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What We See in Hugo Chávez

THE fervent welcome that greeted President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela during his visit to Argentina a week ago was inexplicable to some Argentines and left others indignant. Many here tend to mistrust populism and demagoguery, finding them redolent of Peronism. But even among the wary, a window of hope has opened, with Mr. Chávez as its symbol.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Juan Perón’s time. And it was the expansive waters of our own broad river that defined the vectors of force last weekend. For once, the tensions in the American hemisphere flowed on an east-west axis along the Río de la Plata — which means “River of Silver” and by extension, very appropriately in this case, “River of Money.”

The struggle was about energy, both concrete and metaphorical, and equally combustible in both forms. Across the river in Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo, the presence of President George W. Bush caused red-hot passions to flare, along with sizable protests like those he faced in Brazil. In Buenos Aires, my city, on the opposite bank of that river of money, red abounded as well, though in our case it had a very different connotation. Red was the color of President Chávez’s jacket and of many of the flags brought by the masses who flooded into a stadium to hear the president of Venezuela speak.

Go to the full op/ed here.


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