State’s new vision for the Americas


It doesn’t seem to matter if the US administration is Republican or Democrat. Either way, Latin America gets the shaft.

Republican administrations war against drug traffickers, terrorists and communists in the region. They pay lip service to trade expansion, but since all politics is local they are prone to heed constituents who warn against letting more “musius” into the US market. Many Republicans also want to kick all the “frijoleros” out of Gringolandia, as long as it doesn’t disrupt business.

Many of this blogger’s Venezuelan friends cheered the election of a Democratic president, although many believed that Hillary Clinton was the better candidate. But no matter, they were certain that relations between the US and Latin America just had to get much better with a Democrat president.

But now some of these Venezuelan friends are having a “what the f***!” moment as they evaluate the Latin America policy which US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has quietly rolled out in recent weeks.

There’s no denying that US foreign policy towards Latin America has been in desperate need of new ideas and proposals in recent years.

Since the Cold War’s end, successive US administrations (Bush, Clinton, Bush) have laid out Latin America policies that included these elements:

*Expanding hemispheric trade (NAFTA, FTAA, FTA’s with Chile, Central America, etc).

*The war on drugs (Colombia and Mexico, tens of thousands of corpses have piled up and billions of dolalrs have been spent, but one can still score rock cocaine outside Union Station in DC, just across Massachussetts Avenue from Congress).

*Bringing democracy to Cuba. Possibly the only US foreign policy goal enacted into Law (Helms-Burton Act).

*Strengthening democracy and human rights in the region. Bla-bla-bla…Of course, Chavez and gang (Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and the enduring Cuban regime) represent mainly a democratically elected trend towards hard anti-American Marxist populism.

Since 1990, successive US presidents, secretaries of state, assistant secretaries of state, trade officials have made thousands of speeches laying out US strategic and economic goals in the Americas.

As a reporter and analyst, we’ve read hundreds of speech transcripts posted at various US government websites. At their core, they all sound very much alike, which may signal a reassuring consistency of policy but at same time could reflect the absence of original thinking and innovative policymaking, both of which are vigorously discouraged at State by tradition.

But the Obama administration has made some important adjustments. Visit the State Department’s interactive multi-media website.

Welcome, Bienvenidos, Bienvenue…

Listen carefully to Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela as he lists the “key priorities” that the current US administration views as being the most important in Latin America:

“…citizen safety, strengthening democratic institutions and the rule of law, economic and social inclusion, energy, climate change and things like that…”

…and things like that.

Whatever happened to trade expansion and immigration, or combating drug traffickers and terrorists, or Cuba, or undercutting efforts by the Chavez/Castro alliance to spread revolution and instability regionally, and things like that?

Instead, says Valenzuela, “We find ourselves at a very promising moment in the Americas…welcome to our web site.”

There’s a lot more detail about the Obama administration’s “new vision for Latin America” in the speech Madame Clinton gave in Quito this week.

Quoting Secretary Clinton, there are “four pillars of our vision for the Americas” (unclear if “our” refers to her personally, to President Obama or something else):

One: “Effective and accountable institutions of democratic governance.”

Two: “Physical security for our citizens.”

Three: “Move toward that future of clean, renewable energy, be better stewards of the earth as we continue to extract the fossil fuels that we still need, and tackle the climate change and environmental threats we face.”

Four: “As Simon Bolivar said, the fundamental basis of our political system hinges directly and exclusively upon the establishment and practice of equality.”

One way to foster equality is to tax the rich at higher rates, adds Clinton in her speech.

No point in ranting about the speech. But it appears to this blogger that the Obama administration thinks that Latin America is the “progressive” (i.e. a Gringo buzzword meaning, roughly, Enlightened Lite Socialist) equivalent of a laboratory where tests are run on rats and monkeys. How else to explain the emptiness and inadequacy of this new US “vision” for the Americas?

But try telling that to a Gringo, especially if you are a Latinoamericano.

“It’s impossible to discuss anything rationally with you Gringos,” says a Venezuelan friend who served as an Ambassador in the US (not Diego).

Really? Por que?

“Because all you Gringos think you’re perfect and know more than everyone else,” our friend snapped back.

Yeah, it’s a bummer for sure, my Venezuelan friends have been telling me that for years.

3 thoughts on “State’s new vision for the Americas

  1. Where do you find the time? The last few posts have been excellent reading.

    You made me angry, sad, apathetic, and mortified in your last few posts. Is it hopeless? How can we as Venezuelans change this politically? Or must we go through this? I feel like I am on a train going 200 kph and can not get off. I know there is a steep curve coming and the train is going to jump the tracks but I can not jump off either.

    What a mess!

    Like this

  2. No teeth,,,,just alot of apologies and desire to introduce “America Light” which we hope the rest of the world finds more palatable. The results,,,,countries like China criticize the U.S. for human rights abuses. In regards to Venezuela, it seems likely one of two scenarios play out regardless of any policy shifts coming out of Wahington. 1)Cubazuela, 2) Coup and bloodshed. Similar to the way the fatman entered office, so will be the way he exits. The remaining citizens will eventually decide. Meanwhile, the world passes by Venezuela while occassionally rubber-necking the disaster that has unfolded under Chavez.

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  3. C.G. is correct about the lack of original thinking in the U.S. State Department. I spent many years around (though not connected to) U.S. Missions abroad. Before that, I had an image in my mind of U.S. diplomats that was of very intelligent, urbane, and sophisticated people. In fact, it is quite the opposite. You would expect that Foreign Service Officers would at least be people who have better than average social skills. Wrong again.

    U.S. DOS is in dire need of being rebuilt from the top down.

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