Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Cindy Sheehan Heads South

CARACAS (AFP) - Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan, mother of a US soldier killed in
Iraq, joined more than 10,000 anti-globalization activists in Caracas, where she hailed Venezuela's leftist President Hugo Chavez.

"I admire him for his resolve against my government and its meddling," said Sheehan, who gained notoriety when she camped outside US
President George W. Bush's ranch last year to protest the Iraq war. She said she hoped to meet Chavez later in the week.

Sheehan was among more than 10,000 people from across the Americas who took to the streets of the Venezuelan capital Tuesday in an anti-war protest that launched the six-day Caracas World Social Forum (WSF).

She said Venezuela's foreign ministry sponsored her visit.

Hugo Chavez remains a total puzzle to me. I fail to understand the Venezuelan caudillo's appeal to the American left. So he thumbs his nose at the U.S. and throws the lucre from oil exports around on socialist photo ops; is that really enough to make everyone get on the first thing smoking out of Miami to stand beside him? And I wonder how easy a sell he would have with his populism if the price of oil did a hard drop? I also question how much of Venezuela's oil revenue is being saved and/or invested to help the country in the long term (like Norway does with its petroleum exports). My guess is that Mr Chavez is spending a great deal of money on things like the lovely Cindy's visit, and supporting similiar leftist politicians in the region. It's too bad; the Venezuelan people deserve better than this.

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