undermine something that's such a dismal failure to begin with.