At this hour, the leftist leaders of Argentina and Brazil are meeting with the populist-radicals who run Venezuela and Bolivia.
Topic of discussion: The nationalization by Evo Morales, an Aymara Indian and the first indigenous president in Bolivian history, of the international gas companies operating in his country. Morales' troops, to the cheers of Caracas' Hugo Chavez, invaded the offices of the companies this week and carted off the books.
Auditors in La Paz are poring over them now to expose the deals between the energy companies and past Bolivian regimes.
Meanwhile, the 82-18 split of gas royalties between the energy companies and the regime, which became 50-50 a year ago, is now 82-18 in favor of the government -- on Morales' orders. And that will be the end of new investment in gas exploration in Bolivia.
As it is Brazil that is dependent on Bolivian gas for half its daily consumption and Brazil's Petrobras that has the biggest stake in the Bolivian gas fields, why should Morales' action concern us?
Several reasons. Morales, like Chavez, represents a radicalism that has rising appeal in Latin America and is both anti-American and anti-capitalist. Chavez is offering the Latin Americans a "Bolivarian Alternative" to the Free Trade Association of the Americas backed by the United States. The idea has great appeal among the masses.
Not only do the radicals now control Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, they have allies -- Ollanta Humala in Peru, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Lopez Obrador in Mexico -- reaching for power.
Ortega is the Marxist Sandinista nemesis of Ronald Reagan in the 1980s who is now favored to win the presidency. Obrador is the former mayor of Mexico City who was running first in the polls for the presidency, but has begun to slip as Vicente Fox's PAN has been tying him to Hugo Chavez.
But Ollanta Humala is the most arresting figure. Here is how the New York Times editorial, "Peru's Looming Disaster," describes him:
"Peru may elect the most dangerous leader yet. Last month Ollanta Humala, a military man whose family advocates the shooting of gays, Jews and Chilean investors, came in first in presidential elections. Since Mr. Humala did not get 50 percent, there will be a runoff on (June 4).
"More bad news: The other candidate will be Alan Garcia, a spectacularly irresponsible and corrupt president in the late 1980s who wrecked Peru's economy and presided over the commission of widespread war crimes. ...
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