The focus on the back door of the United States should be wider ranging than illegal immigration. The banana republics are no more. In their stead is a burgeoning political power hidden beneath the cloak of 19th-century Latin American nationalism that is unfriendly to its northern neighbor.
While the world is focused on the monumental and heroic struggle in Iraq and Afghanistan following reports of daily Islamic terrorist violence, a vocal, popular, and well-financed challenge to democracy and regional stability is gaining power in strategically crucial Latin America. The growing Bolivarian movement led by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is a combination of Cuban-style political repression, radical populism, broad militarism, and national socialism covered in an emotional mantle associated with the name of the 19th-century hero, Simon Bolivar, who was known simply as El Libertador -The Liberator.