Bloomberg News is reporting that the Venezuelan leader (“president,” “dictator,” whatever you want to call him) will be in Moscow tomorrow for further arms purchases amounting to $2 billion. Tanks, air defense systems, Project 636 diesel submarines, Mi-28 helicopters, and airplanes make up the list of what is to be bought. This comes on top of $4.4 billion worth of Russian arms purchased since 2003, and the Russian construction of two Kalashnikov factories.
But why? Chavez says it is to defend against the U.S. and Colombia. Anti-American paranoia is common amongst Marxist wanna-be dictators, but it is unknown whether Chavez really believes his rhetoric. Perhaps the FARC (and any other terrorists or criminals Chavez takes a liking to) need fresh supplies, given their recent defeats, or Chavez is trying to increase his power by investing in the military that he hopes will defend him, while at the same time stirring up nationalism.
It’s hard to figure out. But one thing is for sure. Latin America deserves more attention, and our hopes to minimize our energy dependence cannot focus solely on the Middle East.