Washington may soon be persuaded by U.S. rightwingers to respond to the nationalization of Bolivia’s petrol industry (…) White House hardliners (…) see Evo Morales’ action as a clear sign of a dangerous growth in Hugo Chávez’s influence (…)
Geopolitically, Morales must also be attuned to the needs and concerns of other regional leaders. Lula and Kirchner’s opinions, whose countries previously received preferential pricing on Bolivian gas, cannot be easily discounted. Both leaders are concerned with ensuring their country’s energy supplies, and for Lula, finding a path between keeping industrialists dependent on gas imports happy and maintaining the ghost of his leftist credentials will be crucial for his reelection (…)
Some in Washington, who comprise the ideological heart of the anti-Chávez crusade, have taken the nationalization as a sign that the Bush administration, distracted by Iraq, has thus failed to effectively contain Caracas’ spreading influence and that Washington is in real danger of losing Latin America. The nationalization’s high media profile could force the State Department to take a tough approach to the region, even to the point of mobilizing the CIA and the U.S. military, but it is more likely to work its way by undermining the all-important chink (weakness) in the armor: the Latin American armed forces.