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Martín Santiváñez Vivanco , researcher of the Navarra Center for International Development of the University of Navarra

The Bolivarian revolution and the Baltazar feast

Mon, 17 Dec 2012 15:28:21 +0000 Published in The World

Chávez's speech announcing the return of cancer also aimed at enumerating what his followers consider the "most important achievements of the revolution". Chavismo cannot be understood without the Bolivarian drive. Two hundred years ago, the Liberator had in mind to build a great unity of political and normative balances. This unity materialized in the precarious institutional building of Gran Colombia and, paradoxically, in the partition of Peru and Bolivia. The whole Bolivarian policy is based on the idea of equilibrium: to create spaces capable of mutually annulling each other, fostering a yearning for superior cohesion by virtue of the Pan-American principle. Such an indicative utopia (solidary countries united by idealistic motives) very soon turned into anarchy. Bolivar, before his death, was aware of the dangers faced by the nations that his gigantic will helped to liberate: "I have commanded for twenty years and from them I have only obtained few certain results [...] America is ungovernable [...] He who serves a revolution plows in the sea".

Chávez has followed the Bolivarian path encouraging, as he points out in his "speech of the full moon", the consolidation of regional spaces based on political voluntarism. Thus, the emergence of ALBA, UNASUR, MERCOSUR and the successive strategic alliances of Venezuela with Russia, China and Iran, although on paper they aspire to build an efficient economic structure, at bottom they respond to the political diktat of césaro-chavismo. Thus, the old voluntarist error of the Liberator is being reproduced again, with a substantial difference: this time, the expenses, unequally distributed in the past among the young republics, are today largely assumed by a petro-State that compromises its future by exporting the revolution.

Integration processes are not built on political will alone. In fact, the ideological bias of these supranational spaces has been detrimental to their performance. If the leadership of the Comandante is compromised, if the Baltazar feast that has characterized Chavism during these years ceases, the ALBA, UNASUR and MERCOSUR processes will have to be redefined. UNASUR may be co-opted by other less radical partners. MERCOSUR would continue to be influenced and vetoed by Brazil. But ALBA, the quintessence of the chavista continental project , will have to face the serious dilemma of who pays the bills.

Because chavismo at plenary session of the Executive Council, before continuing to export the model, has before it the imperative of the internal front. And in that existential dilemma, not in the Latin American expansion, lies the future of its probable subsistence.