Monday, January 20, 2014

President Obama’s Upcoming (March 2011) Visit to Latin America

article from March 17, 2011
By Jamie Douglas

Promises Broken, Andean Trade Preference Act Ignored and Expired

A full two and a half years after President Obama promised President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva that he would visit as soon as possible, the president of the United States has finally found time to visit Brazil, the worlds eight largest – and growing – economy. I feel it has a lot to do with Brazil´s former president having been replaced with the US-friendlier face of Dilma Rousseff, who promptly appointed Antonio Patriota, a former Brazilian ambassador to Washington, as her minister of external relations (comparable to the secretary of state). Brazil’s economy has grown to 2.2 trillion US dollars, an astonishing amount, when one considers the Brazil of yesteryear, where one military dictatorship followed another, there was one bankruptcy after another and the country was a permanent resident at the foreign-aid trough.

Brazil has now become nearly energy self sufficient, with huge reserves that far outweigh is future potential consumption. Brazilian industry has become a powerhouse in the Aerospace industry and is becoming a leader in renewable and sustainable energy, as well as in the automotive and heavy industrial sector, and is the US’s 20th largest trading partner.

Yet, Obama has continued the US policy of benign neglect with respect to Latin American nations. He will spend one day in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, and one day in Rio de Janeiro, then fly off to a meeting with Chile’s billionaire President Sebastian Piñera, who, in the accustomed US style, bought his way into the presidency of his nation. (He seems to be doing an OK job.)

After that quick stop-and-chat, it is off to San Salvador, in El Salvador, a country that has been repeatedly plundered and devastated by US policies, just like its neighbors to the north, south and east.

Prominently missing from the US president’s itinerary are some other very important destinations, such as Argentina, where a US Air Force C-17 recently secretly landed at Buenos Aires Ezeiza Airport with heavy weaponry, ballistic armor and an assortment of psychotropic and combat-related medications – without the knowledge of President Christina Fernández de Kirchner, no less! Operation Condor all over? “It was for police training only,” was the official US response.

Also missing from that itinerary is Peru, a very mineral-rich country that could be even further exploited by US mining and oil companies, as well as Ecuador (probably too small and meaningless, since Chevron Texaco just lost a multibillion-dollar legal judgment there for poisoning thousands of hectares of indigenous Amazonian lands).

Colombia also will be over-flown, reminding me of George W. Bush’s sightseeing tour over the devastated city of New Orleans on Air Force One after Hurricane Katrina. I hope that Obama and whoever else is with him will at least have the decency to wave, maybe have the plane make a low pass over the region and wiggle its wings to acknowledge that they are there at least!

I guess that after letting the Andean Trade Preference Act expire without fanfare, it would be difficult for a US leader, who has shown such great promise to the region, to visit the nations that are most affected by the non-renewal of a pact that was an important source of revenue for Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador.

While visiting Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador, will the leader of the most powerful nation in the world address the gigantic social inequities that exist in those and all other countries of the hemisphere, where the richest 1 percent own virtually all the wealth of the nation? Sort of like the USA – oh, that’s right; he who lives in a glass house should not throw stones. What about he who lives in a house of cards consisting of trillions of dollars of US treasury bonds that are backed by hot air and former military might as well as the former respect and goodwill of the peaceful nations of the world?

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton missed another brilliant opportunity to mend fences with Argentina, the second most important country in South America, whose administration may just be reelected! Or is that why the US Air Force C-17 brought in those supplies?

This entire hemisphere could be like one big cohesive family, a family that, like all others, has its differences, which normally are settled at the dinner table, if it was not for the constant incompetent meddling of the USA and its lack of vision and knowledge of the region.

Jamie Douglas
Patagonia

I encourage you to write me at cruzansailor [at] gmail [dot] com with any questions or suggestions you may have. Disclaimer: I am not in any travel-related business. My advice is based on my own experiences and is free of charge (Donations welcome). It is always my pleasure to act as a beneficial counselor to those who are seekers of the next adventure.