Friday, August 20, 2004

Getting some perspective on democracy promotion in Venezuela

Rereading recent articles on Venezuela, I came across this bit from an IPS report by Jim Lobe on August 11, basically predicting the administration would have to "grit its teeth and bear" a probable Chavez victory, but otherwise making a useful comparison:

Birns [of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs], for example, noted that Washington may have provided only about four million dollars to opposition sectors, a fraction of the 20 million dollars it devoted to the campaign to get Violeta Chamorro elected president in Nicaragua, a country with only about 15 percent of Venezuela's population, in 1990.

Do the math. Four million is 20% of what the US spent on getting Chamorro elected (where he gets that figure, I don't know) in Nicaragua, a country 15% smaller than Venezuela.

By my calculations, for the two situations to be equivalent, the US would have had to have spent $133 million in Venezuela (instead of the actual $4 million) to match what it spent in Nicaragua, on a per capita basis.

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