Thursday, February 25, 2010

Cancun secrets

 No, this is not going to be about the spat between Uribe and Chavez, where Chavez was exposed and humiliated once again but where Uribe did not look too good either.  The surprise here was not Chavez trying to grab headlines, that is about the only thing he can do these days, for which he is willing to do anything, as silly as it might be.  No, the surprise was that a normally cool Uribe lost it.  Or did he?

The Cancun "summit" early this week was supposed to bring together Central America, the Caribbean and South America sans US of A and Canada.  The mystery here is why so many heads of state allowed themselves to be manipulated as such, including surprisingly Felipe Calderon of Mexico who should know better.  Or does he indeed?

One of the proposals floating around, from Chavez, or the Castros (does it matter?)  was to create an OAS without North America for which Chavez proposed Lula, about to be jobless in less than a year, to chair over.  And yet Lula did not try to grab headlines and surprisingly it was Raul Castro who came out as the peacemaker holding Uribe and Chavez apart from a fist fight.  Or was that his nature been revealed to all?

I am not too sure what really goes on, but among so many pundits why not indulge myself.

First, Uribe outburst.  I think it was sort of planned.  Why?  Because it seems that Uribe is not going to be able to run for reelection after all.  So, as the statesman he is he decided to sacrifice himself in part, to have it out with Chavez and either mend relations for his successor, or leave it near war.  War of course is not nice and it is not what Uribe wants since the FARC is at war already with him.  And a war with Venezuela is not necessary as the country is imploding on its own; but its implosion will create displaced masses at the borders and political trouble there.  Quite a lot like the consequences of war, you know...  What I mean here is that Uribe wants his successor to reach the Casa de Nariño with the Colombian public opinion having a clear outlook at what the permanence of Chavez means for them. 

Let's not forget one thing, if Uribe and Chavez look a lot alike in their political ambition and authoritarian outlook of rule, Uribe is also a statesman and he works ALSO for Colombia whereas Chavez ONLY WORKS for himself.  Big, big difference there!

Let's go on now to the real reason of the summit.  It is another episode of the war for control of the Americas between Brazil and the USA.

Why?, you may ask since the US was not present.

True, it was not there but Mexico was and that is what explains the role of Calderon, who in spite of his NAFTA treaty with he US pretended to agree, as if nothing, to create a non-OAS OAS like structure minus, Canada and the US.  Calderon simply let Brazil know that if it wanted such a structure so as to increase its hemispheric influence it would find Mexico across the table fighting it back, or at least for its own area of influence.  Look at the votes: Mexico is next door to many small countries whereas Brazil is, well, far away.  A little independent Caribbean island can easily be bought by Mexico as it knows full well that there more tropical tourism to expect from the US than from Brazil.  We call that a Trojan horse too, Mexico that is, for the US, if needed.

That is why the US was just fine about the Cancun summit, not offended at all by the apparent snub, letting Brazil start a premature exhaustion and, let's not be afraid of full speculation, serving Brazil notice that if it wants to exclude the US it would also have to foot the bill for the potential failed states that border it.  I mean Venezuela and Bolivia.  Want them?  Have them!

Which bring us to the last item, the relative discretion of Lula and the figuring of Castro.

First there is the amazingly disconcerting wish for too many in Latin America to want to figure with the Castro brothers, something that is not possible at the OAS.  Why there is such an overlook of the crimes committed in Cuba is a mystery that cannot be explained alone by the past silly leftism of people like Lula or Bachelet.  While the meeting took place yet another tortured hunger strike political prisoner died in Cuba.  As if nothing Lula and Chavez traveled to Havana after Cancun.  Only Europe and the US have complained, the rest of Latin America so far keeps silent!  The shame!

And there is the reason why Lula was discreet and Raul Castro the peace maker.  The OAS is now a very nasty restrain to many countries which are embarking into serial human rights violations.  In particular Nicaragua, Venezuela and Bolivia (though other countries could soon find themselves into the shooting field, namely Colombia, Honduras, Paraguay and Mexico).  Many really are sorry they signed the Interamerican chart of the OAS for the protection of Human Rights a few years ago.  Not only they are getting afraid that it could be applied to them, but other countries like Brazil are afraid that they will have to vote on its application as this could kill its business in these countries where rights are violated.  In other words since we are a continent of cowards, victims and victimizers, so to speak, would like to get out of the OAS obligations (that they are already failing, look at Colombia supporting Insulza reelection!).  What best but to leave the OAS for another organization without such restraints?  And which holds its meetings in nice places like Cancun allowing heads of states to take a vacation and slap each other's backs.

Heck!  Even Chavez was already promoting Lula for that new organization as the best candidate to preside it.  I bet he is!  But that was a tad too early for Lula, with Mexico so clearly and energetically stepping in, a rather disconcerting surprise for the imperial Brazilian foreign service.

So Lula stayed quiet, letting Raul Castro shine.  Astounding!

Which makes Lula the biggest loser as his foreign policy since the Honduras crisis has been accumulating mistakes, missteps and empty results.  He did not do much there, tried to be discreet, but when you look at it he was the one with the highest expectations, did not fulfill them and went on to Cuba to support murder!  He is in great danger to mess up his record a few months before leaving office, and carry down with him his appointed successor, Dilma Roussef, which from all I can read about her is not a very promising ruler at all!

The biggest winner here?  Believe it or not Canada and the US!  After the disastrous Bush years for the US relations, and its image, with Latin America (I know, I know, many reasons but the result is there and Obama has to deal with it) the US was in a nearly impossible situation.  And yet, with Honduras conclusion, and now this absentee good point, I must say that so far Obama's team policy toward Latin America is overall doing much better than I was expecting at first!


  1. Boludo Tejano7:30 AM

    the US was ... serving Brazil notice that if it wants to exclude the US it would also have to foot the bill for the potential failed states that border it. I mean Venezuela and Bolivia. Want them? Have them!

    Sounds accurate to me. There is increased sentiment in the US for stopping the funding of OAS. Why fund an organization that has an HDP like Insulza at the helm?

    But like the UN, the OAS is a mixed bag. While the UN General Assembly and Human Rights Council are but additions to world entropy, the FAO and WHO appear to do good work. I certainly have used their statistics enough. Similarly, the shame of the OAS with regard to Honduras and Cuba may be balanced by its recent Human Rights report on Venezuela. It will be interesting to see what the fallout of the OAS human rights report on Venezuela will be.

  2. Daniel, I find your take on the Mexico summit meeting very interesting, in particular the roles of Mexico and Brazil in the ongoing realignment of forces, and how the US wins by not being part of it. The topic of support for leftist governments or rulers, to the extent of ignoring even their most blatant crimes, is something that has intrigued from a very tender age. I remember my primary school bus driver (this was before the Castros came to power) defending the then Russian ruler Stalin at the high of his repressive regime. And it saddens me to see people in Europe today trying to rehabilitate the same Stalin and make him look like the people’s defender. I think it is due to rigid dogmatism in leftist ideologies: the left is good for the people and must be supported despite its “shortcomings”; the right is bad for the people regardless of any success stories. Castro good, Obama bad. Sad.

  3. Charly2:54 PM

    The attitude of Caribbean and Latin American presidents toward the Castro brothers is not much different than that of African presidents toward Robert Mugabe. In fact these two regions look more and more alike in more than one way.

  4. Very thought-provoking, Daniel. The idea that an organization without the US will sideline the Yankees is simplistic, even naive. The US will maintain bilateral relationships with all of those countries, and nearly every one of those is likely more significant than whatever actually happened in the OAS. And if they want to talk to more than one country at a time, it can easily be arranged.

    The US has never had the option of blowing off the OAS entirely, as that would be widely seen as ignoring the region (damned if you do, damned if you don't), but this would simply relieve them of a burden, at no cost to themselves. Brazil is setting themselves up to find out that having crappy neighbors in your "backyard" is more trouble than benefit.

  5. Anonymous6:00 PM

    “And a war with Venezuela is not necessary as the country is imploding on its own; but its implosion will create displaced masses at the borders and political trouble there. “
    - Everytime we think something is going to happen because it cannot get worse and we are once again at another tipping point, well...a holiday is celebrated, it’s Holy Week, Summer Vacation, another show of dueling Marches and nothing ever happens and everything just goes back to limping along again, sinks to a newer low and everyone conforms. To throw out a question for info....who is a good immigration lawyer/firm to use in Caracas? Maybe it is time to take Plan B off the shelf once again...dust it off and... Grrrrrr... Thanks MM

  6. There has long been a development of " la conciencia de ser Latino Americano" which has received a boost with the appearance of leftists like Lulu, the Kirchners, Bachelet etc.It is regarded as something sacred where any breach would be seen as blasphemy.

    The concept is : if they are one of us they are immaculate.By embracing the most extreme representative of this like the Castros, you prove your credentials and show your total commitment and pride in being a Latino Americano.

    From the perspective of the US the best course is not to interfere in this mutual admiration society and just let folks indulge themselves while making sure Castro does not join. the OAS.

  7. Boludo Tejano9:23 PM

    Babalu has the video on a power interruption during a Thugo TV talk, appropriately titled, “Turn on a Candle, Ramiro.” It quotes a WaPo article, which is here in full.

    CARACAS, Venezuela -- Power failures have become a fact of life in Venezuela, but the energy problems have not affected the presidential palace - until now.
    President Hugo Chavez was giving a televised address Thursday when the broadcast on state TV was suddenly interrupted. TV screens went fuzzy for a couple of seconds, then the channel switched to a spot urging Venezuelans to save electricity.
    When the live broadcast resumed minutes later, Chavez said the interruption was caused by problems with a power generator.
    Chavez blames energy shortages on a drought and low water levels at the Guri Dam, which supplies about 70 percent of Venezuela's electricity. Critics argue Chavez has failed to invest enough in electricity production.

    So, there are SOME advantages to watching ThugoTV. According to Breitbart, Thugo was ranting about Bush when the power was interrupted. Dunno about that.

  8. The concept is : if they are one of us they are immaculate.By embracing the most extreme representative of this like the Castros, you prove your credentials and show your total commitment and pride in being a Latino Americano.

    I thinking I just learned something important.

  9. Anonymous1:03 AM

    A bit OT but it looks like Uribe won't be able to run in a second reelection:

    Una segunda reelección inmediata atenta contra los principios de la Constitución, dijo la Corte


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