Queeg’s Silver Balls

Latin American – delusion and reality
by toni solo
March 23, 2007

The irony of attacks on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez by cynical, sadistic country-wreckers like Condoleezza Rica and John Negroponte can be lost only on them. While Venezuela advances steadily towards prosperity and social equity, the Bush regime commits its extraordinary rendition of the US people to military disaster and falling living standards. Speaking to a Congressional hearing on February 7th this year, Rice declared, “”I do believe that the president of Venezuela is really, really destroying his own country, economically, politically.”(1)

People walked out on the fictional Captain Queeg (2) when he took out some silver balls on the court martial witness stand and proceeded to fidget with them as his testimony collapsed into paranoid mumblings. In real life, Prince of Delusion George W. Bush, has yet to face outright mutiny from his fellow dysfunctional political leaders. Presumably the motley corporate-behoven crew running the single party US ship of State are waiting until they and the rest of the world are in the lifeboats.

In Latin America people may be more tuned-in to reality. When respected mainstream political analyst and historian Luiz Moniz Bandeira publicy affirms that Brazil sees a US invasion of Amazonia as its main external military threat, the Bush regime’s jaded-Reaganaut State Department’s “freedom and democracy” rhetoric has clearly lost whatever slap-it-on-thick-maybe-they’ll-never-notice credibility it ever had. Although Bandeira discounts the likelihood of such an invasion, he says it is the main premise for the Brazilian army’s strategic planning. He notes, the US military “does not exist to defend its national frontiers but rather for planetary domination and aggression to secure sources of energy and raw materials.” (3)

Shifting the perspective

It is now commonplace to argue that the US government is engaged in a losing battle to defend its waning prestige and influence in Latin America. Only the spell of North America’s habitual narcissism renders that interpretation of much interest. Looked at from south of the Rio Grande, the potential breadth and depth of imperial collapse is perhaps less interesting than the nature, scale and ambition of the integration processes under way. If the US has lost influence, the wider imperialist global corporate Thing seems to have adapted well, mutating fast to continue its parasitic gorging on the peoples of Latin America.

Even so, when Captain Queeg toured five Latin American countries recently, his tour underlined the comprehensive failure of his regime’s feints at regional leadership. Serious high level visits by Chinese and Russian political leaders contrast with the contemptible, stagnant “do what we want, or else” corporate arrogance of US govenment diplomacy. In that context, the fact that China has prioritised Ecuador and Bolivia for increased oil and gas investment incentives to Chinese companies (4) is very much worth noting. When Russian and Chinese leaders visit Latin America they are pushing at a door to the imperial Bluebeard’s Castle the US government left poorly guarded, now prised wide open by the peoples once prisoners inside.

President Putin of Russia visited Cuba in 2000 and Mexico, Brazil and Chile in 2004. Chinese President Hu Jintao also made an extensive visit to Latin America in 2004. Russian Prime Minister Mijail Fradkov visited Brazil, Argentina and Chile in 2006. Just prior to Queeg’s Latin American jaunt, Russia’s vice-Foreign Minister Serguei Kisliak declared during a speech in Uruguay to the Association for Latin American Integration on March 9th “Russia wants to increase political and economic cooperation with the countries of Latin America”. (5)

The changing compass of Latin American diplomacy and the deep political conflicts its competing integration initiatives have engendered also indicate the extent to which people in Latin America are focusing on their own needs, leaving the North American imperial corporate plutocrat elite and their local allies to negotiate from relative weakness. 2007 has a sparse electoral calendar compared to the 2006 flurry of presidential elections. But the elections in Guatemala in November and those in Argentina in October will probably reveal a great deal about the durability of current trends against the legacy of twenty years of Washington Consensus economic policy, the latest stage in five centuries of colonial subjugation.

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