As US foreign policy focuses on Iran and Iraq, is it losing its grip on Latin America? Will the US try to use Colombia against Chavez in Venezuela?
South America’s new direction
PEPE ESCOBAR, TRNN ANALYST: With the Middle East lost in war and despair, meet the new Axis of Evil: Caracas, Brazilia, Buenos Aeres. These are the players in the new game in South America: integration for the first time in history. With the largest biodiversity in the planet, the largest fresh water reserves, not to mention a lot of gas and oil, South America’s even striving for a new, independent economic model. No wonder the White House is not amused. I’m Pepe Escobar from São Paulo, Brazil, for the Real News.
ESCOBAR: I think we can assume that the ruling classes in Washington are perplexed by what’s happening in South America, but they haven’t had time to digest it, and they certainly don’t know what to do about it, because they’re concentrated in the Middle East, they’re concentrated in Iran, Iraq, and a little bit more about central Asia, and obviously about China. US strategic influence is diminishing all the time in South America. But the US still have many important cards to play. The most important card is Colombia. Colombia is a fierce ally, I would say, of the US, now with President Uribe as well. Colombia is the third recipient of US foreign aid after Israel and Egypt. The narco war, the so-called war against drugs in Colombia, is extremely handy for the Colombian government because it has Special Forces training Colombian paramilitaries and so-called fighting narco traffickers. But also there are paramilitaries aligned with the government, who are profiting from narco trafficking, and these people are not being fought by the Americans. So it’s very convenient for the Colombian government, and also convenient because since Colombia and Venezuela have always had huge historical problems and there is a lot of mistrust between Colombians and Venezuelans, there are stories of Colombian Special Forces or American special forces infiltrated inside Venezuela and blocking against Chavez’s government. This is what the Chavez government says, and sometimes they prove it. You just have to read the Venezuelan press that is not controlled by Chavez opponents. And the US has, of course, a military base in Ecuador, which Rafael Correa wants to renegotiate. And the US also has a very, very dodgy relationship with the government of Paraguay, because they have been training Paraguayan Special Forces until late 2006, and this was supposed to end there. And nothing has been said about it since the beginning of 2007. It could be dangerous in the long run, because even if you have one allied regime in Colombia and one allied regime in Paraguay, you have two strategic regimes well placed in two strategic regions from which you can launch preemptive attacks all over the place. So, as I said, no wonder the Brazilians and the Argentineans, who are actually conducting this process of integration in South America, now, along with Venezuela, are extremely worried. The big fear of American elites, I mean power-hungry American elites—I’m not generalizing, of course—is movements of national liberation in developing countries. So this explains coups against Mosaddeq in Iran in 1953, a coup against Goulart in Brazil in 1964, and the engineered coup against Allende in Chile in 1973. You have to put all these things in perspective. And Chile is a very interesting case, because in Chile, the beginning of globalization as we know it, or neoliberalism as it’s called in many places in the developing world, especially in South America, was what happened in Chile, because after the installment of a military dictatorship and deposing a popular elected government, neoliberalism, you know, flew away and became very extremely glorious forever in South America, in Chile, with the guys who studied in the University of Chicago. And this model was spread all over Latin America as well. And after that came globalization as we know it nowadays.
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