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  • What About Latin America?

    After two Presidential debates it’s becomingly increasingly clear there will be little discussion of U.S.-Latin American relations in the final month.

    How will the next President handle President Hugo Chavez, the deteriorating U.S. – Venezuelan relationship, and growing ties with Russia and Iran? What about Russian warships headed to the Caribbean for joint maneuvers with the Venezuelan navy or Chavez’s soliciting Russian help with nuclear power?

    Enriched by Venezuela’s oil revenues, agents of Chavez’s government have conspired with narco-terrorist guerrillas in Colombia, shipped suitcases of cash to Argentina, and worked to firm up relations with Middle Eastern terror organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. Oil and other subsidies from Chavez give Raul Castro in Cuba a major means to preserve a communist dictatorship well beyond its expiration date.

    Borrowing from the Hugo Chavez’s playbook, Evo Morales swept into power in Bolivia in 2006, promising mass-government handouts while deriding the free market and “Yankee imperialism.” Morales has tightened his grip on the state nationalizing the gas industry, cutting away at private property rights, defending the right of farmers to grow coca [the base ingredient of cocaine], and pushing his country to the brink of civil war. In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa has utilized his brand of populism to win control over the nation’s central bank and key economic resources and to guarantee longevity in office. In Nicaragua, Sandinista president Daniel Ortega pines for the bad old days of the 1980s and even traditional Central American friend Honduras is tempted by offers of cheap oil and other financial aid from Venezuela.

    And yet, the stalled Colombia Free Trade Agreement in Congress seems to indicate that our public elected officials have little interest in shoring up our ties with one of our strongest allies in South America.

    In the past, U.S. presidents articulated broad visions and bold measures to advance U.S. interests and leadership in the Americas. One hopes that the candidates will be able to look past the current crisis on Wall Streets and beyond sniping over their fitness for high office to articulate a clearer, bolder vision of the way forward in the Americas. Let’s hope the instincts for American leadership prevail in reasserting the importance of democracy, human rights, economic freedom, and individual liberty in the Western Hemisphere and across the globe.

    Israel Ortega co-authored this post.

    Posted in International [slideshow_deploy]

    4 Responses to What About Latin America?

    1. luke weyland, Sydney says:

      Chavez "conspired" with FARC to the extent of ensuring safe release of FARC's hostages. He has called upon FARC to follow the example of ELN and abandon the armed struggle. Ecuador also tried have the hostages released but Colombia deliberately killed hostage takers, & hostages, alike, with support from the US military.

      Chavez denies shipping suticases of cash. No court has ever convicted him of this outrageous allegation.

      Chavez has worked to firm up relations in the Middle East and opposed those who terrorize Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq, namely the Israeli and US governments. Hamas is the elected government of the Palestinians, Hezbollah, is a major party in the coalition government of Lebanon. By his support for Palestine and Lebanon, Chavez is often seen as a hero across the Arab world.

      Yes Venezuela subsidizes the poor in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Oceania and United States of America. It certainly provides far more than 0.3% of its GDP in aid!

      Cuba is not a dictatorship – everyone over 16 years has the right to vote. Only USA has decided that Cuba has an expiration date and for over 40 years has had plans to destroy it.

      Evo Morales swept into power – yes he was democratically elected with 54% of the vote – something not even the US Admin denies. In the recall referendum this support rose to 75%

      "Yankee imperialism.” has protected the individual rights of the wealthy so that Bolivia's wealthy elite can continue to deny the rights of the vast majority. It has participated in a coup in the 1950s that overthrew a centrist government and funded Bolivia's former government against then opposition leader Morales.

      Bolivia has private property rights in their constitution

      Defending the right of farmers to grow coca yet continually opposing the cocaine manufacture and trade. Some of those who oppose Morales are pushing the country to the brink of civil war by arming "civic groups" blockading roads, cutting gas pipe lines, taking over government offices, shooting MAS supporters – others only want to use the ballot.

      In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa has utilized his brand of populism – he won a referendum with over 70% support. To win control over the nation’s central bank (yes hasn't the USA, Britain, Spain, Iceland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Netherlands, Japan, recently taken over banks too – are these marxist countries too?

      In Nicaragua, Sandinista president Daniel Ortega pines for the bad old days (for people like Somoza and Nixon )American friend Honduras is tempted by offers of cheap oil (and getting) and other financial aid from Venezuela. Doesn't the USA poor get cheep oil too?

      Our (US) public elected officials have little interest in shoring up our ties with one of our strongest allies in South America. They have been more preoccupied with killing Iraqis, Afghanis, and now Pakistanis.

      In the past, U.S. presidents articulated broad visions and bold measures to advance U.S. interests and leadership in the Americas. It has overthrown governments in Mexico, Cuba, Grenada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, Surinam, Guyana, and long ago tried to take British Canada.

      Let’s hope the (better) instincts for American leadership ( including the US ) prevail in reasserting the importance of democracy, human rights, economic freedom, and individual liberty in the Western Hemisphere and across the globe. The best way they can do this is not by following the advice of Mr Israel Ortega. It is by respecting the wishes of the peoples and governments of Latin America and only interfering in their internal matters only to the extent and manner they so require.

    2. Jay Bird, Bodega Bay says:

      Sounds to me like leftist Latin American leaders did everything right in light of the current banking/institutional crisis. Deriding the "free market" (the free exercise of extra-market capital), nationalizing industries, investing national oil profits in more sustainable local infrastructure, etc. The US is primarily interested in extracing resources from these countries in sweetheart deals through political and economic control. Leftist Latin American leaders have been brilliant and presentiant in removing themselves somewhat from US influence and economic entanglement.

    3. to luke weyland, Syd says:

      you need to revisit your history. Chavez is nothing more than a Caudillo. its not only passe but totally erroneous to simply blame some notion of "yanqui imperialism" for all of the woes in the world. your claims are based on emotion rather than evidence. Chavez on the other hand – ask any Venezuelan who has fled the country – only cares about Chavez. oil is no trading below $80 / barrel – watch Chavez now start to fall apart, default on its debt and basically plow itself into the ground. hip hip hoo-ray for the 21st Century "socialism"! alrigth mate one more pint! yeeeeeah! stay over there please. saludos.

    4. JP Swoopes, Hampton, says:

      It always seems that South/Central America fall of the United States radar screen until a crisis is on the verge of arising or has already arisen. The primary issue from the region that ever seems to make the front line news in the United States is when Hugo Chavez begins to make a political roar that is usually directed against the United States or its strongest ally in the region Colombia. The United States has a military command i.e. SOUTHCOM geared towards the area, but it seems that the United States government and military focus is towards the Middle East in vicinity of the i.e. CENTCOM and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, resulting with SouthCom being a forgotten entity in the eyes of many.

      As United States history in the region has demonstrated it seems that instead of addressing issues in the area in a preemptive manner the United States will end up intervening when a crisis or event has already erupted. In looking at past United States and Central/South American historic relations this seems to be the recurring theme for the region.

      Currently the most recognized issue driving conflict against the United States in the region is from illegal drugs that come from the area, but the other significant issues that will affect the United States are the corruption, violence and criminality (and possible terrorism) that accompany those illegal drugs. And then of course there is always Hugo Chavez with some issue against the United States and his on/off relationship with the FARC, an organization that is well tied into the illegal drug trade and the avenues that accompany it.

      Overall it appears that Central/South America is not a large topic currently in the United States, but as history has shown they are too close, too populated, and has too many issues that affect the United States to remain off the United States radar screen for too long. Hopefully the United States will be able to focus some attention to our neighbors to our south before the issues we have avoided cross over into our borders.

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