God's Politics

God's Politics


Geoff Thale: George’s Curious Adventures in South America

posted by gp_intern

President Bush is finishing a trip to Latin America – a trip that the White House has billed as advancing “the cause of social justice in Latin America.”

From the rhetoric, you’d think that the president has finally recognized that poverty and inequality are the central issues in Latin America; that it is not free trade that we should be concerned about, nor Hugo Chavez, nor coca eradication, but rather the poverty that has persisted through more than a decade of “Washington Consensus” economic policies.

These economic policies, promoted by successive U.S. administrations, and by the World Bank and other lending institutions, focused on expanding markets, reducing the role of the state in the economy, encouraging exports, and opening Latin American economies to U.S. imports. Unfortunately, these policies have had almost no impact on poverty or the unequal distribution of wealth.

Latin American social movements, and governments throughout the region, have rejected these policies and have begun to explore other approaches. Their ideas vary – from the modest reforms of Michelle Bachelet in Chile to the “21st Century Socialism” of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez – but all these parties and social movements are trying to find new ways to address the problems of poverty and inequality.

Concerned that the region is turning away from the United States, the president has now jumped on the bandwagon, at least rhetorically.

But there’s less here than meets the eye. The Bush administration hopes to woo the people and governments of Latin America with sweet talk, but with little change in its policies. The president visited Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico with very little to offer to advance social justice. His budget for fiscal year 2008 cut development assistance and child survival and health funds, while maintaining high spending military and security levels for countries like Colombia. He argued that free trade agreements were the best way to reduce poverty. His new initiatives – sending a medical ship to offer some free treatment, providing scholarships for Latin American students – are nice gestures, but don’t involve substantial amounts of money.

If the United States really wants to rebuild its relationship with Latin America, it will have to take some serious steps to address Latin America’s real problems, not just offer old policies in new rhetorical boxes.

Geoff Thale is program director and senior associate for Cuba and Central America for the Washington Office on Latin America.



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Don

posted March 14, 2007 at 5:39 pm


Geoff, I think another part of the problem is the continued and long-standing paternalistic attitude of the American government toward Latin America. We still think we know best how to deal with their situation. Until that attitude on our part changes and we begin approaching them more as equals, I think not only will the problems of poverty and inequality persist, but we’ll continue to see autocrats like Hugo Chavez rising up to challenge the US government. As a side note, a very interesting and revealing article appeared in Newsweek online today. Called “Bush’s Body Language,” it features a brief interview with a body language expert, who dissects several photos of Bush interacting with Latin American officials during his trip. If you are interested, be sure not only to read the article, but also look at the photo gallery and read the commentaries on the photos. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17597234/site/newsweek/ Peace,



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Wolverine

posted March 14, 2007 at 5:52 pm


What Mr. Thale neglects to mention is that these countries are just that: countries, with their own governments and their own policies. He seems to think that the US is the only actor that matters in South America, a simplistic, and oddly imperial, way of looking at things. Chavez and Bachelet are not trying new ways of addressing South American poverty and inequality. Socialism’s been done to death in that part of the world. And yet the poverty and inequality remains. There’s only one path out, and no, it does not consist of rolling over for the US, but it does involve relying on free markets with reasonable regulations and a modest social safety net. Wolverine



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kevin s.

posted March 14, 2007 at 6:59 pm


Chavez’s (not-so) new policies will wreak havoc on his country’s economy. To the extent that his style of leadership catches on, we can be assured of poverty in that region for decades to come. Of course, this doesn’t begin to explore the consequences for religious freedom. Chavez is moving toward a system of state-sponsored churches.But I suppose that’s nothing to get worked up over.



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Blake

posted March 14, 2007 at 7:01 pm


Don, would those “paternal attitudes” be so strong if we didn’t keep giving them so much money? Should we write a blank check? Somebody’s gotta make the call, and since it’s our check book, I’m glad it’s us.



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Alicia

posted March 14, 2007 at 8:09 pm


Hugo Chavez has accomplished the near-impossible task of making George W. Bush look good in comparison. I’d call Chavez “a Facist clown” except that people probably said the same thing about Mussolini.One doesn’t have to like George W. Bush, or agree with the overheated rhetoric about Chavez to see him as an undemocratic and dangerous man.



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Payshun

posted March 14, 2007 at 8:10 pm


Blake, I just wish I had your trust in government to use the money wisely.The problems of Mexico are complex ranging from very little infrastructure to the destruction of the middle class to… I don’t know what to say exactly except that there is more to this issue and I wish for once we did more to help build up the Mexican middle class than we do now. p



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justintime

posted March 14, 2007 at 8:29 pm


For true believers in the Free Market, socialism is the work of the Devil and a form of slavery. But the Bush administration is seen by most Latin Americans as the epitome of Yankee Imperialism. Bush’s tour of Latin American nations was dogged by angry demonstrators protesting his very presence. Mayan priests went to the trouble of purifying their cultural treasure from evil spirits stirred up by Bush’s visit. You may laugh at this but Latin Americans believe that worshipping the bitch Goddess of the Free Market is religion for the greedy. Bush is the wrong emissary to bring an American message of cooperation and partnership. Everything he does only makes things worse. The sooner he is driven from office the less damage he can do. .



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Don

posted March 14, 2007 at 9:10 pm


Payshun, I would agree with everything you said re. Blake’s comments. The idea that because we pay the bills we have the right to call the shots is exactly the kind of cultural imperialism the Latins resent. Later,



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kevin s.

posted March 14, 2007 at 9:21 pm


“The idea that because we pay the bills we have the right to call the shots is exactly the kind of cultural imperialism the Latins resent.” So what is your solution to this connundrum?



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Will

posted March 14, 2007 at 9:52 pm


Chavez is moving toward a system of state-sponsored churches. But I suppose that’s nothing to get worked up over.Yeah Kevin I guess it s not worth getting worked up over things like the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero either. US foreign policy in Latin America has been completely fair and balanced in the last 100 years hasn t it?



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kevin s.

posted March 14, 2007 at 10:20 pm


Will, That really didn’t have anything to do with my statement.



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Will

posted March 14, 2007 at 10:39 pm


Kevin you were commenting on S. America s leaning towards socialism and its effect on religion. You seem to think that if S. America goes to the left then Christianity will be oppressed. I was pointing out that American foreign policy has not been exactly open towards religious leaders in S. America who disagree with our economic intentions.



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justintime

posted March 14, 2007 at 10:59 pm


Global ‘Free Trade’ policies enrich the global corporations and the investor class while driving everyone else into poverty.A new global economic system is needed to reverse this threat to human survival. Worship of the ‘Free Market’ is killing us. Greed is destroying the planet. We need to start thinking beyond the bottom line. Or we all go down, rich and poor. .



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Ngchen

posted March 14, 2007 at 11:08 pm


I’ll have to agree with Wolverine here. It is good to have a social safety net; however, excessive social spending tends to hurt economies and doesn’t really lift people out of poverty. Sustainable development is the key for doing that. Chavez was fairly elected, yes, but his expensive policies (paid for with oil wealth) are unsustainable in the long run. FWIW, the subsidized gasoline there was around $0.15/gal or so, so it can be argued that his popularity has been “boought” with his country’s money.



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kevin s.

posted March 14, 2007 at 11:45 pm


Justintime, Would you prefer socialism to our present capitalist system?



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butch

posted March 14, 2007 at 11:49 pm


” Socialism’s been done to death in that part of the world. And yet the poverty and inequality remains.” Wolv Don’t take this as a big fight but demorcracy has been done to death in this country and poverty…. I don’t feel that simple broad statements like free markets, etc are sufficient to understand. Free markets have been done to death in this country and still the gap between rich and poor widens. It isn’t simple!



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butch

posted March 15, 2007 at 12:40 am


The idea that because we pay the bills we have the right to call the shots is exactly the kind of cultural imperialism the Latins resent. Later, Don Everyone will react this way, again these are complex questions. Do we stop aid, no. BIG BUT it has to done carefully or it is a waste of money.



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butch

posted March 15, 2007 at 12:53 am


Would you prefer socialism to our present capitalist system? kevin s Always the simple bad argument. Social and capitalist exist in almost every country, the question is how. These either or arguments is more Republi-nazi “my way or the highway”. Look at any poor housing development and you find high crime. In my county there are no poor housing developments yet the county is poor and crime, poor schools, poor health, etc abound. Ignoring the poor problem doesn’t make it go away and “pull yourself up by your boot straps” doesn’t work for the chronically poor. There must be a balance between aid and free markets (here and abroad) to have the best we can get.



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Wolverine

posted March 15, 2007 at 1:35 am


Butch wrote: Free markets have been done to death in this country and still the gap between rich and poor widens. It isn’t simple! Actually, Butch, we’ve had a mixed economy, with a substantial welfare state, since at least the sixties. And still… Well, actually, the economy in this country, for all its flaws, is one of the best in the world, which is why I believe that some version of a mixed economy, based on honest and transparent markets, is Latin America’s best hope. The doctrinaire Marxism of a Hugo Chavez is, was, and likely will always be a recipe for disaster. Wolverine



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justintime

posted March 15, 2007 at 1:42 am


Would you prefer socialism to our present capitalist system? kevin s.It’s not as simple as you may think it is, Kevin. America faces more complicated choices. New economic realities require careful, thorough, tough thinking, not dogmatic cookbook solutions. Government regulation is necessary to assure safety and general welfare for our American society and all of our citizens. Capital systems should be employed whenever and wherever they prove to be efficient and fair in serving the needs of American society. Where capital systems fail to deliver basic essential services to all American citizens, citizens can decide to have the government provide the essential services. You can call this whatever you want but really, it’s just practical common sense. There’s no such thing as a ‘True Free Market’, just as there’s no such thing as a free lunch. The Chinese are presently eating our lunch because Free Marketeers got everything they wanted. Economic planning by our government is essential, if we want American society to remain healthy and sustaining. The global economy is fragile and desperately needs planning on a global scale to assure sustainability of the planet’s resources and fairness to all mankind. Without this there is Mutually Assured Destruction. The planet has burned out on corporate, free market, supply side, trickle down voodoo economics with rich white men on top. Open your eyes to reality folks. .



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kevin s.

posted March 15, 2007 at 1:46 am


“It’s not as simple as you may think it is, Kevin.” This is not an answer to the question of whether you would prefer a socialist system to our present capitalist system. Which would you prefer?



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butch

posted March 15, 2007 at 1:56 am


Well, actually, the economy in this country, for all its flaws, is one of the best in the world, which is why I believe that some version of a mixed economy, based on honest and transparent markets, is Latin America’s best hope. The doctrinaire Marxism of a Hugo Chavez is, was, and likely will always be a recipe for disaster.” Wolv Exactly my point, why bother with Chavez, what do we want to do and how? We are not going to give aid or confort to Chavez, as Robertson says, “we are looking for a way to “take him out”. Until we take him out what do we do in the rest of S America.



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justintime

posted March 15, 2007 at 1:56 am


A fool’s choice. .



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butch

posted March 15, 2007 at 2:18 am


This is not an answer to the question of whether you would prefer a socialist system to our present capitalist system. Which would you prefer? kevin s. Where do you think we are, in a deposition? It is a terrible question leading to more Republi-nazi talking points. Does your computer switch to the a pat answer depending on either answer like offshore call centers.Oh, forgot this is “my way or the highway”, well “bring it on” Kevin.



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Payshun

posted March 15, 2007 at 3:32 am


Socialism is not evil anyway. I think the real statement Kevin is trying to make has to do w/ the greatness of capitalism. I could be wrong though, I can’t read his mind. p



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kevin s.

posted March 15, 2007 at 3:44 am


“Socialism is not evil anyway. I think the real statement Kevin is trying to make has to do w/ the greatness of capitalism. I could be wrong though, I can’t read his mind.” You don’t need to read my mind, because I speak it. It wasn’t a statement, it was a question. It is a relevant question because South America is gravitating toward socialism, and that is why Bush is going down there.



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Carl Copas

posted March 15, 2007 at 4:21 am


kevin s, what kind of socialism? there are many different types–Fabian, Marxist, scientific, Christian, social democrats, post-industrial, post-communist, libertarian, indeed even Arab.



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kevin s.

posted March 15, 2007 at 4:31 am


Carl, The broadest definition would be state ownership of the means of production. If an either/or discussion is out of the question, perhaps I might ask whether we can trade governmental authority over the private sector without losing our freedoms, and if/when it might be in our best interests to do so?



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Payshun

posted March 15, 2007 at 5:12 am


More on socialism here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism Actually Kevin it is not always easy to see your perspective because you don’t always explain yourself well. p



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butch

posted March 15, 2007 at 5:22 am


The broadest definition would be state ownership of the means of production. If an either/or discussion is out of the question, perhaps I might ask whether we can trade governmental authority over the private sector without losing our freedoms, and if/when it might be in our best interests to do so? kevin s It isn’t our government, it is theirs. Do have a hexagon of evil south of the border.



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butch

posted March 15, 2007 at 5:28 am


But then it could be we need to export free markets/democracy at the end of a gun neo-con style. Then it must be either or so we can find a new problem, the middle east is getting evermore problematic.Our President goes south and out comes the Republi-nazi’s finding a new problem.SOCIALISM, cover the childrens ears!



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kevin s.

posted March 15, 2007 at 7:00 am


“Actually Kevin it is not always easy to see your perspective because you don’t always explain yourself well.” Feel free to ask for clarification. Incidentally, Encarta says this about Socialism. “The socialist doctrine demands state ownership and control of the fundamental means of production and distribution of wealth, to be achieved by reconstruction of the existing capitalist or other political system of a country through peaceful, democratic, and parliamentary means” I think this is more useful than the definition offered by Wiki.



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Don

posted March 15, 2007 at 1:31 pm


Kevin, the real political problem in Latin America hasn’t been socialism per se; rather it has been instability of government. Hugo Chavez, ideology aside, is simply another in a long line of autocrats who have ruled Latin nations with an iron fist. Some, like Chavez, have been socialist. But others have been influenced by right-wing ideologies like fascism. And others have simply been tyrants. Latin America’s political history is riddled with military coups, brutal dictatorships, and suspensions of personal liberties. A good fictional treatment of this state of affairs is “The Feast of the Goat” by Mario Vargas Llosa. The novel is based on the “reign” of the murderous dictator General Rafael Trujillo, who ruled the Dominican Republic from the 1930s to the early 1960s. Unfortunately, of course, the US does not have clean hands in all this–not by a long shot. Perhaps our most best-known and notorious incident was the CIA’s assisting in the overthrow of, yes, socialist but democratically elected Chilean president Salvador Allende in 1973 and his subsequent replacement with the butcher Augusto Pinochet. We should never forget that the US government gave Pinochet their full support. It’s interesting to note that the most prosperous nation in Central America, Costa Rica, has been governed under a stable, constitutional system since 1949. The Costa Ricans have managed to escape from the usual political instabilities of the region and have built a stable political society and a prosperous economy. It’s also notable that Costa Rica does not have a standing army–hence they have lacked the primary resources necessary for military intervention in their government. Whatever the US does in the region, our major goal should be helping the Latin American nations develop stable, constitutional governments that serve their people and that reduce corruption–like Costa Rica’s. How to do that, of course, is the $64K question, and I don’t have the answers. It just seems to me that our longstanding policies toward the region have exacerbated the problems, not helped eliminate them. And I wonder if the Bush administration, with its posturing against Chavez and, more recently, the re-emergent Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, isn’t repeating the mistakes of the past instead of developing new solutions. Peace,



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Don

posted March 15, 2007 at 2:56 pm


Some further thoughts: Our policies toward Latin America should be based not so much on the ideologies of the players as on whether or not their specific policies and actions will benefit the people they govern. We don’t have to like socialism to recognize that socialist governments do exist that govern in stability, liberty, and prosperity for their people. Our relationships with Latin America in the past have been driven by whether our government likes their ideology. Hence the posturing against Chavez and the continued failed policies toward Cuba. If our policies were designed to support the *people* of Latin America and were not perceived to support governments that agree with us ideologically, maybe we could begin helping them solve some of their intractable problems. How would that play out? Well, in the case of Chavez, I have to wonder if our government’s anti-Chavez rhetoric didn’t aid him in his drive to consolidate his power. If we had treated him more even-handedly, perhaps he wouldn’t have been able to use the US position as a rallying point to bolster his populist image in his campaign for reelection. The election just might have turned out differently if he had been forced to run on his domestic record. Just a thought.



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Andrea

posted March 15, 2007 at 5:12 pm


We’re covering the American Revolution in class currently and the thought occurred to me that all this celebration of free trade as the answer to poverty seems incongruous with history. Did our extensive free trade lift English or French peasants out of poverty? Did our free trade help the slaves being transported? What is FREE trade anyways if not sheltered in a functioning democracy with some safeguards for social equity? Our own system is failing at that right now!



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kevin s.

posted March 15, 2007 at 5:29 pm


“Kevin, the real political problem in Latin America hasn’t been socialism per se; rather it has been instability of government” But the instability of government stems from a pattern of leaders who impose socialist philosophies on the masses. Allende was destroying Chile before Pinochet took power.”Hence the posturing against Chavez and the continued failed policies toward Cuba.” What would you do with respect to Cuba? Castro clearly has no proclivity toward recognize human rights. Would you prefer a military attack? “How would that play out? Well, in the case of Chavez, I have to wonder if our government’s anti-Chavez rhetoric didn’t aid him in his drive to consolidate his power” To the extent that he was able to portray the United States as hostile to the poor (which is a completely absurd proposition, btw) perhaps this played a role. He can bribe the people, pretending that relief for the poor is as simple as adding in governmental regulation, and that the United States could eliminate poverty if only it wasn’t run by tyrants. But what can we do? There are many in this country who believe this. As a nation, we know that this ideology is the play-thing of bullies. It seems only logical to speak out against it.



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kevin s.

posted March 15, 2007 at 5:32 pm


“What is FREE trade anyways if not sheltered in a functioning democracy with some safeguards for social equity?” I don’t think anyone is advocating anarchy. “Our own system is failing at that right now!” If we are failing right now, was there ever a time when we were succeeding? Do you think we can ever have an America that does not, in some manner, fail? If so, how does this come about.



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Donny

posted March 15, 2007 at 6:02 pm


“. . . and governments thoughout the region, have rejected these policies and have begun to explore other appraoches.” Uhhhh, what?They are only exploring communism. Good old fashioned communism. With a new paint job.



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Don

posted March 15, 2007 at 6:02 pm


“But the instability of government stems from a pattern of leaders who impose socialist philosophies on the masses. Allende was destroying Chile before Pinochet took power.” Kevin, you need to read some Latin American history. The political instability existed long before anyone was spouting socialist ideologies. Socialism, when it showed up, just became another ideology for the autocrats to latch onto. And socialism hasn’t always been the favorite ideology of Latin American autocrats. Don’t forget that fascism was once very popular there, especially in South America. Ideological trends have fluctuated greatly there over the years. And who can say that Allende’s socialism was destroying Chile? Who can say whether it would have or not? Allende had been elected democratically. Immediately after he took office, the US government, by way of the CIA working with Allende’s political opponents in Chile, began undermining his administration. He simply wasn’t in office long enough to give his policies a chance to fail (or succeed). And for the short time he was in office, all his efforts were being crippled by deliberate attempts to sabotage his government, courtesy of the CIA. “What would you do with respect to Cuba? Castro clearly has no proclivity toward recognize human rights. Would you prefer a military attack?” Clearly you are only thinking in terms of extreme opposites. This is a false dichotomy. I think I wrote something about supporting the *people* of Latin America, despite how we feel about their governments. The economic boycott against Cuba has been a manifest failure–after all, Castro is still in power after 45 years. But it has had a negative effect on the people of Cuba. We should have ended the boycott a long time ago. Ending the boycott wouldn’t have to signal support for Castro–you’re right about his human rights record–but it could signal support for the Cuban people. I just don’t think that we should be basing our foreign policy toward any particular Latin American nation on whether we agree or not with that government’s ideology. We don’t necessarily agree with the socialist state in Sweden, for example, yet we aren’t trying to interfere with how the Swedish government manages that nation’s affairs. Why should it be different for Latin America? And our efforts to control the ideological positions of Latin leaders by interfering in their affairs have usually turned out disastrously for the people. Later,



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Doug7504

posted March 15, 2007 at 6:34 pm


For the past thirty years our governments have periodically cast their eyes towards Latin America without any serious efforts to rein in the greed which drives most of our policies in the region. Now, faced with losing the Hispanic vote here at home, our President makes a quick trip, offers a few platitudes and leaves, hoping to keep those wavering voters here at home in line while he plays up to his neo-con supporters that he is “really” doing something about the problems in Latin America. What a farce! Threats against Chavez,cuddling up to the new Mexican government, Laura reads to some kids, and off they go. Here witness the cornerstone of our foreign policy…all fluff and no stuff!



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Payshun

posted March 15, 2007 at 6:42 pm


Don, Great stuff. I don’t have anything to add. p



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Carl Copas

posted March 15, 2007 at 6:44 pm


First, Kevin, thanks for the response to my question about what kind of socialism. I just wanted to make sure I understood where you were coming from. Second, I’m not sure Allende was destroying Chile prior to the coup, though there is no question that there was unhappiness with his regime. We will never know whether that unhappiness would have reached the point that he would have been removed–peacefully or otherwise–without CIA assistance to Pinochet and co. Third, I agree with Don that Latin America’s troubles long precede the arrival of socialism on the scene. The United States is not responsible for all of those troubles, but it is responsible for some of them (Guatemala would be Exhibit A).And despite the Good Neighbor policy and Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress, US policy has done little to alleviate the situation (non-governmental humanitarian work by U.S. citizens is quite a different matter). Fourth, as a progressive in my politics, I’d like to be able to root for Chavez. Unfortunately, he is exhibiting some very troubling signs right now. For the sake of the Venezuelan people, let’s hope Chavez steers a course that will benefit his people rather than his own increasingly Bonapartist ambitions. God’s blessing on all, on this Ides of March.



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justintime

posted March 15, 2007 at 6:50 pm


Kevin fails to understand that socialism and capitalism coexist in all nations of the world, including America and China. The key to freedom and prosperity with justice is achieving the right balance through democratic processes. If Kevin S. has read Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom, he should also read Kevin Phillips’ Wealth and Democracy. .



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kevin s.

posted March 15, 2007 at 9:24 pm


With regard to Allende, his removal would not have been possible without the suffering his policies wrought on his people. South America has exhibited a pattern of this call and response between ideological extremes, with each government pretending to have “the” answer. “Clearly you are only thinking in terms of extreme opposites. This is a false dichotomy.” My question was to ask what you would have us do w/r/t Cuba. I suggested a millitary response as a possible answer, not as a means of creating a dichotomy.



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justintime

posted March 15, 2007 at 9:28 pm


Kevin, Are you suggesting we invade Cuba under the Bush doctrine of preemptive war? .



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Don

posted March 15, 2007 at 10:33 pm


“With regard to Allende, his removal would not have been possible without the suffering his policies wrought on his people.” Kevin, once again you display your ignorance of Latin American history. Historians are unable to determine how much of the “sufferings” you refer to resulted directly from Allende’s socialist policies themselves and how much were a direct result of his opponents’ attempts to undermine his administration. Allende was in power for almost three years–from Nov 1970 to September 1973. During his first year, the economy actually improved. But late in his second year–beginning around October 1972–Allende’s opponents began staging strikes that eventually paralyzed the economy. Inflation soared, shortages began to appear (one result of the strikes), and foreign credit dried up. Eventually, the violence increased to the level where the military felt they had to intervene; thus they staged the coup which deposed and killed Allende and brought Pinochet to power. It’s an indisputable fact that US-backed efforts to undermine Allende’s government aggravated the situation, and that this effort began very soon after Allende was installed as president. But whether it would have happened anyway is impossible to tell. Also impossible to tell is how much of the economic upheaval was a direct result of Allende’s socialist policies and how much resulted from the US-backed efforts to dislodge him. The Chileans soon discovered that the level of suffering is sometimes a relative thing, however. Whatever the degree of suffering that may or may not have been caused by Allende’s policies, there is absolutely no doubt about the origin of the suffering that came next. Chile’s real suffering began after the coup, when Pinochet and his junta eliminated constitutional government and suspended Congress, imposed censorship, and began a systematic reign of terror against anyone suspected of being sympathetic to the ‘leftists.’ The cost of ‘saving Chile from communism’ and restoring a market economy was extremely high: over 2,000 people were executed without trial and/or as a result of torture, and some 1,100 people “disappeared” without a trace, making a total of about 3,200 people killed or presumed killed. And that’s only the official count. Further, estimates are that some 30,000 people were tortured. Is this something you would want to defend? After all, Chile today is a politically stable, prosperous country, especially when compared to most of its neighbors. The really sad thing is that all of this was also true before the upheavals leading to the coup in 1973. “Ideological extremes,” as you put it, were fairly rare in Chile before this happened. Was Allende responsible for tipping the balance here? The facts of history don’t seem to indicate so.



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kevin s.

posted March 16, 2007 at 12:05 am


“Kevin, once again you display your ignorance of Latin American history.” Why does every reply have to be preceded by some statement about my obvious (enter deficiency here). Allende advocated harmful policies that, in combination with international pressure, made him unpopular with the people. That is not incompatible with what I said.



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butch

posted March 16, 2007 at 12:13 am


“Our relationships with Latin America in the past have been driven by whether our government likes their ideology.” Don This is untrue, Allende and Pinochet are the best example. Putting Pinochet in was about natural resources, mainly copper, money not ideology.



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Don

posted March 16, 2007 at 12:45 am


Kevin, you missed my main point. What caused more harm, Allende’s policies or Pinochet’s murderous pogrom? Further, how can we know what (if any) harm Allende’s policies themselves caused? Fact is, we can’t. They were never given enough time to cause harm on their own. Why do you keep bringing up something that cannot be established? Even further, Allende remained popular with large numbers of Chileans, even during the worst of the economic upheavals orchestrated by his opponents (in cooperation with the CIA). They weren’t ignorant of the efforts to destabilize his government. Chilean poet and Nobel literature laureate, who was very popular with the masses, died about two weeks after Allende’s murder, possibly from a broken spirit over the coup. Butch: Wrong. The CIA effort to destabilize Allende was ordered by Richard Nixon’s administration primarily on ideological grounds. Think Cold War. Washington didn’t want a potential Soviet satellite in South America. Allende’s close ties with Cuba were making Washington nervous, not unlike Hugo Chavez’s ties with Cuba today. And are you aware that Pinochet did not reverse Allende’s nationalization of the copper industry? Far as I know, the copper mines are still being run by the Chilean government.



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Don

posted March 16, 2007 at 12:47 am


Oops, I forgot to name the poet in the middle paragraph. Pablo Neruda. Sorry. Cheers!



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butch

posted March 16, 2007 at 1:05 am


Whatever the US does in the region, our major goal should be helping the Latin American nations develop stable, constitutional governments that serve their people and that reduce corruption” Don Our policy is was and always will be in our economic interest. When we accept this simple truth then we can look at our conduct in S America and the rest of the world and a real discussion can ensue. In the mean time we are diverted to deal with communism or socialism. Childish!



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Don

posted March 16, 2007 at 1:32 am


Butch: Childish? That’s a bit much, don’t you think? And you don’t believe that ideology EVER influences our foreign policy? Did you miss the point I made in my last post (postmark 5:50 PM; this blog is still on standard time, apparently)? Besides, I don’t think I’m the one who has been harping on socialism here. I’ve just been responding to the harpings. Later,



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butch

posted March 16, 2007 at 1:42 am


“Butch: Wrong. The CIA effort to destabilize Allende was ordered by Richard Nixon’s administration primarily on ideological grounds.” Don Wrong Always the same lie about why. Not that the cold war wasn’t an influence, take out the copper question then the argument might make sense. Substitute Iraq, OIL, we are liberating Iraqi’s. Always the same lie, don’t believe it.



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butch

posted March 16, 2007 at 1:49 am


Don BTW youv’e done a fine job of explaining Chilian history.



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Carl Copas

posted March 16, 2007 at 1:51 am


Nearly impossible to divorce economics and ideology. Depending upon your sociology, you’ll argue that one leads to the other or vice versa.



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meddy

posted March 16, 2007 at 2:15 am


Geoff



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butch

posted March 16, 2007 at 4:56 am


BTW, I was at Anaconda when the copper takeover came up. Many in the company talked about what was going to happen in Chile. As some say Allende was going to be “taken out”. Call it talk but when someone predicts the future and it happens and they have reason to know it means something.Many are dead now but not all including me.



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butch

posted March 16, 2007 at 5:40 am


Besides, I don’t think I’m the one who has been harping on socialism here. I’ve just been responding to the harpings. Later, Don Don’t take yourself so seriously, I’m talking about the general question and it it is childish to think countries act out of idealistic priciples. It has never been so even when they give lip service to ideals. The main point is the Republi-nazi bring in another boogie-man to take our attention, in this case socialism. Perfect example; the Republicans take the religious rights money and votes with big promises and deliver on little if any of the religious rights expectations. Even making fun of them behind closed doors.



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Don

posted March 16, 2007 at 3:21 pm


Butch: I didn’t think I was taking *myself* seriously, but I am taking the *topic* seriously. :-) I try to follow as closely as I can US relations with our Latin American neighbors. I think what Carl mentions, that it’s almost impossible to separate ideology from economic interests, is probably true. But which came first and which is paramount in a given situation, I don’t always know, and it’s impssible to tell. But I can tell you that all the historical references indicate that Cold War concerns were the principal motivation for our interference with Allende’s government. If economic factors, pricipally copper interests, actually trumped our government’s concerns over the spread of socialism, nobody I’ve found has written about it yet. You are right about the harping on socialism. it’s a sideline. The principal causes of Latin America’s problems are longstanding and not directly related to any ideology. As I mentioned, differing ideologies have at various times been proffered as solutions to their problems, with socialism just being the current ideology du jour. You were in Chile when it happened? I would love to learn more from you sometime! Cheers,



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butch

posted March 16, 2007 at 7:22 pm


“As I mentioned, differing ideologies have at various times been proffered as solutions to their problems, with socialism just being the current ideology du jour.” Don No one will write about such things as the influence of the copper mines being nationalized in policies to overthrow governments. We are always fed ideals for any political action, war, etc. Strip off the ideals and look for the economics then go back and analysis the ideals and see if they stand up. Socialism is not our form of government but that doesn’t mean it causes any danger to our security or way of life. Now it may cause us economic problems or rather economic problems for certain companies or industries. We have used the CIA as our diplomatic arm in central and S America to overthrow governments we don t like.I think we are saying the same thing!



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butch

posted March 16, 2007 at 7:52 pm


“No one will write about such things as the influence of the copper mines being nationalized in policies to overthrow governments.” If it becomes the policy of the US to covertly overthrow a government because of some commodity such as copper or oil or even water do you think this will ever be the stated purpose? Any purpose put forward will be things like spreading democracy or protecting the people, etc. Newt in an interview talked about how important it is for the US to save Muslim women from being forced to wear berka’s, of course he is a champion of women’s rights. Just smoke for the people, clear away the smoke if you want to understand. So, comes Kevin S., the main Republican operative here, with socialism, smoke. Why?



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Don

posted March 16, 2007 at 10:51 pm


butch: Yes, I think we’re both saying basically the same thing. Just to clarify, when I wrote that I hadn’t encountered anyone writing that the copper mines were the real reason for US intervention in Chile, I was referring to historians, not government spokespersons. (I checked a couple of brief historical references when I wrote my comments above.) No, I wouldn’t have expected any Nixon administration official to make so blunt a statement, any more than I would expect Cheney to tell us we’re in Iraq because of oil. But I would expect historians eventually to arrive at that conclusion, if they uncover any evidence to support it.Maybe the evidence isn’t available under the Freedom of Information Act yet. Or maybe Bush has re-classified it. ;-/



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justintime

posted March 17, 2007 at 2:13 am


Labor Rights in Guatemala Aided Little by Trade Deal Peter S. Goodman, Washington Post, March 16, 2007 GUATEMALA CITY — Day and night, workers at the port of Quetzal on Guatemala’s Pacific coast load fruit from surrounding plantations and clothing stitched in local factories onto freighters bound for Long Beach, Calif., a flow of goods that has swelled since a Central American trade agreement with the United States took force last year. Under a provision that was crucial to getting the deal through Congress, working conditions for the longshoremen, along with laborers throughout Central America, were supposed to improve. Governments promised to strengthen labor laws, and the Bush administration pledged money to help. But on the evening of Jan. 15, the head of the port workers union became a symbol of the risks that still confront workers who press their rights in Guatemala. Pedro Zamora, then in the midst of contentious negotiations with management, was driving on the dusty road through his village, his two sons at his side, when gunmen shot him at least 20 times, killing him, said prosecutors in Guatemala City. One boy was grazed in the knee by a bullet; the other was unharmed. Nearly two years have passed since the countries of Central America vowed to strengthen worker rights as they sought votes in Congress for the Central American Free Trade Agreement, or CAFTA. Yet there has been little if any progress, according to diplomats, labor inspectors, workers and managers. “The situation is the same now as it was,” said Homero Fuentes, director of the Commission for the Verification of Codes of Conduct, a Guatemalan group hired by multinational companies to inspect local factories and plantations. “The law hasn’t been reformed, and people just don’t obey the law. There’s a culture of impunity.” The Bush administration is facing intense resistance in the Democratic Congress as it seeks approval for new trade deals with Peru, Colombia and Panama. The tense labor situation in Guatemala and other countries covered by such deals helps to explain why……… http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/15/AR2007031502452.html The ‘Free Trade’ Putsch is being used by multinational corporations and the worldwide investor class to drive down labor costs around the world and in the US as well. These ‘Unfair Trade’ deals create poverty while multiplying profits for the corporate elite. .



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justintime

posted March 17, 2007 at 5:21 pm


Extradite Chiquita execs: Colombia BOGOTA, Colombia, March 17, 2007, BY TOBY MUSEOutraged Colombians called Friday for the United States to extradite American banana executives after the Cincinnati-based fruit giant Chiquita acknowledged paying money for protection to illegal groups that carried out killings. Chiquita settled a U.S. Justice Department probe by agreeing Wednesday to pay a $25 million fine and acknowledging that its wholly owned subsidiary Banadex paid $1.7 million to far-right paramilitaries labeled terrorists by the United States. Chiquita also admitted funding Colombia’s two main leftist rebel groups. Chiquita portrayed itself as a victim of Colombian violence, saying Banadex ”had been forced to make payments to right- and left-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia to protect the lives of its employees. The true face of American diplomacy. Why do they hate us? Now you know. .



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kevin s.

posted March 17, 2007 at 7:14 pm


“The true face of American diplomacy. Why do they hate us? Now you know.” The Chiquita corporation isn’t an American diplomat, nor were they operating in accordance with our law.If you have a governmental system that does not encourage personal ownership, you do not have an economy from which to sufficiently pay police forces to counterract violent gangs. You might note that we largely do not have this problem here in the U.S.



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justintime

posted March 19, 2007 at 6:07 pm


Kevin, Most Latin American nations do have economies favoring ownership. Unfortunately most Latin American nations are oligarchies with ownership restricted to the wealthy elites who allow multinational corporations to exploit their cheap labor and plunder their resources. Unfortunately, populist revolutions in Latin America have been mostly unsuccesful with land reform to provide equitable ownership, or in generating a middle class or in stabilizing their societies.There are several reasons for this: 1. Demogogues, who tragically betray the trust of the citizenry. 2. Right wing counterrevolutionary movements backed by American Imperialists. 3. Experimentation with home grown communistic economies which typically have failed. Kevin you seem blind to the destructive influence of oligarchical economic systems and corporate fascism, particularly in America. Suggest you read Kevin Phillips’ “American Dynasty”. As you may know, Kevin Phillips created Nixon’s Southern Strategy so he has conservative credentials. Now he seems to be another dismayed Republican. .



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Reporters without borders

posted March 19, 2007 at 6:43 pm


Hi, This is the Internet freedom desk at Reporters without borders. We create a blog: http://www.rsfblog. Our goal? Every week, we publish posts from bloggers throughout the world which deal with a same subject. This week: Bush’s tour in America Latina. We’d like to translate your post about bush in america latina in french. Could you authorize us? Thank you in advance, RSFBlog team



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justintime

posted March 19, 2007 at 7:02 pm


Hi Reporters Without Borders. I couldn’t find your blog using the link you provided. Do you plan to translate all of the posts on this thread? OK to use anything I’ve written. Peace. .



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Steven K.

posted March 19, 2007 at 9:03 pm


Butch, The U.S. involvelment in the Allende overthrow / suicide / murder goes beyond allegations. Senate Sub-Committee documents specifically show the CIA’s involvement in the dismantling of the Allende system. While the link to Pinochet may not be able to be proven, there is no doubt that the CIA paved the way for Allende’s downfall.And back to bananas. The Dulles brother had a significant stake in UFCO. U.S. Foreign policy was manipulated by leaders of our govt for personal gain.



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Reporters without borders

posted March 21, 2007 at 5:31 pm


it’s http://www.rsfblog.org WE have publish your post .. thank you very much !



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