In Latin America: ‘Death to Uncle Sam’
By: Slater Bakhtavar
Recently President Bush went on a six nation South American tour, a region to which both the Clinton and Bush administrations have failed to spend sufficient time and resources. His visit was a progressive move in the right direction but many experts have claimed the visit was too little and too late. The division between the North and the South of the Americas has flourished in recent years. Since the election of Hugo Chavez in 1998 three-quarter of the nations in Latin America have shifted to the left. The winds of change has turned the region into a hotbed of anti-Americanism.
In Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez, the vibrant and resilient firebrand tyrant has made it his mission to unseat American power in the region. Since coming to the helm he has taunted the United States, ridiculed the President, undermined American efforts in the region and attempted to cripple American interests. President Hugo Chavez famously said before the United States General Assembly in New York that the US administration, especially one led by the Bush Administration, is one run by the devil and belongs in hell. His mission has been to forge an alliance of leftist governments in the region. Unfortunately Washington did not initially pay attention, but it seems to be doing so now. Venezuela has substantially increased economical, cultural and political ties with Iran, China and Russia. Presently, Chavez sits atop the largest oil reserves in the world and is the United Statesâ€™ fourth largest supplier. He has taken advantage of every political situation to benefit his leftist ideology and to promote similar movements in the region.
In Brazil, disdain for the United States has been building for decades. Several days after the 9/11 attacks a prominent economist even claimed that the American far right was behind the attack to justify a take over of other nations. This form of anti-Americanism is not restricted to parties on the left: even the parties on the right are against American policy. President Luiz InÃ¡cio Lula da Silva and President Bush recently signed an initiative to combat bio-diesel, but this form of cooperation is limited. Brazilâ€™s retired ambassador to the United States recently said policy at Brazil’s Foreign Ministry was increasingly being dictated by a group of short-sighted, anti-American leftists. Former ambassador Roberto Abdenur, 64, said that a â€œshort-sighted group filled with anti-Americanism is controlling foreign policy in Brazil.â€ In fact, anti-Americanism has grown so high in Brazil that according to a poll by a respected poll organization IBOPE: â€œPresident Bush received a lower approval rating than Saddam Hussein.â€
In Argentina, President Nestor Kirchner recently pledged to strengthen ties with Hugo Chavez and move towards a more pro-Socialist government. He assured the virulent anti-American Venezuelan President that he would never succumb to United States pressure and he considers Chavez to be a loyal friend. He assured an alliance among Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil to counter any form of interference while vowing that no country can divide the friendship between Argentina and Venezuela.
In Cuba, Fidel Castro, the symbolic hero of Communism, has been stricken with cancer, but his ideological system rages on through Raul Castro, his youngest brother. Cuba suffers from widespread economic and social problems, but Venezuela has promised to assist the Communist nationâ€™s crippling economic system with oil and gas reserves. The optimistic proposition that Cuba will flourish into a democratic paradise after the fall of Castro will not transpire, if other nations in the region supporting the transition to another leftist leader in Cuba are not confronted.
In Bolivia, President Eva Morales recently forged a close alliance with Hugo Chavez, vowing to keep a tide of friendship between the two nations. President Morales says he wants good relations with the United States, but that seems to be more rhetoric than concrete axiom, since Bolivia is one of few nations strengthening ties with nations like Syria and Iran. Since coming to power Morales, has filled his top cabinet positions with indigenous members whom he forbids to speak English . He has endorsed the coca leaf, a leaf traditionally cultivated and used to combat altitude sickness, but from which modern times cocaine is refined. Illicit drugs such as cocaine are used by terrorist groups to fund their underground operations.
It is not just the negative sentiments these countries vow towards the United States that is alarming, but also the alliances they are forging with terror sponsoring nations. Recently Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia met with leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran hoping to forge closer relations Fidel Castro said of Iranian President Ahmadinejad that he is “increasing its ability to fight big powers by the day.” Mr. Ahmadinejad has said he is “hopeful of a new wave of revolution and increased cooperation” between Iran and Cuba. Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has defended Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy and declared that Iran and Venezuela are like “brothers who fight for a just world.”
Fortunately, the United States still has some allies in Latin America, including President AlvÃ¡ro Uribe in Colombia, President Calderon in Mexico and a couple of other scattered allies, but the alliances are slim, If the United States does not pay attention to the growth of the far left in Latin America, there is a strong possibility of a powerful alliance between anti-American regimes in Latin America and those scattered elsewhere. The United States has a chance to promote pro-American movements in the region by reaching out to the people of Latin America, promoting cultural exchange programs, promoting technological exchanges, broadening business transactions, and collaborating on foreign policy initiatives. The United States needs to take a bold, aggressive step before the entire region is engulfed by the radical left.