Let him have it

Katy Says: The U.N. Security Council renews five of its ten non-permanent members each year. Latin America has traditionally held two of those seats, the current members being Argentina and Peru. Argentina’s term expires December 31st of this year, and guess who wants to take its place? Why our very own Hugo Chávez, of course.

Nobody seems to be paying attention to this, but the Chavez government has been lobbying intensively for the seat, with Guatemala as the other candidate. The lobbying has been in the best chavista tradition: vulgar, laden with overheated rhetoric and very indiscreet. Venezuela’s Ambassador to Chile Víctor Delgado went out of his way to request Chile’s support in exchange for Venezuela’s support for Chile’s candidate to head the OAS, current Secretary General José Miguel Insulza.

I say: let him have it.

It is no secret why Chávez wants to go to the Security Council. In a year where the UN is bound to discuss sensitive topics such as Iran and North Korea, Chávez wants to be heard. His sympathy for rogue states like Iran, Zimbabwe and Cuba is not even up for discussion: Venezuela routinely votes in favor of those governments whenever issues arise in international fora. And Chávez’s well-known penchant for flamboyant rhetoric and embarassing postures in international stages lures him to the very high-profile Security Council like light lures a moth.

Thing is, the Security Council is really managed by the five countries with veto power: the U.S., France, the U.K., Russia and China. The rest are there mostly for show. Chavez couldn’t do much damage in the Security Council; certainly, he wouldn’t have many friends there to help support Iran’s nuclear weapons program and other nonsense. Venezuela’s presence in the body would end up being all show and no substance, much like the government itself. But Venezuelan hystrionics in such a high-profile forum would shine a very bright, worldwide spotlight on Chavez’s unique brand of intolerant extremism. To give Chavez a seat on the security council would be to give him just enough rope to hang himself.

And if getting the seat means Venezuela has to cash in its chips for all the favors it has spread around the continent, all the better. Chávez seems to want payback from the region – if he gets it, other Latin American countries may feel less obliged to pay lip service to El Loco when substantive discussions come up, for instance, on the dire state of Venezuelan democracy or human rights.

The OAS is bound to keep Venezuela on its agenda this year, what with electoral prospects getting increasingly worse and a new Presidential “election” coming up. Venezuelan democracy would be greatly favored if Latin American countries did not feel indebted to Chávez for his many favors. Getting him that coveted Security Council spot may just be a way to get this monkey off their back.