Tuesday, March 13, 2007


For quite some time I have been following the articles of Mr. Andres Oppenheimer who writes about Latin American politics at 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 second, out of three, comment to the concepts and proposals expressed in that letter.

Following on my first comment to your imaginary memo addressed to Mr. Bush and published in the Miami Herald on March 04 let me further expand my thoughts on the proposals you include in that document.

The main problem with all your proposals, over and above the fact that they are not well thought, is the underlying implicit policy in which they are based on.

From the reading of your letter it is clear that you advocate for the continuation of a foreign policy in Latin America based on slogans, false speeches and welfare but no realistic long term solutions to the problems of the region. This, even though it is clear that those problems have already started to affect us and have the potential, God forbid, of causing very real national emergencies in the US.

This, without even considering the Geo-economic challenges in the uncertain years to come that most likely will force us to raise Latin America to the category of vital ally.

You seem to believe that the old speech, “People of this country; I bring a message for you” is good enough for a foreign policy as long as you give away some cash to back it up.


Well, I have news for you, it is not enough. Latin Americans are not stupid and we can not afford to play games anymore because too much is at stake.

Further, the US is not alone anymore in using cute slogans like “I bring a message for you” wrapped on dollar bills for a foreign policy. We are facing real competition from what Moises Naim, Editor in Chief of Foreign Policy calls “rogue aid providers” the likes of Venezuela, China and even Iran. While I am not sure that our aid to Latin America doesn’t fall within Mr. Naim’s definition, I am absolutely certain that our past aid to all kind of despots and tyrants as well as our current aid to Pakistan certainly does.

What Latin America expects from a US foreign policy Mr. Oppenheimer is respect. This means eliminating the upper hand and paternalistic definition of Latin America as a welfare region, which obviously you favor, and in turn treating Latin American countries as partners.

Straight forward partners that make their intentions and expectations clear. Partners that work together not out of love or compassion but indeed out of pure, cold and unmistakable interest.

Partners that decide to work together because they will both benefit from the relationship. Partners that realize and accept that they are not equals - only a stupid would believe that the US would even consider renouncing to its superpower status - but, partners that can certainly treat each other with equal respect.

Latin American countries may be poor but they have dignity. They are not a charity case; they do not need us to keep meddling in their internal affairs; they do not need compassion and they certainly deserve much more than a US president traveling throughout the region, like a Conquistador, giving away small mirrors and confetti.

Having laid down the basic problem with your ill thought proposals for Latin America I will continue posting comments on your blog addressing each one of those proposals.

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