Loory: Hugo Chavez rose to power by beating an ex-Miss Universe for Venezuela’s presidency in 1998. He embarked on a campaign that was strongly anti-U.S. and anti-free private enterprise. He wanted to take control of the oil industry, in which the state already had a huge but not controlling interest. Chavez said he wanted to use the profits to overcome poverty in Venezuela. He has been only partially successful. There has been little trickledown, but Chavez has used huge amounts of his country’s oil profits to spread anti-U.S. socialism in Latin America. In Argentina, he has guaranteed billions of dollars in loans to help that country pay off debts from a credit crisis that almost brought it into bankruptcy. He has helped Evo Morales, Bolivia’s president, nationalize the natural gas industry and write a new constitution. He has given medical assistance to Nicaragua’s poor and has traded energy for doctors with Cuba. He has formed a new development bank for Latin America, in competition with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Chavez has founded TeleSUR, a television news network, to counter U.S. news organizations like CNN and Voice of America. In short, he seems to be trying to set himself up as a successor to Fidel Castro, as the anti-U.S. leader in the Western Hemisphere. What exactly is Chavez trying to accomplish in Latin America, and is he succeeding?
Anti-U.S. socialism in Latin American led by Venezuela’s president
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