Friday, April 10, 2015

The isolation of the US

I remember years ago (probably in the 1990s) seeing a newspaper photo of a meeting of the leaders of the Americas. The Cuban representative stood out like a sore thumb, the lone figure dressed in a military uniform while all of the others wore business suits. The implication couldn’t have been more clear: the Americas at the end of history were the land of the Washington Consensus, and the Cuban government was pitifully out of touch.

Things have changed. Democracy Now! is covering the Summit of the Americas in Panama and features an interview today with Miguel Tinker Salas and Mark Weisbrot.

I recommend watching the whole thing, especially since – if Rachel Maddow’s sycophantic report last night is any indication* – you’re not going to see any serious analysis anywhere in the US corporate media.

The central theme articulated by both Tinker Salas and Weisbrot is that the US government is so driven by internal forces and so incredibly out of touch with the reality of Latin America and the Caribbean that they continue to speak and act as though the region can be treated as their “backyard,” leading to increasing isolation. They can’t accept a hemisphere in which relations are based on mutual respect, in which people in countries other than the US can elect their own governments and choose their own policies, and in which other governments won’t reflexively accede to the US government’s arrogant attempts to punish leaders who refuse to abide by its wishes. Just listen to Roberta Jacobson! UNASUR and CELAC had to be established precisely because the US and Canada relentlessly seek to dominate any regional organization that includes them. And it appears that the chance of Hillary Clinton taking a different course as president is essentially zero, while any Republican would undoubtedly be worse.

(A note on a topic discussed in the interview: They talk about Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, who was just deported from the US to El Salvador to face justice for human rights crimes during the country’s civil war; and how the US might also deport (to Spain) Inocente Orlando Montano, another former Salvadoran general, for human rights crimes. These include the 1989 murders of six Jesuit priests, their housekeeper, and her daughter. Among the priests was Ignacio Martín-Baró, the great political-humanist-liberation psychologist.)

* My jaw dropped when Andrea Mitchell actually brought up Venezuela, and then returned to place when that discussion went nowhere.

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