Friday, February 20, 2009

Barack's "Backyard" Isn't

Savior or Same Old Same Old?
For five murderous decades, Guatemala suffered a vicious succession of right wing dictators who butchered 200,000 of their own citizens suspected of being leftists, that meaning anything but medieval. Of course, these regimes were warm and close allies of Washington, which supplied them with the wherewithal for slaughter. Back in 1960-61, the U.S. used Guatemala as a staging base to mount its inept invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs.
In recent days, while the supposedly fresh-minded Barack Obama was repeating exactly the same dumb and damning things about Cuba as did ten other presidents from Eisenhower to Bush II, something amazing happened down in Havana. The democratically elected president of Guatemala, Alvaro Colom, made a state visit to the island and “officially asked Cuba for forgiveness” for allowing his country to be used by the U.S. to attack a brother Latin nation.
Hardly a day goes by that the newly free (from U.S. domination) nations of Latin America don’t announce yet another joint economic or diplomatic program aimed at achieving greater unity. Every country, without exception, accepts Cuba as an integral member of the hemisphere’s polity, and every one has demanded an end to the 50-year-old U.S. blockade and subversion of Cuba.
Meanwhile, President Lula of the huge economic powerhouse of Brazil, meets cordially and constantly with his hermano Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. Indeed, the traffic of friendly Latin and world leaders in and out of Caracas make it look like the UN. Nevertheless, a clueless U.S. further isolates itself by its efforts to reverse the democratic trend in countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, etc., as “dangerous to the continent” they comprise.
Washington’s client list in the region is down to Columbia, a death squad democracy where those in the political opposition are lucky to get a bullet behind the ear without being tortured beforehand. Obama, like Bush before him, can’t offer enough praise for Alvaro Uribe, the well-documented drug lord now endeavoring, without the opposition that our liberals and media heaped on Chavez, to gain the right to run for president indefinitely.
Barack Obama’s notion of change doesn’t appear to apply to Latin America. He sounds like Teddy Roosevelt a century ago, warning the natives that they had better do as Don Yanqui says or taste the bayonets of the US Marines.
Both his State Department and Obama himself, “in remarks that were unusually hostile and threatening even by the previous administration's standards,” accused Hugo Ch├ívez of having "impeded progress in the region" and described his new policy as providing a "counterweight to governments like those currently in power in Venezuela and Bolivia which pursue policies which do not serve the interests of their people or the region.” This was equivalent to the U.S. telling Germany and France that it would oppose their influence in Europe. How out to lunch can you get?
With Bush or Barack, boom times or bust, it appears that America is not about to give up its unaffordable and self-destructive imperial pretensions. Washington cannot shake off the mindset that Latin America is “our back yard,” in other words a place we own where we can do whatever we want. Unable any longer to realize that assertion, we keep it nevertheless as a delusion, no less dangerous for being unreal. Unfortunately, the evidence shows that our government is still spending millions of taxpayer bucks trying--fortunately in vain--to undermine and overthrow disobedient countries like Venezuela, Bolivia and the others. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if they were still sponsoring assassination plots against the nearly dead Fidel Castro. No doubt, they’ll attempt grave trashing after he’s gone. Meanwhile, the other 96 percent of the world treat our delusionary demarches as the fading moans of a moribund empire and goes about its own un-American business.