I can think of many things worse

I’m not sure in what spirit this article was written, but if it’s a spirit of regret for die Vergangenheit, the author really ought to reconsider. And count the blessings:

For decades, Latin America was referred to as the United States’ “backyard.” Today, such a statement could be regarded as reckless, since the United States appears to be losing allies by the handful in the region. Almost all of South America appears to be shifting to the left, partially because North America has abandoned the region, but also due to deception of native upper-class criollo [native] oligarchs.

A Washington Post article last week suggested that while the Bush Administration sinks deeper and deeper into Iraq, abandoning Latin America and contributing only a paltry sum of money in aid, Venezuelan Head-of-State Hugo Chavez distributes hundreds of millions of dollars to allied parties and governments throughout the hemisphere.


Talk about historical ironies. For decades, the United States sponsored corrupt military dictatorships in Latin America with no regard for establishing democracy or stimulating economic growth in the region. Now, Hugo Chavez finances parties with dubious democratic credentials, who are burdened by the resentment and confrontation between social classes. In this sense, the right seems to be more independent of Washington than the left appears to be of Caracas or Havana.

The United States isn’t “losing” Latin America. Rather, it is us, Latin Americans, who are losing our own countries, our own democracy, our own social peace, and our liberty.

(Footnote): In one day, the United States invests in Iraq the same amount that it will donate to Central America in an entire fiscal year. This figure dramatically reflects U.S. abandonment of the region.

(Italics as in the original.)

This ties in quite neatly, albeit not consciously, to this BBC article, in which the B-word (“backyard”) is also bandied about:

There is trouble ahead for Uncle Sam in his own backyard. Big trouble.

It is one of the most important and yet largely untold stories of our world in 2006. George W Bush has lost Latin America.

While the Bush administration has been fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, relations between the United States and the countries of Latin America have become a festering sore – the worst for years.

Virtually anyone paying attention to events in Venezuela and Nicaragua in the north to Peru and Bolivia further south, plus in different ways Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, comes to the same conclusion: there is a wave of profound anti-American feeling stretching from the Texas border to the Antarctic.

And almost everyone believes it will get worse.

President Bush came into office declaring that Latin America was a priority. That’s hardly surprising. It’s been a priority for every American president since James Monroe in 1823 whose “Monroe Doctrine” told European nations to keep out of Latin American affairs.

In pursuit of American interests, the US has overthrown or undermined around 40 Latin American governments in the 20th Century.

For his part, President Bush even suggested that the United States had no more important ally than… wait for it… Mexico.

None of that survived the attacks of 9/11.

Mr Bush launched his War on Terror and re-discovered the usefulness of allies like Britain.

While Washington’s attention turned to al-Qaeda, the Taleban, Iraq and now Iran, in country after county in Latin America voters chose governments of the left, sometimes the implacably “anti-gringo” left, loudly out of sympathy with George Bush’s vision of the world, and reflecting a continent with the world’s greatest gulf between rich and poor.

Now, the Beeb’s author is making this sound like a Very Bad Thing. Why? Certainly I don’t get the impression that the poor of Latin America have any regrets about it all. If they did, they’d be casting the ballots with one hand and holding their noses with the other, and the “anti-American” (actually PRO-American, in the sense of being pro-Latin America, and therefore anti-Bush and anti-interference) candidates wouldn’t have the convincing leads (and in many cases, outright majorities) that they do. That’s not happening. Instead, they’re all apparently thanking heaven that Bush’s attention is elsewhere. And that’s quite the change from 20 years ago.

For those whose memories need refreshing, I offer the following link: Rotten.com’s inimitable summary of the Iran-Contra scandal. Now, this was Washingtonian interference at its scungiest. It allowed the proliferation of all kinds of terrorists: Orlando Bosch, Luis Posada Carriles, and a vast assortment of pseudonymous drug-traffickers who, with the CIA’s connivance and co-operation, were able to ignite the devastating inner-city crack cocaine epidemic of the latter 1980s. All of this was covered beautifully by the late Gary Webb, whose collection of articles, Dark Alliance, is a classic of investigative reporting (and also damn hard to find anymore, even used, at least up in my neck of the woods. Thank heaven, therefore, for the Internets!)

The Contras were styled by Reagan’s propagandists as “freedom fighters”, but they were the polar opposite of that. As their training manual revealed, they were well versed in tactics that would, by any reasonable standard, be called terrorism.

Of course, right-wingers not being reasonable, they persisted in referring to the Contras as “freedom fighters” long after it became clear to the rest of the world that freedom was the last thing these cockroaches would ever fight for. Some poor dumbfucks are still calling them that. Probably because the same terrorist tactics used then, are still in use today–most notably in Abu Ghraib. And we all know how they are about the difference between a rape room under Saddam, and one under the US Armed Forces…

Oh, and get this: A leading financier of those phony “freedom fighters” was none other than Hugo Chavez’s would-be nemesis, Pat Robertson. (Quick refresher on his past dalliances with strong-armed dictators–real oneshere.)

So…Uncle Sam’s “backyard” is Uncle Sam’s no longer. Oh, and it’s not the backyard, either. It’s called Latin America, and it’s steering a new course that looks suspiciously like its very own. Poor rightards–and after all that hard work, too! Now they’re seeing it slip out of their clutches because they’re too busy dealing with blowback from other black ops gone seriously awry…

The only other people bemoaning this situation (besides the Miami “Cuban exiles”, who like to foment anti-leftist sentiment and terrorism, even in places that shouldn’t concern them) are the local pro-Washington elites and oligarchs, who are accustomed to selling out their country and banking their share of the spoils (in US dollars, naturally) elsewhere. And who spend so much time in Southern Florida that they might as well call themselves gringos. For them, the glory days of easy, pilfered money and all the undeserved power it could buy are history. For them, nothing less than the world’s smallest violin will do…

The poor folk they used to trample, however, can think of many things worse. So can I.

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