Tuesday, March 06, 2007

One Thing You Can Take to the Bank

If national security advisor Stephen J. Hadley or Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice say it, the opposite is true. Yesterday, Hadley was asked if Bush’s trip to Latin America this coming Thursday is an “anti-Chavez tour”. Hadley said, “It’s really not.” It’s really not? He also could have said, "Not really", and produced the same unconvincing impression. Of course the Bush trip is anti-Chavez. How could it be otherwise? For certain, the trip is not pro-Chavez. And the Bush administration is assuredly not neutral about Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez. Last November 18th, Chavez said at a meeting of Venezuelan and Brazilian business executives in Caracas, “The planet's most serious danger is the government of the United States. ... The people of the United States are being governed by a killer, a genocidal murderer and a madman.” So Bush’s trip isn’t anti-Chavez? Please! Bush will first go to Brazil where he will bolster president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s contention that Brazil is the power country in South America, not Venezuela. Then the Prez will go to Uruguay to commemorate with President Tabare Vazquez the 2002 money crisis that the United States helped Uruguay avoid. Vazquez and the Prez are expected to discuss how Uruguay can expand its trade agreements. Needless to say, Vazquez is anti-Chavez. The main point of the Bush trip, which is the longest foray into South America Bush has ever made, is to promise American support and assistance to South America in order to counteract the assistance and military support Chavez has been giving to Bolivia and other South American countries. Bush will also make stops in Colombia and Guatemala. He will end his trip in Mexico. Bush actually has two reasons for this trip: 1) to try to convince South American leaders that the United States can help South American countries with their fiscal problems better than Hugo Chavez or any other fire-breathing leftist leader. Which, in Chavez’s case will be a big challenge because of Chavez’s deep pockets due to his oil wealth. According to the New York Times this morning, Bush is even expected to consider including workers’ rights guarantees in US trade accords with South American countries. In other words, George W. Bush will be very pro-America and very anti-Chavez. And 2) When Bush gets to Mexico, he will sell out the United States of America when he meets with President Felipe Calderón in Mérida in the Yucatan peninsula (a site picked to avoid huge protests against Bush in Mexico City) where he will give away the store (again) in his immigration discussions. The NYT quoted the president of Inter-American Dialogue Peter Hakim saying, “there is a sense that things are not going well for the U.S. in the region (Latin America)…there has probably never been so much anti-Americanism and so little confidence in U.S. leadership since the cold war.” The Bush administration put Latin America on the back burner after 9/11, and now it is attempting to buy it back with promises of economic assistance and arms, if need be. Promises…promises. All Latin American countries should be very mistrusting of any promises George W. Bush makes. The NYT said, “There are doubts about Congress’s willingness to approve free trade agreements that have been signed with Colombia, Peru and Panama.” And there are even more doubts in Congress and the general public about anything Ms Rice or Mr. Hadley has to say on any subject.

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