FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush Goes to Latin America

by CHRISTOPHER FONS

Again and again we hear from the Bush Administration, the pundit class and others of the illuminati that the problem with the rest of the world is that they really don’t know about all the good things that the United States does in the world and all they need to do is dig a little, listen to the Voice of America, a Karen Hughes press conference and all the hate against the US would go away. I think some of the liberal folk over at NPR actually believe this line.

Here’s how National Public Radio reported President Bush’s trip to Latin America this week. According to Adam Davidson, NPR’s crack All Things Considered reporter (March 8, 2007), the US has a public relations problem in Latin America, why?, because after 9/11 all “we” ever want to talk about in relation to Latin America is trade and democracy, and when Latin Americans hear these words they hear oligarchy and imperialism. So far so good right?, well no, because that’s where Davidson leaves it, no discussion of whether or not Latin American fears are justified, no discussion of the actual policies of the US or the Bush Administration or even a cursory look at US, uh, imperialism and support for oligarchs, just the statement that the US has a public relations problem and a quote from Bush to this affect.

After identifying the problem for “us” Davidson, with expert in tow, then explores the “real” issue, for the Bush trip to Latin America, Hugo Chavez. And boy is that Hugo a PR juggernaut, convincing the easily led masses of the South and beyond with his silver tongue and easy money. Analysis of Chavez’s understanding of the economic and political problems of Latin American literally gets a belly laugh from our expert. We then are given an interpretation of the belly laugh by our Muckraker Davidson-Chavez has lots of money because of the high price of oil and he is spreading that money around giving “colorful speeches” and Bush has been nowhere to counter the well hued spendthrift. Because of this the Latin American street has decidedly moved into the Hugo camp. But no need to fret, according to our expert, because international relations are like a Risk game and Columbia, Mexico, Central America and the Latin American elite are still in “our” camp. Now, I have no beef against jazzing up the news a bit but belly laughs, Risk analogies and talk of dazzling speechifying are what pass for analysis on the nation’s news channel? And there is nothing to say about the actual policies of the revolution in Venezuela where oil revenues, land and power are actually being re-distributed by the state? Where the state is actually being re-organized so that power is no longer solely in the hands of the white and mestizo capitalist elite? Is it really only about public relations?

Just a few reasons why the Latin American street might be a little irritated with the US and Bush:

Bush supports the IMF and World Bank which have engineered the neo-liberal regime that has accelerated the already unequal distribution of wealth and power that exists across the region and which also then subscribes the “cure” of privatization and liberalization of trade which exacerbate inequality even more.

Bush supports democracy when the democracy returns the desired result-more political and economic power to the oligarchs, liberalization and privatization-and if the desired result is not obtained the heavy hand, of yes, imperialism, will emerge in the form of funding for propaganda campaigns, liberal parties, sometimes populist challenges, death squads, coups, brutal counter-insurgency campaigns that kill thousands of innocents, military dictatorship, and outright invasion on too many occasions to count.

Bush thinks of the region as a “backyard,” a place that has historically been a provider of slave labor, wage-slave labor, natural resources, strategic outposts, toxic waste dumps and markets (financial and otherwise) for the elites of the North.

People in Latin America don’t need Hugo Chavez to tell them that they have been screwed over by the US and international capital. The indigenous people of Guatemala, Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, Columbia, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil know that the US has consistently sided with the white elite to use them as vassals on the plantation that was/is their country. The African people of the Caribbean, Central America, Columbia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and Brazil don’t need Hugo Chavez to tell them that they were chattel for at least 400 years and that they have been systematically left out of the meager pie that has been created by capitalism in the region. The campesinos, workers, trade unionists, teachers, radical priests and sisters, socialists, social democrats, liberals, communists, populists and other progressives don’t need Hugo Chavez to tell them that they have gone through the meat grinder of torture, disappearance, wholesale slaughter, and counter-insurgency at the hands of the militaries of their countries that get most of their training, supplies and guidance from the Pentagon and the School of the Americas.

Davidson’s report is just a symptom of the larger problem of how most get our information about Latin America or any other issue for that matter. The liberal folk at NPR really like this type of report because it has a facade of irreverence and criticism but actually it does little but re-iterate the message that, fill in the blank Administration, want out there. No historical analysis, no explanation of how power is actually wielded, no larger economic context, really not much of anything but clever banter that in the end serves power well.

CHRISTOPHER FONS teaches US history in Milwaukee and runs the Red and the Black website. He can be reached at: fonscy@yahoo.com

 

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
February 23, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Richard D. Wolff
Capitalism as Obstacle to Equality and Democracy: the US Story
Paul Street
Where’s the Beef Stroganoff? Eight Sacrilegious Reflections on Russiagate
Jeffrey St. Clair
They Came, They Saw, They Tweeted
Andrew Levine
Their Meddlers and Ours
Charles Pierson
Nuclear Nonproliferation, American Style
Joseph Essertier
Why Japan’s Ultranationalists Hate the Olympic Truce
W. T. Whitney
US and Allies Look to Military Intervention in Venezuela
John Laforge
Maybe All Threats of Mass Destruction are “Mentally Deranged”
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: an American Reckoning
David Rosen
For Some Reason, Being White Still Matters
Robert Fantina
Nikki Haley: the U.S. Embarrassment at the United Nations
Joyce Nelson
Why Mueller’s Indictments Are Hugely Important
Joshua Frank
Pearl Jam, Will You Help Stop Sen. Tester From Destroying Montana’s Public Lands?
Dana E. Abizaid
The Attack on Historical Perspective
Conn Hallinan
Immigration and the Italian Elections
George Ochenski
The Great Danger of Anthropocentricity
Pete Dolack
China Can’t Save Capitalism from Environmental Destruction
Joseph Natoli
Broken Lives
Manuel García, Jr.
Why Did Russia Vote For Trump?
Geoff Dutton
One Regime to Rule Them All
Torkil Lauesen – Gabriel Kuhn
Radical Theory and Academia: a Thorny Relationship
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Work of Persuasion
Thomas Klikauer
Umberto Eco and Germany’s New Fascism
George Burchett
La Folie Des Grandeurs
Howard Lisnoff
Minister of War
Eileen Appelbaum
Why Trump’s Plan Won’t Solve the Problems of America’s Crumbling Infrastructure
Ramzy Baroud
More Than a Fight over Couscous: Why the Palestinian Narrative Must Be Embraced
Jill Richardson
Mass Shootings Shouldn’t Be the Only Time We Talk About Mental Illness
Jessicah Pierre
Racism is Killing African American Mothers
Steve Horn
Wyoming Now Third State to Propose ALEC Bill Cracking Down on Pipeline Protests
David Griscom
When ‘Fake News’ is Good For Business
Barton Kunstler
Brainwashed Nation
Griffin Bird
I’m an Eagle Scout and I Don’t Want Pipelines in My Wilderness
Edward Curtin
The Coming Wars to End All Wars
Missy Comley Beattie
Message To New Activists
Jonah Raskin
Literary Hubbub in Sonoma: Novel about Mrs. Jack London Roils the Faithful
Binoy Kampmark
Frontiersman of the Internet: John Perry Barlow
Chelli Stanley
The Mirrors of Palestine
James McEnteer
How Brexit Won World War Two
Ralph Nader
Absorbing the Irresistible Consumer Reports Magazine
Cesar Chelala
A Word I Shouldn’t Use
Louis Proyect
Marx at the Movies
Osha Neumann
A White Guy Watches “The Black Panther”
Stephen Cooper
Rebel Talk with Nattali Rize: the Interview
David Yearsley
Market Music
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail