To many on Wall Street, the US State Department, and the IMF, the specter of Ché Guevara and past legions of bearded, bandana-wearing commandantés is haunting Latin America. Not without reason. Left-leaning military officers have been on a roll lately. But another ghost haunts the continent: economic ignorance about Latin America in the capitals of the West.
Brazil's new President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was elected with the same great expectations that brought the ex-paratrooper and coup leader Hugo Chávez to power in Venezuela three years ago. But it would be unwise to paint President Lula as a dangerous populist just because his political base resembles that of the wayward Chávez.