|Asunto:||[redluzargentina] U.S. - Latin American relations|
|Fecha:||Domingo, 23 de Enero, 2005 10:26:45 (-0600)|
|Autor:||Anahuak Home <redanahuak @...............mx>
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2005 17:01:44 -0600
To: Foro Economia Alternativa <email@example.com>
Subject: [economialternativa] U.S. - Latin American relations
From: elizabeth palm <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 2005 17:29:08 -0600
To: Ricardo G Ocampo <email@example.com>
Subject: U.S. - Latin American relations
The Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Less of the Same: Lackluster U.S.-Latin American Relations to continue
Second Bush Administration
Yesterday George W. Bush officially began his second term in office and
those familiar with U.S.-Latin American relations have little hope for
improved ties between Washington and its traditional “backyard.” Ever since
the attacks of September 11, 2001, the region has been all but forgotten as
the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have consumed U.S. resources and
Little is likely to change with the coming confirmation of super hawk and
Sovietologist Condoleezza Rice, who has uttered scarcely a word on Latin
America, as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s replacement. Here is a look
what the Bush administration has done in Latin America during the last four
years and what to expect during the next four.
Powell and the Haiti Situation
By belatedly introducing U.S. and foreign forces into Haiti following the
February 29, 2004 ousting of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Washington
guaranteed that Haiti’s deeply scarred society is unlikely to easily
recuperate from the wounds inflicted on it by foreign and domestic
including the bankrupt current interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue’s
government. Of all those who played a role in bringing down Aristide’s
constitutional rule, outgoing Secretary of State Powell’s reputation is
likely to be tarnished. In effect, he willingly became the captive of the
Bush administration’s obsessive right-wing ideologues—the fateful sons of
former Senator Jesse Helms—led by Assistant Secretary of State Roger
and former White House aide Otto Reich. Reich and Noriega saw U.S.-Latin
American relations almost exclusively through the prism of full-time Havana
bashing. If a Latin American government displayed a moderate and respectful
attitude towards the Castro regime, it became the unremitting target of
Rather than staunchly backing pragmatic initiatives aimed at constructively
relieving the regions’ social deficits—particularly the continued expansion
of poverty and concentration of wealth—Powell’s relatively few speeches on
Latin America emphasized only trade, market reform and an overly simplified
view of the need for democracy expansion. Additionally, rather than genuine
concern, Powell’s interest in human rights always seemed to reflect
selective indignation towards left-wing regimes, like Venezuela. When it
came to the region’s reaction to the Iraq war, Powell saw to it that a
number of Latin American nations were dragooned into joining the “Coalition
of the Willing.” As for those that continued to dissent, such as the
and Mexican ambassadors to the UN, he pressured their respective
government’s to withdraw them from their post. It is little surprise then,
that an estimated 85 percent of Latin Americans were opposed to a Bush
victory in the 2004 presidential election.
Rice and Latin America
Powell, at least occasionally, addressed hemispheric issues. One cannot say
the same of his successor, Secretary of State designee Condoleezza Rice.
has barely mentioned the region in public and in what may very well have
been one of her most profound statement involving hemispheric issues as
National Security Advisor, Rice chided Jamaican Prime Minister P.J.
Patterson for admitting the exiled Aristide into his country so he could
reunite with his family.
Aside from attacking Cuba as an “outpost of tyranny” and calling the
of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez’ government “very deeply troubling,” as
she did during her Senate confirmation hearing, Rice has shown neither a
substantial interest nor a particular competence regarding the region.
will certainly be no softening of the U.S.’ position toward Cuba during
Bush’s second term and she likely will use her Cold War-bred intellectual
credentials to hunt down any left-wing manifestations in the region. What
less ideological eyes would see as a new generation of populist leaders, in
Rice’s hawkish vision the current heads of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and
Uruguay appear as potential nettlesome leftists who could eventually pose a
threat to vital U.S. national interests. Be it extending or intensifying
perimeter of the White House’s anti-terrorism war or expanding the U.S.
Southern Command’s sphere of operation, under Rice’s jurisdiction, a
of the Cold War could soon be brought to Latin America. This is
true if she interprets Bush’s call for freedom and liberty as a battle cry
to expel dissident political figures like Castro or Chávez from power.
Venezuela’s New Partner…China
Relations between the U.S. and Venezuela have remained frosty ever since
Congressionally-funded National Endowment for Democracy (NED) helped
the conservative opposition’s unsuccessful coup against Chávez in April
2002. Washington will no doubt have to sharpen its eye on
relations as those two nations recently signed a deal to increase their
trade to $3 billion annually. Venezuela, whose 77.8 billion barrels is the
largest proven oil reserve in the Western Hemisphere, currently supplies up
to 15% of the U.S.’ imported petroleum. As the usual combative rhetoric
between the Bush administration and Chávez continues at an even more
frenzied pace, and with China threatening the U.S.’ consumption of
Venezuelan oil, Washington already has begun exploring its “contingency
plans,” as requested by the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, Richard Lugar.
Central America and Free Trade
As for Central America, Washington is not all that dismayed by the elevated
levels of corruption and drug trafficking in the region, which is
a high toll on El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and even Costa Rica. As
gang violence also spirals out of control, Washington remains more
interested in getting the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA),
along with the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), enacted. Strong
opposition to both, however, for their failure to ensure acceptable labor
rights and environmental protection, is certain to hurt their chances of
being ratified and implemented. Additionally, as the number of Central
American refugees in the U.S. grows, they will become an increasingly
powerful voting bloc that the Bush administration will no doubt court. Many
of these immigrants were victims of U.S. policies in the 1980s (i.e. the
civil wars in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua), hence the Republicans
see it as imperative to win back their gratitude in order not to lose such
potentially important new voting bloc to the Democrats. The key, it seems,
will be a liberal immigration status involving a process of legalization.
The War on Drugs
Colombia will likely continue to be a problem over the next four years.
Critics often have accused the administration of putting the drug war on
back-burner because no easy victory was in sight. In 2000, Washington did
enact the multibillion dollar Plan Colombia to combat that country’s drug
industry, but it has done little to reduce the amount of Colombian cocaine
arriving to the U.S. Since the drug remains widely available and because
many observers believe Bush has neglected efforts to reduce U.S.
consumption, a policy of ‘more of the same’ can be expected for the next
four years. Furthermore, regardless of whether it should be sent in the
first place, the aid that Colombia receives from Washington is far from
being enough both in economic and military terms to achieve Washington’s
goals. If anything, the aid simply dries up too quickly or is diverted by
corruption, with the costly endless war in the country certain to continue
taking its deadly toll.
This analysis was authored by COHA staff and compiled by Research Fellow
David R. Kolker.
January 21, 2005
COHA HOME PAGE
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please see our web page at www.coha.org; or contact our Washington offices
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