With the US distracted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been busy amassing a Latin American power bloc to blunt Washington’s influence. But the firebrand leader, who calls President Bush “the devil” and the US “the empire,” is receiving level-headed advice from none other than Fidel Castro, writes Jon Lee Anderson in a New Yorker profile.
The Cuban revolutionary has “a moderating influence” on Chávez, who declared a US confrontation “inevitable," explained a Venezuelan official. “Chávez is more dangerous and unpredictable than Fidel Castro,” an analyst noted. “We are going to miss Castro.” But Chávez seemed to soften during talks with Gov. Bill Richardson: “His message to me was ‘Take me seriously, and treat me better.’”