Friday, August 20, 2004

The NYTimes > Americas: Chávez Victory: A Blow to the Bush Administration

The New York Times > International > Americas > The Chá:vez Victory: A Blow to the Bush Administration:
"The United States long ago threw its lot in with an opposition movement that is being discredited by foreign diplomats and many Venezuelans for insisting that fraud took place when the preponderance of evidence indicates it did not.

The United States has also provided money to groups like S?mate, which violated elections norms early on Monday by distributing results of a survey of voters leaving the polls that showed Mr. Ch?vez losing by a wide margin. Mr. Ch?vez seized on this financing of anti-government groups, channeled through the National Endowment for Democracy, to whip his supporters into an anti-American frenzy.

'The United States is stuck in a time warp,' said Riordan Roett, director of Latin American studies at The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. 'It is using tools from the cold war, when money from the National Endowment for Democracy was useful in funding anti-Communist movements.'"

The United States policy has largely been out of step with the rest of the region. Washington has been unable to grasp the widespread reaction against free market changes across Latin America, changes now being rolled back by left-leaning leaders. In Venezuela, the United States has operated on the presumption that Mr. Chávez's opponents had more support, clearly underestimating that most Venezuelans would vote to keep him in office.

"It's not that the U.S. is not paying attention, it's that their calculation and strategy was wrong," said Eduardo Gamarra, a Bolivian who is director of the Latin America and Caribbean Center at Florida International University in Miami. "And it's been wrong because it's been based on the false assumption that Chávez is not popular, on the false assumption that he's a dictator."

After Mr. Chávez's resounding win, the Bush administration set itself apart from the rest of the region, calling on the Venezuelan government's electoral board to "allow a transparent audit," though international monitors pronounced the election free and fair. On Tuesday, Mr. Ereli, the State Department spokesman, dodged questions from reporters about why the United States was not congratulating Mr. Chávez.
con·cept: The NYTimes > Americas: Chávez Victory: A Blow to the Bush Administration