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The Bear and the Caudillo

Russia is feeding a dangerous arms buildup in Venezuela.

12:00 AM, Oct 1, 2009 • By JAIME DAREMBLUM
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Chávez is a leftist, but also a militarist--a self styled caudillo similar to prior Latin American despots. He has repeatedly threatened the conservative, pro-U.S. government in Bogotá, and has bitterly denounced Washington's plans to expand U.S. military activities in Colombia. His stockpiling of advanced weaponry poses a very real threat to regional stability, and it would not be happening without Moscow's assistance. Thanks to Russian arms sales, Chávez is now in a stronger position to consolidate his dictatorship at home and provide military support to anti-democratic, pro-Chávez governments and terrorist groups elsewhere in Latin America.

Jaime Daremblum, who served as Costa Rica's ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2004, is Senior Fellow and director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Hudson Institute.