Julia Buxton “Hugo Chávez and Venezuela: questions of leadership” http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/hugo-chavez-and-venezuela-questions-of-leadership
The political aspects of this diplomatic fallout are also significant. Alvarez and his team have built a strong network of supporters in the African-American, Native-American and progressive academic and activist communities. This has been underpinned by the successful discounted heating-fuel programme, sponsorship of cultural activities, support for academic conferences and bridge-building to US Congressional representatives. This outreach work has transformed perceptions of Venezuela among the grassroots of US society and has helped position Venezuela for a more amicable and stable relationship with the US in the event of a Barack Obama victory in November's presidential election.
The expulsion of Alvarez means that the traction behind these activities - and the opportunity to engage with the incoming team of US officials - may now be lost. In the event of a John McCain victory, the absence of ambassadorial representation will leave Venezuela ill-positioned to defend itself from an increase in political hostilities or new commercial tensions. But is this what Chávez indeed wants? A common question is the extent to which Chávez needs to recast the imperialist threat as his nemesis George W Bush reaches the end of his term.
The journey from "third-way socialism" to "socialism of the 21st century", has, like any process of major political change, been characterised by setbacks and advances. The advances have included strong improvements in wealth distribution, welfare provision and popular participation in policy and decision making. Major social and political transformation has been achieved democratically, with the electorate mandating the changes pursued in a constant cycle of elections and referenda.
But more recently it has felt like the setbacks are beginning to stack up. The president's tendency to make sudden and apparently arbitrary decisions and the failure to pay sufficient attention to domestic political challenges are beginning to erode the prospects for consolidation of the progressive achievements made to date. (…)
*1:http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20060921/1158815983 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070604/1180952185 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070605/1181007167 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070817/1187330041 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070824/1187979598 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20070906/1189061438