Has Venezuela’s Chavez Become a Chinese Puppet in Latin America?

by Gustavo Coronel

 

This article appeared in The Latin American Herald Tribune on October 10, 2011.

China is already Venezuela’s second main commercial partner and Chavez has made all efforts to tie his regime to China, what could be called the CHI-CHA connection. He has obtained from China significant amounts of cash, promises of more money to come and technical assistance, amounting to some $80 billion in the last four years.

The breakdown is as follows: $32 billion in loans, some in dollars, some in yen, not all delivered in cash; financing of $4 billion in weapons and airplanes; a promise by the Chinese to invest $40 billion in the heavy oil deposits of the Orinoco river region (not yet materialized) and some $4 billion in technical assistance in railroad, port and housing construction, as well as mining, agriculture and space technology.

Gustavo Coronel was author of the Cato Institute study “Corruption, Mismanagement and Abuse of Power in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela.”

An excellent paper by Evan Ellis (“China’s cautious Economic and Strategic Gamble in Venezuela”, China Brief, Volume XI, September 2011), states that the association with China has given Chavez much needed money, without the need to be transparent on how he manages it.

Predictably, the Chinese have increasingly demanded that Chavez acquire their products and services. Some 300,000 Chinese made electrical appliances, iceboxes and the like have been bought. Other contracts include the construction of 26,000 houses with Chinese company CITIC, a $7.5 billion railroad construction project, some $470 million in mining projects, the acquisition of commercial and military aircraft, a $500 million artificial satellite and radar equipment. According to Ellis the number of joint projects nears 140.

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Colombia: Foreign Policy in Flux

Flag of ELN.

Image via Wikipedia

In the waning days of 2010, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos issued a statement thanking Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for his “growing support in all areas, including security”. The announcement came on the heels of a decision by Caracas to extradite Nilson Alvin Teran Ferreira – aka Tulio, a leader of the Northern War Front of the National Liberation Army (ELN) – to Valledupar, the capital of Cesar Department, which shares a border with Venezuela.

This is just one of many acts of mutual cooperation between Chavez and President Santos, who took office in August 2010 after serving as Colombia’s minister of defense. Santos immediately prioritized closing the sizeable rift that had grown between Colombia and Venezuela under his predecessor, Alvaro Uribe. As recently as July 2010, Venezuela and Colombia cut diplomatic ties after Uribe formally accused Chavez of harboring Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebels in Venezuela. The accusations led to a breakdown in relations that fell squarely to Santos to resolve when he assumed the presidency in August. Continue reading

Venezuela: Chavez equates Twitter with terrorism

By Xeni Jardin at 8:46 AM February 4, 2010

After finding himself on the receiving end of widespread criticism and unfriendly hashtags on Twitter, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has announced that he now considers Twitter messages and social networking as terrorist threats. Continue reading