Obama for a “Second Time” and Latin Americans With No Illusions

Surfing the internet of about three dozen on line Latin American newspapers, I found that the reaction of the continent to the re-election of Barack Obama is generally positive, though far from any illusions.

Virtually all analysts agree that of the two candidates, who fought for the highest office in the United States, Obama is preferable. He seems to be predictable. Over the previous four years in the White House, he has shown what he is capable of.

The Republican Mitt Romney is seen by many as a dangerous «reissue» of George W. Bush, and his cowboy style practices in international relations. There is no doubt that Romney would have gone back to putting together an alliance on the continent of «good guys» versus «bad guys», which would include «populist leaders.»

For today’s Latin America, which is implementing various integration projects, such confrontational politics, is of course, unacceptable.

What is the «populist» reaction to the re-election of Obama? Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega refrained from personal comment. Rosario Murillo, the president’s wife, who often acts as spokesperson congratulated Barack Obama and the American people on behalf of the Government of Nicaragua.

Without any emotion which would be customary in such cases, she expressed hopes of an improvement in bilateral relations. The Sandinistas have never trusted the United States, so in this case refrained from lyrical improvisations.

The U.S. Ambassador Phyllis Powers, not having had time to really acclimatize to the country, has repeatedly tried to direct the Sandinista leadership in the ways of «proper democracy.» So the fire in the relationship is strong, and it is not Ortega`s fault.

In a televised speech Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa admitted that he had closely followed the pre-election events in the USA and from the beginning «preferred» Obama of the two candidates. He described the US President as a «person of extraordinary qualities and a great man,» but described U.S. foreign policy as «inert, and change which will take many years.»

Correa personally telephoned U.S. Ambassador Adam Namm, congratulated him on Obama`s victory and expressed the hope that in the near future he will be able to do it in person. Beyond the short telephone conversation with Namm very much remained undiscussed.

The biggest problem in bilateral relations is the subversive activities of U.S. intelligence in Ecuador. Their main task is to prevent the re-election of Correa in February 2013. The Ecuadorian «encourages» the strengthening of the country’s relations with China and Russia, believes in the development of normal relations with Iran, and is committed to the consolidation of ALBA – Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America.

Correa has consistently warned his supporters about the threat of destabilization, actions of sabotage, and the activation of a «fifth column”. The Ecuadorian`s loyalty was demonstrated in a conversation with the U.S. ambassador when he indicated his readiness to enter into a civilized dialogue in the search for mutually acceptable solutions on outstanding issues.

The Bolivian President Evo Morales said «I could not sleep, watching the voting process in the United States on TV.» According to him, the winner was determined not so much by the popular vote, as to influential financiers of the election campaign – the bankers and representatives of the MIC.

Morales also mentioned that Obama won with the votes of naturalized Latinos. The Bolivian recommended that Obama «thank» them by lifting the economic blockade against Cuba, as well as the return of numerous criminals who sought refuge in the U.S. after committing crimes in their own countries.

Of course, the first one Morales has in mind is the ex-President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, who in 2003 gave a criminal order to shoot protesters. 70 people died and 400 were injured. Lozada fled to the United States, and Washington has categorically refused all extradition requests.

As before, Morales is sure, that the U.S. would use the fight against drugs to discredit his government in the international arena. Morales is ready for a protracted confrontation with Washington. Furthermore, he stated that, if necessary he will «close» the U.S. Embassy in the country.

Only a few weeks ago, Chavez said: «If I were a North American, I would have voted for Obama.» During his campaign Romney tried to demonize Chavez and his regime, stressing that the Venezuelan president «wants to harm the United States» and is «a threat to peace.»

Obama chose to take the Chavez topic beyond the election debate. He stated that «Venezuela, like all sovereign nations, should choose their own destiny, and only the people should determine its path to democracy.»

Obama also said that Chavez «is not a threat to the national security» of the U.S. This is quite pragmatic: Venezuela consistently and reliably delivers hydrocarbons to the United States. It is not engaged in exporting revolution.

Moreover, its preferential agreements with Caribbean and Central American countries in the energy sector contribute to economic stability in the Western Hemisphere. The apparent softening of Obama’s position against the Bolivarian regime Chavez sees as calming. The hostility of the United States remains. One must be prepared for any future eventuality.

There has been no official reaction from the Cuban Leadership to the re-election of Obama. The newspaper «Granma» marked the occasion with a dry informational message, stating that Obama has a lot of work to do in extricating the country from the financial and economic crisis and wars in the Middle East. It seems that Havana does not believe in an early normalization of relations with the United States.

Moreover, the web portal Subainformacion.tv published an article about the possible closure of the Mission of U.S. Interests in Havana. The reason is: «diplomats» are not addressing the humanitarian issues for which the mission was opened at the time, but engaging in espionage and sabotage operations. The current situation is very far from being a serious political rapprochement between Havana and Washington.

There is pessimism about the possibility of «breakthrough initiatives» from Obama in Latin America… Washington’s foreign policy priorities are in Afghanistan, the Middle East, North Africa, the Asia Pacific region. For Mexico, the Central American States, Colombia, Chile, and Peru – their relationship with the United States is cemented by the main tasks of the struggle against drug trafficking.

On this basis, the U.S. military presence in the region is increasing. The building of new bases and air and sea patrols around the perimeter of the continent are becoming routine. Latin American politicians believe that the U.S. State Department has entrusted the solution to many of their problems in Latin America and the Caribbean, to the Pentagon.

US military facilities are being built from Mexico to Patagonia under any pretext. There is a quickening in the schedule of holding bilateral and multilateral military exercises. Latin Americans are becoming accustomed to the constant presence of U.S. Army units in their territory.

In the long term this creeping occupation of the continent by the North Americans will be fraught with occurrences of «hot conflict».

Territorial disputes (they abound), the struggle for energy resources and biological resources, the control of the Orinoco and Amazon basins, the neutralization of Brazil as a major competitor to the U.S. in the region, the elimination of the «left» of the ALBA block, – all this is contained in the geo-strategic plans for the future of the Empire.

Maybe that is why you should not lament the absence of «breakthrough initiatives» in the current agenda of Obama in Latin America.


Nil NIKANDROV | Strategic Culture Foundation



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