Understanding Hugo Chávez Requires More than a Few Grains of Salt

Remember when dealing with the utterances of Hugo Chávez that you should take them with a grain of salt (or twelve).

As I have frequently noted regarding the public musings of Hugo Chávez, they have to be taken with a grain (indeed, perhaps a shaker) of salt.

For example, a headline from Bloomberg yesterday noted his recent run of belligerence vis-à-vis Colombia:   Santos to Take Office Vowing Colombia Jobs as Chavez Cuts Ties, Talks War.

However, a headline in today’s El Tiempo already shows Hugo softening:  Tras el discurso de Santos, Chávez propone encuentro [“After Santos’ Speech, Chávez Proposes a Meeting”]:

“Yo estoy dispuesto a voltear la página completa y mirar hacia el futuro. Estoy dispuesto, presidente Santos”, expresó Chávez en un acto político, transmitido por la televisión estatal VTV.

[“I am ready to turn the page and look to the future.  I am ready, President Santos,” said Chávez in a statement broadcast on VTV state television.]

Further, a Reuters piece today reports: Chavez urges Colombian rebels to put down arms.

None of this is to say that Chávez  is necessarily about to become chums with Santos, but rather to note his mercurial nature and to underscore that one ought to treat both his belligerent and his pacific rhetoric  as just that, rhetoric.  Indeed, the likely behavior from the government in Caracas is almost certainly the status quo.

More to the point, while it is true that Chávez frequently engages in over the top bluster, it is extremely important to understand that that is exactly what it is:  bluster.

Indeed,  if one were to take Chávez seriously on these types of proclamations, one should have witnesses half a dozen (at least) wars between Colombia and Venezuela in the last half a decade.

Note:  translations mine.

FILED UNDER: Latin America, National Security, US Politics, World Politics, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. sam says:

    “More to the point, while it is true that Chávez frequently engages in over the top bluster, it is extremely important to understand that that is exactly what it is: bluster.”
    In this country, we refer to it as “playing to the base”.

  2. tom p says:

    As I have frequently noted regarding the public musings of Hugo Chávez, they have to be taken with a grain (indeed, perhaps a shaker) of salt.

    A shaker wouldn’t be enuf Steve, all the salt in all the oceans wouldn’t do it either I suspect.

  3. till says:

    More to the point, while it is true that Chávez frequently engages in over the top bluster, it is extremely important to understand