Monday, February 15, 2010

Piñera to back Insulza for OAS chair. And what else did you expect?

Sebastian Piñera, president elect of Chile, has decided to back the reelection of discredited OAS Secretary Jose Miguel Insulza because "It is a State Policy", meaning that the only reason he backs him is that Insulza is from Chile and as a state, no matter how lousy Insulza is, a Chilean president cannot not back him up.

Some of my dear friends are shocked, but why are they that surprised even if the ethics of such support truly suck?

True, Insulza not only is thoroughly undeserving of a second round, but he should be tried in an ethics court if people ever find the courage to create such a necessary international court.  From a social democrat defender of Human Rights, Insulza has abjectly come to support Chavez ambitions, including putting up with the insults that Chavez hurled at him.  Adding insult to injury he has not been effective even at serving his new master as witness the Honduras debacle at the OAS.  Under his tenure the OAS has gone from useless, to ridicule to end as a rather pathetic entity.  Nobody can expect that a second term of Insulza will improve things.  So why does Piñera support him?

Very simple: local politics!  (Remember Speaker Tip O'Neill famous saying?  When the Dems were still a great party? All Politics is local!)

Piñera is from the Liberal Right and he is taking office after 20 years of center left rule.  Needless to say that the defeated and rather bitter Concertacion is already busy trying to screw him and they have already plenty of excuses, the main one being the not resolved issue of Piñera (and many of his newly designated ministers) to divest of their financial interests before taking office.  By supporting Insulza Piñera is in fact doing a major stroke, internally and even externally, even if you think of it as a cynical, unethical and even depraved move.

Piñera silences some of his most vociferous opposition.  If he is such a right wing Pinochet heir, how can he support Insulza?

Piñera tells the Concertacion hoi poloi that changes are coming but that he will be respecting the bulk of the Concertacion inheritance.  That is why he used the term "state policy".

Piñera offers a deal: let me be and I will let you be (meaning on the financial thingy).  He offers the Concertacion a voice to play in internal Chilean politics in case they fell threatened by Piñera (he must be really self assured to take such a risk!)

But also Piñera sends a clear message to the rest of the Americas: "The OAS is worthless.  You are the ones that enabled Insulza, you deal with him.  If you really want to recover the OAS, PROVE IT! by tossing the scoundrel out!"

And finally Piñera tells us that his interest is Chile and that probably like Alan Garcia of Peru, the international stage has little appeal for him.  He is there to rule Chile, to solve its problems and as such it is an additional reassuring message for the Chileans that know how to read in between lines.  Kind of following the successful examples of Lagos and Bachelet.

And for us in Venezuela, many thinking that Piñera would land soon in Caracas with the holy water blessed stake to drive it into the bolibanan robolucion, it is a clear reminder that it is up to the Venezuelan people to make the necessary sacrifices to remove Chavez from office.  Get that in your heads once and for all guys!


  1. And the São Paulo Forum wins again!

    The OAS has done more to undermine the progress towards democracy, human rights, and the rule of constitutional law made since the end of the Cold War than any other institution anywhere. Their refusal to examine the content of the Reyes laptops after their authenticity was validated by Interpol, their betrayal of the Bolivians who negotiated a deal with Evo Morales based upon a promise to update the electoral register and implement other reforms, their resistance to implementing standards for the respect of constitutional law in the western hemisphere, and after all that, we come to their ineffectual (read conspiratorial) attempts to push Hugo Chavez to respect freedom of expression and the vote in Venezuela.

    Jose Miguel Insulza should never be permitted in the company of decent people anywhere. This is disgusting!



  2. Charly8:29 PM

    St Jacques, the ones who are to blame are the Yanks. Apparently they foot 40% of the OAS bill. Forget about democracy among nations. The golden rule is who got the gold sets the rule. If Insulza and the rest of the Bolsheviks pull the other way, they can very well make them totally ineffective by choking the air supply. In fact a better sanction would be to kick out the OAS head office from Washington if they cannot control it. Little bit like not giving a visa to top notch Chavista malandros (Chacon, Cabello)because they are coupsters. This hurt, those poor souls cannot visit Disney World. What a pity. Chacon was really put off by that a few years ago. They denied his visa. He complainded like hell. Serves him right.

  3. Charly and St Jacques

    There is too much "enabling" at the OAS, from the US using it as, they hope, a lightning rod to Lula to do its dirty work.

    Not that I defend Piñera's decision, but he knows how useless the OAS has become under Insulza, none of its or Chile's fault except for providing the secretary who ended up to be a liar and a betrayer of all that he run for to be elected. Piñera is telling Lula and the US that this is their baby and that he is sending back Insulza to force them to fess up to their mistakes. It is all part of the US Brazil struggle for the control of Latin America and Piñera is saying cleverly that the OAS is really not going to be the king maker there. Piñera is also implying that Chile's foreign policy will sail its own winds of FTA, bilateral relationships and containment of its only real problem, an Evo who might become more and more nationalist as his troubles grow.

    Let me put it this way: Chile knows very well that the OAS is NEVER going to be able to rein in Evo as he seeks an exit to the sea. As such Insulza in there will at least delay Evo as long as Insulza seats there. Depending who falls first, Evo or Insulza, Piñera will have his Northern flank relatively safe.

    Really, the more I look at it, Piñera's move, as unethical as it is, seems to be really a master stroke! I am impressed even if revolted.

  4. Well, this is some interesting commentary here.

    First; to Charly, I agree that no truly productive path of reforming the OAS will ever get underway unless and until Washington starts plucking the purse strings.  And I am convinced that something along those lines should be done.

    Second; to Daniel, though I do see the geopolitical relationships surrounding Chile you outlined writ large, and I paid a lot of attention to what was going on down in Bolivia in 2008 when Morales went head-to-head with the Media Luna Prefects, I have a slightly different take than you do on this one, or at least a slightly different one than what is contained within your comment, but perhaps made more clear in your original blog post.

    I do believe that internal Chilean politics is involved in Piñera's decision to back Insulza's re-election and for the very reasons you cite in your original post. He is not getting off to the smoothest of starts with the opposition raising hell over the private financial divestment issue and throwing his support behind Insulza's re-election to the OAS Secretary-General's job does help him in that regard.

    But moving on to your subsequent comment, I must say that while I agree that Evo is still the big issue "in the neighborhood," that Piñera needs to have an OAS chair who will listen to Chile's interests more so than not and, really in this instance, to clean up the complete mess Bachelet has left him to deal with regarding Evo. It was Bachelet who led the negotiating process that helped Evo to put down the Media Luna revolt and, perhaps most unfortunately for Piñera personally and Chile generally, completely castrated the Bolivian opposition when Bachelet--with Lula, Los Kirchners, and the OAS concurring--decided to look the other way when Evo decided to ignore several parts of the agreement and instead turned on the opposition in a terrible way.

    The consequence for Chile of having a Bolivia in which the opposition can put no checks on Evo are not good by any means, so my take is that Piñera needs to have someone who will press Chile's interests with Evo--since Lula and the Kirchners will not be well-disposed to Piñera--and about the only one available who has Evo's ear is Insulza.

    In short, while I do not disagree with your overall view of the geopolitical implications for Chile-Bolivia--Brazil--Argentina after Piñera's election, I do think Piñera wants a viable OAS that will have the strength to bring pressure to bear on Evo if and when it becomes necessary.

    Bachelet's decision not to enforce the negotiated agreement of the Autumn, 2008 that required Evo to address the electoral rolls, and to strict conditions for de-politicizing the Bolivian judiciary was policy pursued directly contrary to Chile's interests. Piñera is left to clean up the mess and needs Insulza.



  5. In a way, you can't blame Piñera, at least depending on what his exact reasoning was. (Not what he said, what he was really thinking.) He might simply be acknowledging the fact that, under Insulza's leadership, the OAS has already been emasculated to the point of irrelevance, so who leads it is equally irrelevant. He's gaining local political points, and he may see that he's giving up absolutely nothing - because there's nothing there.

    By the way, I disagree that Insulza's intent is to support Chavez's ambitions. I think it's all about Insulza's own ambitions, and if that means sucking up to Chavez on occasion to maintain sufficient support, so be it. Though the end result is the same.

    Charly, you can't blame the US on this, since the only time the US gets its way in the OAS is when it goes along with everyone else. 40% of the budget does NOT equal 40% of the vote, or anywhere near 40% of the influence.

  6. St Jacques

    Bachelet et al. did on the Media Luna what Carter and the OAS did on Venezuela in 2003-2004. In the case of Gaviria holding the OAS rein at the time it was unforgivable although he was willing to listen to the opposition claim of fraud of 2004. That these did not prosper was due to the willingness to some in the opposition to let it go and keep Chavez in office. Not that I defend Bachelet et al., but inner divisions inside the media luna front certainly did not help them in getting the international backing they sought.

    If you are faced with a wannabe tyrant, you need to be united.

  7. Daniel;

    I agree absolutely that the Media Luna should have remained united and stridently in opposition to Morales and the MAS, but after the killings at Porvenir they found themselves facing the possibility of mass murder. Morales had the Ponchos Rojos marching in Santa Cruz immediately after Porvenir and the intimidation factor was high. And the record is that the Media Luna paid the full price for not standing united, so obviously you are correct.

    But still, with respect to Bachelet, I am amazed that she did not care about having an internal check on Morales within Bolivian politics. That could only have worked to Chile's advantage. It was only a few months since Chavez had last said that he "dreamed of bathing on a Bolivian beach." I am convinced that Bachelet showed that very special form of hatred of the opposition to Morales of which only the left is capable.

    And now that it is all over, Piñera gets to use it against his opposition, with the moderates among them obviously uncomfortable about Morales going unchecked. That is where Insulza comes into the picture. He can talk to Morales, since he paved the way for Evo's elimination of his opponents.

    But just how awful is it that Insulza's role in the betrayal of democracy and especially constitutional law in Boliva actually make him valuable now?

    To hell with Insulza!



  8. St Jacques and Daniel,

    Very interesting the role that Bachelet in enabling Evo Morales.When it come to ethics, not too much is to be expected from Lula and the Kirchners but I had expected more from Bachelet who is supposed to be a more moderate and conscientious politician.

    There is a phenomenon among even moderate socialists both in Europe and elsewhere where they think that even though democracy is desirable for their own countries, some of the "less advanced " would do well with left wing dictatorship or authoritarian governments because " at least they are helping the poor".

    One would have thought that Bachelet would know a bit more about what is happening in the country right next door.Also didn't it occur to her that the example of Evo's guru Chavez demonizing Colombia might easily inspire his pupil to do the same?


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