Thursday, March 08, 2007


For quite some time I have been following the articles of Mr. Andres Oppenheimer who writes about Latin American politics in the Miami Herald.

While I disagree with many of his concepts and certainly never expected him to be absolutely objective it was a surprise for me to see him come out of the closet in his last article, Memo to Bush, and align himself with the feverish and most conservative forces of our political establishment; The same forces that represent and promote everything that has been wrong with our foreign policy in the region.

I feel compelled therefore to comment and expose the manipulative concepts and proposals expressed in this ill conceived imaginary letter.

The following is my first comment to the concepts and proposals expressed in that letter.


I am glad that you are not an advisor or even someone who Bush listens to; if he indeed listens to anyone.

I am sad though to find out the limited scope of your strategic vision towards Latin America and certainly in awe at the stereotypes you portray and the ridiculous, to say the least, concepts expressed in your letter.


Let me start by saying that your choice of words to address the president (”Dear Mr. President”) in itself denotes a certain weakness for servitude. By using the word “Dear” you come across as a groupie instead of a corporate leader. Believe me when I say that no corporate leader in Mr. Bush’s inner circle would show that kind of attitude.

“Mr. President” alone would have been not only proper but certainly more suitable and smart since, as a corporate leader, you would want to make sure that eventually you don’t have to regret calling “Dear” someone who most likely will be regarded as the worst president in the history of the United States.

While the above is merely a cosmetic critic to that imaginary Bush “wannabe groupie” you so warmly portray in your letter, it does show your lack of understanding of the relationship between US politics and corporate America.

Of a bigger concern to me though are the following comments in your letter because they are not only wrong and to a certain extent offensive but indeed because they epitomize and promote the contradictions between opposite positions of political stereotypes that do not represent the main stream thinking either in the US or Latin America. In that sense you and Chavez do come across as very much alike.

Comment # 1: …”the Democratic Party will accuse you in the 2008 election campaign of having ''lost'' Latin America.”

You can not loose what you never had, never pursued and most certainly will never have; As in the letter of the song “Prohibido Olvidar” by Ruben Blades, ... “cada nacion depende del corazon de su gente y un pais que no se vende, nadie lo podra comprar” ... (each nation relies on the heart of its people and a country that is not for sale will never be bought).

I am deeply sorry that you have such a poor opinion of Latin America and hate to be the one who breaks the news to you but the fact is that Latin America is not for sale Mr. Oppenheimer and we certainly are not out on a shopping spree.

Therefore, your inaccurate portrayal of the United States looking upon Latin America as a possession as well as your wrong, over simplistic and malicious, to say the least, portrayal of corporate America even in an imaginary letter such as the one you have published in the Miami Herald is offensive both to Latin Americans and to us, Americans.

While I will concede that there are some corporate leaders as well as conservative politicians in the United States that have a feudalistic vision of international relations, both political and economic, by far the majority of corporate leaders, politicians and the people of the United States favor and believe on international relations that are based on mutual benefit and respect.

If at all, your “Dear Mr. President” and some of his closest collaborators may very well be the only ones left that believe otherwise.

Further, we are people who learn from our mistakes, we are not afraid to change and we are very good at adapting to new conditions. We are aware of the risks and challenges that the US and the world will have to face in the near future; the potential impact of global warming in the productivity of the land; the potential impact of diminishing energy resources on the world economy; the potential impact of pandemics etc.

We are also aware of the ever increasing inter-dependency between the US and its neighbors in the Americas. Of the risks that an antibiotic resistant strain of TBC, nurtured by misery and inadequate health standards, can pose to everyone in the continent; of the corrosive influence that drug trafficking has on institutions throughout the Americas; of the pervasive impact that endemic poverty has on the stability of all the Americas, etc.

We are aware of all this, we acknowledge that some of these problems have been exacerbated by our wrong policies in the region and we are working on creative solutions to solve those problems as well as on new policies that are fair and adequate for the times we live.

We may be greedy but we are not a bunch of stupid and voracious pilferers. Even when we abuse our power we do have a sense of purpose and while protecting our best interest is certainly the prevailing motivation behind our policies and actions we always have the common good at heart; however short-sighted or biased our perception of such might be.

Comment # 2: …”The Republican Party will need some big time damage control in the region”…
There is no need for damage control because nothing has been damaged. On the contrary, perhaps the only success story of the Bush presidency is his policy or, I should say, his lack of policy towards Latin America.

By doing nothing and leaving Latin America alone the region has been able to come off age, grow up and develop a sense of pride and self respect that is not only positive but indeed in the best interest of the US.

Portraying Latin American countries and presidents as good and bad based on a manipulative linear distribution of left and right is not only absurd but has absolutely no meaning for the US.

Though we are openly critical of autocratic and totalitarian leaders such as Castro and Chavez, this is certainly not the case of other Socialist presidents throughout the region. All the other socialist presidents are working to better the life and well being of their people. They are doing it within democratic governments, preserving democratic institutions and without curtailing the basic freedoms of their people.

We respect that and while we may disagree with their political options there is no reason whatsoever why we should not support and work with them in areas of mutual interest. After all, while from an ideological standpoint we could not be farther apart from China, they are still our main trade partner.

Promoting the senseless and self serving concept that right is good and left is bad is not on the best interest of Latin America or the United States. It is though in the best interest of extremists of all kinds both in the US and Latin America with whom, I am sorry to say, you seem to feel very cozy.

Comment # 3: “To reverse this trend and restore the U.S. image as an engine of social progress”….
Don’t say what is not true. We may be an engine of technological and even economic advancement but we are well behind when it comes to social progress. We know what we are and we know what we lack. We do not need people to tell us that we are something we are not.

Stop trying to be more American than Americans. It makes you look bad and it certainly will not make you earn our respect. We only respect those who respect themselves.

As for your proposals, some of which I find just ludicrous, I will also be posting comments on your blog and exposing them while you are traveling through out Latin America.

As a token of those comments I will leave you with the following thought.

Your proposal of colonizing Latin America with our elders while luring the young working force and professionals from Latin America to the US seems like a policy inspired by the “Parricide” beliefs of the Eskimo tribes and a gullible definition for economic slavery.

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