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Friday, November 04, 2005

Is Castro buying off Latin America?

It looks like Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is trying to buy off Latin American democracies and convert them into fellow socialist paradises, according to Investor's Business Daily:
Brazilians are rightly angry over allegations of illegal campaign donations from Fidel Castro. True or not, they coincide with an alarming weakness in foreign policy that benefits the Cuban dictator. Was there a connection? We wonder for two reasons. First, Castro in recent years has aggressively sought influence across Latin America on a scale not seen since the 1960s. Second, Brazil has been oddly passive in response.
We've already noted how Castro has cranked up pork-barrel spending in Brazil's neighbor, Bolivia, in the heat of its own presidential campaign. The largess is conditioned on votes for Castro's favored candidate, Evo Morales, who wants to nationalize Bolivia's energy. If Morales wins, the biggest victim of his expropriations will be Brazil's state oil firm, Petrobras, which supplies a major part of Brazil's economic powerhouse, the Sao Paulo region, with natural gas. Petrobras' investment is so large it makes up 20% of Bolivia's economy.
With its interests threatened, Brazil should have the diplomatic muscle to force Castro and his allies to back off. But for some reason, it's held back, choosing silence when what's required is leadership.

I know we've got some astute oil types and risk-analyst types in the crowd. What do y'all think? I know this sounds scary, but how plausible is it?

[Hat-tip: Byron]


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