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Is U.S. unease with Chavez warranted?

September 11, 2007

Re "Venezuela 'plan' for Paraguay causes an uproar," Sept. 3

Assuming that the "Annual Operating Plan 2007," which details Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's intentions to boost Venezuela's cultural and economic influence in Paraguay, is authentic, it will further bolster claims that Chavez has imperial ambitions similar to those he so fervently denounces the United States for having. Chavez realizes that the age of traditional empire, in which stronger nations exercised explicit influence over weaker ones, died with the Soviet Union. Facilitating his goal of perpetuating a "21st century socialism," he is adhering to the new rules of empire, which dictate that economic and cultural clout must take precedence over outright political domination, and that affected populations have become too smart to be easily manipulated.

That Chavez wishes to shower South America with petrodollars in an effort to raise his profile should surprise no one; if the U.S. doesn't like it, let Washington compete with Caracas for who can do the most for Paraguay.

Cassidy Rush

Washington

The writer is a research associate at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

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So Venezuela is at it again, meddling in another nation's affairs? I'm glad the United States doesn't do things like this. Besides, with "plan" in quotes, The Times tells us how it feels: The Chavez government is up to no good again with yet another half-baked scheme that excludes the United States. How could anyone even dream of going forth and planning a world without our-people-first-minded thinkers at the table?

Timothy L. Wahl

Glendale

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