Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been busy courting countries from Latin America to Eastern Europe to the Middle East to the Far East to assemble a political and economic bulwark against American imperialism.

In attempt to determine how serious Chavez is, freelance journalist Joshua Kucera traveled to Caracas to speak with political figures, analysts and diplomats allied with and opposed to the president. Because of U.S. support for groups that Chavez blames for much of Venezuela’s past troubles –like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund — “Step one,” Kucera confirmed, “is knocking the United States off its perch.”

Toward that and other ends, Chavez has thrown his full weight into the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas, a trade-bloc alternative to the U.S.-backed free trade group, which is focused on poverty reduction rather than investment and commerce. Meanwhile, he has maintained associations with the heads of less savory regimes, such as the recently deposed Hosni Mubarak and Moammar Gadhafi. — ARK

The Wilson Quarterly:

Meanwhile, Chávez has been creating an alliance of like-minded neighbors in Latin America, which are also building their own ties with Russia and Iran. “Today Venezuela is accompanied by true friends,” Chávez said in 2009. “They range from large countries like China, Russia, and Iran, to smaller countries in size but big in solidarity, like Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Bolivia, among others.” Nicaragua and Ecuador are also on the list of friends.

In Washington and other capitals, there is much speculation about what Chávez really intends to do with these new alliances. Are his foreign-policy moves, as he claims, the first steps in creating a post-capitalist world order independent of the United States and oriented toward justice rather than corporate profit? Or do they have the makings of a Cold War reprise, leading us toward bloc-on-bloc geopolitical struggle (complete with the potential for a rerun of the Cuban Missile Crisis)? Or are they neither, amounting to little more than self-aggrandizing speeches and photo ops?

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