Gotta love that Andres Oppenheimer (she said, dripping heavy sarcasm). The Miami Herald’s resident narcissist-wankerist was down in Paraguay this week to ask stupid questions of the new president, Fernando Lugo, and to get some sensible, if frustratingly (for the Schloppenheimer, anyway) nuanced answers:
Another newspaper, Ultima Hora, said that same day that Lugo “has once said that his model to follow was the government of (Uruguay’s President) Tabare Vazquez. But he’s looking more and more like Hugo Chavez.”
When I read him that paragraph, Lugo laughed and asked, “In what? I believe that the governments that … could be a guiding light to us are those of Uruguay and Chile. They are serious governments. With that, I’m not saying that others aren’t serious, but these governments have taken economic and political measures that could serve as examples.”
Asked about the political crisis in neighboring Bolivia, which has already resulted in more than 16 deaths, Lugo fully supported Bolivian President Evo Morales and seemed to put all the blame of the bloodshed on the four opposition state governors who are resisting what they say are Morales’ unconstitutional measures to impose his socialist revolution.
But, on the other hand, Lugo distanced himself from Morales’ and Chavez’s claims that the U.S. “empire” is backing the opposition governors in an effort to destabilize Bolivia. “Many have remained stuck in the mindset of the 1970s, of seeing the empire behind even the smallest things that happen in the country. I don’t see things that way,” Lugo said.
I think Lugo forgot a word that should be tacked onto the end of that last sentence: YET. Just wait and see, Lugo…as soon as you start to make real progress in Paraguay, you, too, will be victim to the Empire’s use of local proxies in an attempt to unseat you and replace you with someone more amenable. It should behoove you now to look at where Paraguay’s greatest assets lie, and make note of who’s sitting on top of them, because that’s the best indication of who the proxies will be and where they will come from. You’ve already seen one sector show its hand–the right-wing element in the Paraguayan military. There will be others; you can bet on it.
Aside from that, though, it’s hilarious to see the Schloppenheimer trying to draw artificial lines through South America–you’re either with Chavez, or you’re with “us”. No Latin American president actually sees it that way, not even Chavecito himself. He’d be more than happy to have better relations with the US, but by now he knows exactly how many times they’ve tried to oust him. And so does Evo. And so will Rafael Correa of Ecuador, as soon as things really start rolling towards the referendum to ratify the new Ecuadorian constitution. There will be disruptions, they will come from the right-wing oligarchs of Ecuador on the surface of things, but underneath it all, you will see evidence of a gringo hand. Every Latin American leader who has tried to reform his or her country in any serious, fundamental way has seen the gringo hand. And that’s not just some “mindset of the 1970s”, it’s the sad fact of how it’s always been, ever since the Monroe Doctrine was written.
In the end, the gringo hand will fail; the artificial lines through Latin America won’t hold. Progressive leaders in the region, whether “radical” or “moderate” (such silly, meaningless designations Washington imposes), use integration and solidarity to help each other resist interference and clientelism. They all respect each other’s sovereignty; what a concept! Chavecito is happy to help Ecuador and Paraguay, whether they join the ALBA or not; Lula of Brazil is happy to enter into joint oil ventures with PDVSA, with no political impositions either way; Chile is on good terms with Venezuela and Bolivia; Honduras has joined the ALBA even though it’s not a socialist country. Any attempt to charge Chavecito with socialist imperialism in the region will fall flat under a hail of derisive laughter. He doesn’t even attach political strings to the cheap oil he provides to low-income areas in the US! All he stipulates is that it go directly to benefit the poor, and the local authorities see that it’s done. It makes Big Oil wail and gnash its teeth, but the locals, regardless of their political inclinations (or lack thereof), appreciate the help.
The fact that the US has turned its back on anyone it can’t exploit–or tried to overthrow anyone who gets in the way–hasn’t exactly turned the locals in favor of the gringos, either. But don’t look to Andres Oppenheimer to report that. His job is to draw artificial lines through Latin America, and to make you foolishly believe in them.