A guest blog, by La empanada, on Hugo Chavez, a propos of the furore over Pat Robertson's remarks.

First, I don't want to appear to be defending Chavez, who I feel ambivalent about. It annoys me that everyone makes sweeping generalisations one way or the other about Chavez, and it is just not that simple. He's not a goody OR a baddy, to either side.

Is he a communist? No, he doesn't exactly fit in any single political paradigm, but why does it matter to the U.S. at this point if he redistributes land (badly, most of the time, to be honest)? It's not as if he's implementing gulags or executing opponents.

Is he a threat to the United States? He's in control of an oil-producing country, which has consequences for the world's biggest oil guzzler. He is anti-U.S., and allies with other anti-US states. This is hardly surprising given there's already been one U.S.-backed attempted coup against him.

Could Venezuela be a haven for Islamic terrorists? It's unlikely, but not impossible. Made more likely by statements like Robertson's, which increase the whole 'with us or against us' polarisation of the world. I don't think Islamic terrorists need South America when they've got so many other countries to go. And I think they have their own networks to get guns and money. Although it's always possible that anti-U.S. solidarity could link them in to marxists. But I don't see Chavez giving them guns - that's more common with other armed groups.

Robertson is making anti-U.S. feeling worse with his comments. People around the world will take them as a representation of the U.S. government stance, and will be angry and upset at the hypocrisy of a state that promotes 'democracy' while being prepared to assassinate foreign leaders in its own interests.

Do I know enough to be commenting on this? Not really.

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