May 13, 2006


The more you think about the revolution's trade policy, the less sense it makes. On the one hand, we hear Chavez attack any country that considers a Free Trade Agreement with the US in the crudest of terms. On the other, we see Venezuela's bilateral trade with the US skyrocketing. Why? Because our one big export product already has tariff-free access to the US market...

In fact, Venezuela already has a kind of de facto, rough and ready FTA with the US. Our major export product faces no market access issues up north. Under those circumstances, it's enormously fresh for Chavez to go aggro on any country that seeks to secure similar market access for its main export products via negotiations. No matter - petty political advantage is to be had, and Chavez is not minded to pass up any opportunity in that regard.

In fact, the La Paz-Caracas-Havana Juggernut's discourse on trade is as confused as confused can be. Think of the Cuba angle. For 45 years Fidel has been blaming any and every problem on the island on the US trade embargo. In official, fidelista discourse, then, it's the absence of trade with the US that makes countries poor. Ummmm...shouldn't Fidel be the hemisphere's number 1 fan of bilateral FTAs with the gringos, then!?

Nah, the cookie doesn't quite crumble that way. The Axis of Evo's guiding political principle is far cruder than that: whatever the US wants must be bad, whatever the US doesn't want must be good. They don't like free trade with Cuba? Free trade with Cuba must be wonderful! They do like free trade with Colombia? Free trade with Colombia must be the road to perdition!