Hugo Chavez on Obama and the 'Recalcitrant Right'

Last week, I had the opportunity to interview Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez during his visit to NY to speak at the United Nations General Assembly. We touched on many topics -- his relationship with Barack Obama and Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the Honduran crisis, the seven military bases the Pentagon is currently expanding in Colombia, and the successes and failures of his domestic policies. But one theme that Chávez wove through the entire interview was the resurgence of the "transnational Right" -- or what he calls the recalcitrant right. He notes the irony of the fact that the US right is currently using much of the same rhetoric and tactics that the Latin American right has used to attack not just him, but Bolivian president Evo Morales and the recently deposed Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya. "The right here is scared that Obama is awakening a popular current in the people of the US," he said, "and they are trying to stop it. Where it is going to wind up, who knows?" He also touched on the way Venezuela gets used in the US to criticize Obama, to try to push him further to the right on foreign-policy issues, noting that after the Summit of the Americas held earlier this year, the US president was attacked "just for saying hello" to him. "It's irrational." The Venezuelan president believes that what the right fears most about Obama is his attempt to rehabilitate the idea that "public policy" can solve social problems, as opposed to the market. "The progressive community of the United States needs to support Obama to achieve change," he says, "and then it has to demand more change, and more change, and more change."

You can read the complete interview at The Nation.