Foreign Policy Blogs

Chavez Travels Overseas to Build Alliances “Against Imperialism”

President Hugo Chávez is on a weeklong trip overseas, to strengthen alliances in “the fight against imperialism”. His itinerary includes stops in Libya, Syria, Iran, Algeria, Belarus, and Russia. Freedom House, a US-based non-profit (and declaredly non-partisan) publishes “Freedom in the World, the annual survey of global political rights and civil liberties”. It ranked each of the countries on Chávez’s itinerary as “not free”, meaning he will meet the leaders of fully one-seventh of the 42 countries in this category. Chávez himself is not on the United States’ warm and fuzzy list, and this trip demonstrates his continued efforts to build coalitions against what he perceives as a northern aggressor.

A few days ago, the Venezuelan President was an attendee at the celebration of Moammar Gadhafi’s fourth decade in control of Libya. This came on the heels of criticism over the “hero’s welcome” Libya accorded to Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the convicted and released bomber of a Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988.

This past weekend, Chávez also met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. Their discussion of bilateral agreements included the possibility of Iranian support for a “nuclear village” in Venezeula. Chávez was quoted by CNN as stating: “Tehran and Caracas should help revolutionary nations through further expansion and consolidation of their ties.”

Al Jazeera provided further coverage of Chávez’s visits in Algeria and Syria, and Sahar Zubairy, who writes for FPA’s blog on Iran, posted a related article on Sunday, titled: “Venezuela: Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend“.

So far, this trip cannot be winning Chávez any admirers within the Obama administration. On the other hand, while he remains popular among many Venezuelans, it should not be assumed that he represents all of his countrymen (and women). In recent elections his PSUV party received just over 50% of the vote. And during my personal conversations with some Venezuelans, they expressed dismay, and even embarrassment at their president’s words and actions.



David D. Sussman

David D. Sussman is currently a PhD Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), in Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as a fellow at the Feinstein International Center, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the lives of Colombian refugees and economic migrants in Caracas, Venezuela. David has worked on a variety of migrant issues that include the health of displaced persons, domestic resettlement of refugees, and structured labor-migration programs. He holds a Masters in International Relations from the Fletcher School, where he studied the integration of Somali and Salvadoran immigrants. David has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and is fluent in Spanish. He has lived in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela, and also traveled throughout Latin America. In his free time David enjoys reading up on international news, playing soccer, cooking arepas, and dancing salsa casino. Areas of Focus: Latin America; Migration; Venezuela.