Latin America in Republican cross hairs


The Nov. 2 elections gave the Republicans a new sense of self confidence that is expressed in bold and reactionary plans for foreign and domestic policy. This is particularly dangerous in terms of U.S. policy toward Latin America.

While the Bush administration was elsewhere occupied, the working class in Latin America, with its allies among poor farmers, indigenous people and other minorities, and youth, made very big advances.

In Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua, radical governments have come to power. They have erected the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) as a counterweight to regional U.S. imperialist hegemony. Until the Honduras coup of June 2009, this grouping included Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela.

Beyond ALBA, left-leaning governments came to power in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay and Uruguay. Through mechanisms of regional integration such as MERCOSUR and UNASUR, this group works in amity with the ALBA group to realize the dreams of major protagonists of Latin American history such as Simon Bolivar and Jose Marti, whose fear was that once independent of Spain and Portugal, the region would fall under an equally oppressive and restricting hegemony of the United States. Jose Marti's famous statement that "I have lived in the monster and I know it from its entrails" expressed this. And it was prophetic: President William McKinley intervened in the Cuban war of independence against Spain, seized Puerto Rico and also put humiliating restrictions on Cuban national sovereignty.

U.S. hegemony in Latin America has been felt in many ways: profoundly unequal trade arrangements that keep U.S. corporations rich and millions poor, a mind-bogglingly long list of direct military interventions and support for some of the most revolting despots that the world has ever produced: Duvalier, Trujillo, Rios Montt, Stroessner, Pinochet, Videla and more.

The "Bolivarian" project aims to reverse that history. For this reason, it has become the ray of hope for millions of Latin American workers, farmers, indigenous people and other minorities, urban and rural poor, and youth.

But none of the left and center-left governments are securely in power, except Cuba (and even Cuba keeps its guard up). The right recently won the presidency of Chile. Leftist President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras was overthrown by a coup.  Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of Saint Vincent is threatened by intrigues cooked up against him in the United States and Britain.

Powerful internal and international groups plot to reverse the Bolivarian dynamic and restore U.S. hegemony: traditional and new ruling classes (landowners, bankers and various major business interests), the top military, people on the payroll of transnational corporations, the conservative hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, militant evangelical churches and the oligarchy-controlled press. Some countries are governed by right-wing regimes that connive in destabilizing the left-led countries: Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and now Chile.

As always, major government and non-government forces within the United States play a large part keeping the right in power in Latin American countries.

This was emphasized last week with a remarkable meeting in Miami of right wing Latin American leaders out of power and right wing Republican U.S. politicians. According to various reports, participants included U.S. reactionaries such as Republican Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Connie Mack, Republicans of Florida, both linked to the Miami Cuban exile circles; former Ecuadorian president Lucio Gutierrez, who is credibly accused of fomenting the recent police uprising in Ecuador; and various other U.S. and Latin American reactionaries. The purpose of the meeting, called "Danger in the Andes," was to find ways to force the Obama administration to take a harder line against the ALBA countries.

While, the Obama administration has not been terribly friendly to these governments, nor to socialist Cuba, these people are talking about overthrow and regime change, and they will have the backing of the most powerful transnational corporations as well as some in the U.S. military and security establishments. Of course, the pretext is going to be "protecting human rights and democracy." Oh, and fighting terrorism, of course.  

This is not just talk.  Many of these individuals were up to their necks in the plotting that brought about the coup in Honduras, and in keeping the coup regime in power against the pressure of most Latin American governments.  Rep. Mack talks about allying with right-wing Democrats to achieve his objectives, starting with pending free trade agreements with Colombia and Panama. This is a perfectly achievable goal.

These are very powerful forces. We are in for a fight.

Image: Left-wing President Correa of Ecuador, left, speaks with reporter. Photo supplied by the Office of the President of Ecuador // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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  • Although the USA likes to think of itself that way, Latin America is now the great bastion of hope in the western hemisphere. And the Republican Party has gone so reactionary that many of its "leading lights" consider George W. Bush to be "too liberal"! So if the Gang of Plutocrats (GOP) takes the White House in 2012, we can expect invasions of Venezuela, Iran, and Syria at the very least. And, of course, when it is being spent on killing people, money is no object and deficits are no objection to "the party of fiscal responsibility". Fortunately, USA is so dependent of Venezuelan oil that the likelihood of a shut-off in the face of an invasion might be enough to give even a President Palin pause.

    Posted by John Whiskey, 11/24/2010 7:56pm (5 years ago)



    Posted by j. h, 11/24/2010 4:46pm (5 years ago)

  • Raul Grijalva is a unique Democrat as is Dennis Kucinich and Alan Grayson. All three are outspoken and have proved one can do so and still get re-elected. Unfortunatley most democratic liberals are suffering from the ostrich syndrom, "we will bury our heads in the sand and hope the rightwingers don't hurt us."

    As to Obama and his Secretary of State, they have clearly supported the intent of the Bush regime to destabilize the people's government in Honduras. It matters not where the crime began, but who is now carrying it out!

    I voted for Obama but unless he does a 180 degree change, he will not get my vote in 2012. As to republicans, I would rather face a republican fool than a liberal coward who lies out of both sides of his mouth!

    Posted by Pancho Valdez, 11/24/2010 1:51pm (5 years ago)

  • Responding to Pancho Valdez:
    I think we have to have a politics of the left that combines all tactics: Street protests and legislative - electoral action also. It is not "either-or".
    In the Honduras example, there are strong indications that the plot to overthrow President Zelaya was hatched in late 2008, by elements of the Bush administration and the mostly but not entirely Republican right. After the coup happened, the U.S. State Department, now under Hillary Clinton, undercut efforts other Latin American countries to force the coup regime to step down, and later to pressure the Lobo regime to stop repression of the left, by inventing the Oscar Arias sideshow and by pushing for recognition of the legitimacy of the November 2009 Honduran elections. This is still going on.
    However, there were some people in the Democratic Party who have taken a different attitude and have been very critical of the US response to the coup and have organized pressure against the State Department's support for the Lobo regime. These include, for example, Cong. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), who nearly lost his seat in the Nov. 2 Midterm elections, and would have done had there not been a last minute mobilization. Would it have been useful for us on the left to have washed our hands of that election so that Grijalva, left-wing Democrat, would have been replaced by a right wing Republican? I don't think so.
    Let's have some balance, it's not "within the system" or "outside the system", it's a creative balance of both.

    Posted by Emile Schepers, 11/23/2010 11:22pm (5 years ago)

  • Interesting article. Yes the U.S. will undoubtedly attempt to destabilize any government in Latin America perceived as unfriendly to the interests of imperialism.
    That is a given.

    The question is what will the Obama adminstration do in this regard? Thus far he has supported the right wing coup in Honduras and continues to treat Cuba from a distance.

    I ask this question because it seems to me that for a president who is so deeply despised by the right, he continues to accomodate the right and caving in to the right's demands. One can only ask, Why?

    Chris Hedges wrote an interesting article in Truth Dig recently stating that the people must take their demands to the streets as the electoral process and the process used by elected officials to hear us out no longer works. I tend to agree. The unfortunate part is that too many on the left still think that "working within the system" is an option. Denial can be a dangerous thing.

    Posted by Pancho Valdez, 11/23/2010 1:34pm (5 years ago)

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