United Nations: A Bitter Defeat for Chávez

United Nations: A Bitter Defeat for ChávezThree things are clear regarding Venezuela’s campaign to land a seat on the United Nations Security Council. First and foremost, flamboyant President Hugo Chávez has lost: after dropping 34 out of 35 votes in a head-to-head match against Guatemala (only tying in one of the first straw polls), he will not be able to chair his country’s delegation in the Council chamber, where he recently declared George W. Bush a devil not so much in disguise. Even though Guatemala may not be elected either, the country has consistently won between 20 and 30 votes more than Venezuela and is unlikely to lose them now. Almost certainly, a compromise candidate—Uruguay, Panama, Costa Rica—will eventually be elected. Second, Chávez will do all he can to stall that moment until after Dec. 3—the date of Venezuela’s presidential election. It won’t be easy, but isn’t impossible. In 1979, Cuba and Colombia dueled for more than 150 ballots until both finally declined in favor of Mexico. And Chávez has good reason to drag matters out. Although he leads by a comfortable margin in polls back home, the sole opposition candidate, Manuel Rosales, is closing the gap. In the past few months Chávez has jetted around the world, doling out oil and cash in return for the promise of votes. The last thing he wants is to be accused of having wasted tens of millions of dollars, if not more, in vain. Lastly, but perhaps most important, this is Chávez’s first real defeat, domestically or abroad. He invested much of his personal reputation in his country’s bid, casting the vote as a referendum on his view of the world versus that of the Bush administration. Yet despite his recent antics in the U.N. chamber, or thanks to them, the Venezuelan leader was unable even to beat out even tiny Guatemala. Ultimately, Chávez may end up regretting that he tried.

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