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An example of independent foreign policy in Latin America

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez challenges the US through cooperation agreements with Russia, China and Iran.

Pursuing the national interest of his country, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has proved that it is possible to lead an independent foreign policy in Latin America. Challenging US long running interests in the region, Caracas has pushed forward cooperation agreements with Russia, Iran and China, opposed to the Washington fuelled Free Trade Area of the Americas and worked hard toward regional integration with Brazil and Argentina.

Last week, Chavez predicted that Venezuela's trade with China will reach nearly 3bn next year, thanks to a series of commercial deals reached during talks with Chinese leaders. A separate article published by PRAVDA.Ru earlier this month explains the level of economical and military cooperation Caracas reached with Russia after Chavez met President Putin in Moscow. In Teheran, Chavez signed new agreements on oil & gas exploration to develop new wells in Venezuela.

True, the leftist leader has an advantage in comparison with his regional counterparts: Venezuela is world’s fifth oil exporter and oil prices are at its highest levels in decades. However, it is not a matter of oil, as his detractors usually say. At the worst of its internal crisis, during a failed coup in April 2002 and the subsequent two months lock out, Venezuela firmly stood by a multilateral world order.

An outspoken critic of the US, Chavez has said he aims at being part of a movement for a "multipolar" world, rather than one dominated by a superpower. This view moved him closer to Russia, Brazil, China, Germany and France, rather than to those nations that do not see feasible to shift for a more democratic way of handling global affairs.

But Chavez is not a campaigning to build up trade and political ties with new diplomatic partners in a philanthropic mood. His foreign policy intends to meet the needs of Venezuela’s development.

Why should Chavez modernize his military with expensive second hand US weaponry, if Russia is able to provide Venezuela with better equipment at lower prices? Why should Chavez sign oil cooperation contracts with US enterprises, if those companies will file legal demands in a Houston court to solve a trade dispute about exploration in the Maracaibo Lake?

Washington has repeatedly expressed its “concern” on Chavez moves. But, what's wrong here? A rational foreign policy aimed to meet national needs, or the US standards? In a bilateral deal, a win to win policy must prevail. However, Washington is used to “I win, you lose” imperialistic agreements. But that was in the seventies, when it had bloody puppet dictators ruling according to its interests in Latin America. Democracies are harder to handle.

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