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You have to wonder whether President Bush just thinks we Americans are stupid, or whether he is so out of touch with reality that he isn’t aware of what he’s saying.
In Latin America, trying to sell his American imperialist snake-oil to a group of nations whose leaders, and especially whose people, were skeptical to hostile, Bush argued for the American model, instead of the neo-socialist approach being taken and advocated by the wildly popular Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.
That latter approach, the president said, "seeks to roll back the democratic progress of the past two decades by playing to fear, pitting neighbor against neighbor, and blaming others for their own failures to provide for their people."
Now at the moment, it would be hard to find any failures in Venezuela, where Chavez has been using his country’s windfall revenues from oil to fund schools, to help displaced and unemployed workers take over shuttered factories and run them as co-ops, and to bring in doctors from Cuba to bring health care to the country’s poor.
Chavez, incidentally, has survived a most likely U.S. -orchestrated coup, and has been elected twice by wide margins, in elections that were monitored by international observers (including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter) and declared to have been fair.
As for the U.S., it would seem to me much closer to what Bush was describing.
Certainly the Bush administration’s introduction of arrest and indefinite detention without charge or recourse to an attorney or the courts, his authorization of torture, his ramming through Congress of laws granting new police powers, and his two presidential campaigns’ successful efforts to subvert the election process, notably in Florida and Ohio, have "rolled back the democratic progress" in the U.S. His declaration of a so-called war on terror and his Homeland Security Department’s blatantly political use of terror alerts to divert public attention from his failures and various political crises have played to fear. His effort to introduce a neighborhood spy program (Operation TIPS), and his administration’s support for ethnically, racially and religiously-based arrests and round-ups of alleged "terror" suspects has "pitted neighbor against neighbor." Finally, if his response to the Katrina disaster in New Orleans wasn’t a case of "blaming others" for his own failure to provide for his people, I don’t know what was,
His comment was no doubt met with laughter and derision in Argentina, Brazil and other Latin American countries.
Sadly, it was simply reported without comment in this nation’s excuse for a news media.
DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled "This Can’t be Happening!" is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org