November 8, 2005
SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS IV: 'STIRRED-UP AMERICAS' PROTEST, STALL FTAA
** President Bush, both "target and star" of Mar del Plata, greeted by hostile protests.
** FTAA stalls, ALBA lurks as Chávez and Castro anchor an "axis of opposition."
** Latin writers question the "healing power of markets," tenatively exploring alternatives.
** SOA hurdles: "Revolution" of sorts, "parallel summit," draft communique and China's reach.
Bush enters "hostile territory' on arrival in Mar del Plata-- Media noted that outside the meeting's security fences many signs read: "W [or] Bush, Go Home!" SOA-IV traversed a "rocky road" that conveyed President Bush as both the "target and star" in Argentina. The UK's conservative Times stated, Bush is disliked in Latam "more than anywhere outside the Arab world." However, despite all the demonstrations and other Hemispheric Social Alliance (ASC) "counter summit" activities, "no one denies that Latin America needs to maintain the best possible relations with the U.S.," declared Uruguay's conservative Ultimas Noticias.
'Señor Chávez leading resistance to...freer markets'-- Many observers considered that Bush vs. Chávez would serve as a "backdrop" for the summit and called for a wider dialogue than the U.S.-led FTAA in opposition to Venezuela's ALBA. Venezuela's El Universal noted there was an "expectation" the summit would "focus on what Chávez will do to irritate Bush." France's right-of-center France Soir asserted the "political future of the entire Latin American continent" was at stake. This reality should supersede any antagonism between Bush and Chávez and Castro, who wanted to incite "leftist governments...on the rise in South America," according to Chile's influential El Mercurio.
SOA showcased a 'confrontation between two tendencies'-- Editorialists worldwide found that the SOA spotlit differences between the U.S. and its Latam neighbors. U.S. calls for free market forces to promote economic growth to combat poverty and unemployment ran counter to leftist Latam leanings. Buenos Aires' centrist La Nacion stated leftists favor "a more radical stance," relying on "government intervention" to solve existing social ills. While writers saw general U.S.-Latam agreement for the "fight against hunger, unemployment and terrorism," they judged nonetheless that Latam "hostility" towards the U.S. resulted from a decade of "disorganized liberalized economy orchestrated by the IMF and World Bank."
'A new American revolution of a sort'-- Latin writers asserted summit failure was "almost assured ahead of time." Papers agreed there is a "revolution" of sorts going on in the "stirred-up Americas." Argentina's La Capital explained that Mar del Plata hosted both SOA-IV and a third "People's Summit" organized by the ASC's "anti-globalization, human rights and picketers' organizations," directed "against U.S.-promoted policies." France's right-of-center Le Figaro stated the U.S. ran the "risk of seeing other countries, like China, step in" as a result. Italy's conservative Quotidiano Nazionale echoed many who cited the difficulty of crafting a SOA consensus "final document" as evidence of the "failed summit" that "did not promise much" from the outset.
Prepared by Media Reaction Division (202) 203-7888, email@example.com
EDITOR: Rupert D. Vaughan
EDITOR'S NOTE: Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment. Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion. Some commentary is taken directly from the Internet. This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government. This analysis was based on 72 reports from 21 countries over October 28- November 7, 2005. Editorial excerpts are listed from the most recent date.
BRITAIN: "Caudillos With Crude Can Pose A Challenge"
The independent Financial Times editorialized (11/7): "Oil producing countries can...ignore issues such as tariffs because their staple commodity is so rarely subject to them. So Mr. Chavez can blithely campaign against the U.S.-sponsored Free Trade Area of the Americas, knowing it would not benefit Venezuela much anyway.... But Mr. Chavez's neighbours should realise they do not have the same luxury of dispensing with free trade concessions, because they cannot count on his largesse for ever."
"Bush Heads Into Bandit Country"
U.S. editor Gerard Baker commented in the conservative Times (Internet version, 11/3): "Today the embattled President arrives in South America, which has become yet another foreign policy headache after Iraq. Our correspondent says Bush is disliked there more than anywhere outside the Arab world. When George W. Bush came to Washington five years ago--before 9/11, the Iraq war and his bold plan to remake the Middle East--he had one overriding foreign policy interest: Latin America. As Governor of Texas he had enjoyed warm relations with Mexican governments.... within a month of taking office in January 2001 Mr. Bush made Mexico the destination of his first overseas trip as President. On September 5 that year, a week before the world changed, the first state dinner he hosted at the White House was for President Fox of Mexico. That was then. Now Latin America is just another headache on Mr Bush’s onerous foreign policy agenda. He is disliked more there than perhaps anywhere outside the Arab world. A poll last week for Latinobarómetro, a Chile-based polling organisation, found that in every single South American country favourable impressions of the U.S. have declined sharply in the five years of Mr Bush’s presidency. To his chagrin, his approval ratings in the region trail those of Hugo Chávez, the rumbustious President of Venezuela who has made himself popular mainly by the vigour of his anti-Bush rhetoric.... He will need more than Texan charm to make his trip a success, however. In Argentina and Brazil official events will be overshadowed by massive anti-Bush protests. The footballer Diego Maradona will lead the demonstrations in Mar del Plata.... The U.S. and South American countries have been unable to agree on a communiqué for the summit meeting, with Señor Chávez leading resistance to a U.S.-backed call for freer markets and freer trade in the region."
"Venezuela Threat To Give U.S. F-16s To Cuba, China"
Jeremy McDermott wrote in the conservative Scotsman (Internet version, 11/3): "Venezuela's president has threatened to give Cuba and China F-16 fighter aircraft from his arsenal, insisting that the U.S. has failed to fulfil its maintenance commitments for the combat planes.... The donation or sale of the F-16s would violate agreements concerning the exchange of military hardware without U.S. permission and put further strain on relations between the two countries. However, the Venezuelan F-16s were bought in 1983 and are not believed to contain any sensitive technology.... Mr. Chavez has used his oil revenues not just to boost his socialist 'revolution,' but to sign a series of arms contracts with Russia, Spain and Brazil, which include 100,000 new AK assault rifles, helicopters and boats. Mr Chavez is also looking to purchase new fighter aircraft and has been flirting with Russia and China, with the current favourite being Russia's MiG-29.... President George Bush will certainly cross paths with Mr Chavez at the Summit of the Americas, which begins today in Argentina and attracts leaders from 34 nations. While protests are being organised against Mr Bush, Mr Chavez seems assured of a warm welcome in Mar del Plata, 230 miles south of Buenos Aires, as he continues his verbal onslaught against Washington."
FRANCE: "Bush Fails To Charm Latin America"
Lamia Oualalou in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/7): “President Bush’s welcome in Brazil was glacial.... This has become a habit for the President.... But the situation was all the more difficult to swallow because President Bush left the Summit of the America’s practically empty handed.... The stakes were high for a President whose popularity ratings are at their lowest."
"Bush In Hostile Territory"
Lamia Oualalou opined in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/4): “The American model is no longer a winner in South America. A decade of a disorganized liberalized economy orchestrated by the IMF and the World Bank, with the White House blessing, has left Latin American populations on their knees. Latin America feels as though it has become the victim of organized looting by international institutions and its elites.... First it was the Spaniards, now the Americans.”
"Latino Versus Yankee"
Thomas de Rochechouart wrote in right-of-center France Soir (11/4): “Beyond the personal antagonism pitting Bush against Chavez, what is at stake is much more important: the political future of the entire Latin American continent.... The U.S. has always exercised a dominant influence over the continent. It is the Monroe doctrine at work: America belongs to the Americans and the U.S. guarantees its security. But in the past several years this hegemony has been questioned. The economic crises in Argentina and Brazil have tarnished the image of the U.S..... A new axis of opposition led by Chavez and Castro is rising and their anti-U.S. stance could well include Bolivia and Mexico. The U.S. could find itself in a face-off with Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia and Mexico, its traditional ally--a new American revolution of a sort.”
"Criminal Court Divides The Americas"
Lamia Oualalou expressed the view in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/4): “Mexico has once again shattered the myth that it lives in the shadow of the U.S. By ratifying the article which signs the ICC’s existence, Mexico is enjoying the use of this symbol. It has also refused to sign an immunity agreement with Washington. A slap in the face for its American neighbor, despite the increasing efforts made by the Bush administration to get the project aborted...through a series of blackmailing threats to cut aid. The rebellion of several South American countries will cost them dearly.... In the U.S., Congressmen are sounding the alarm: by cutting aid, especially military aid, the Bush administration is running the risk of seeing other countries, like China, step in.”
GERMANY: "In The Backyard"
Nikolaus Busse argued in an editorial in center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/7): "Negotiations about free trade zones as such are not an easy business, and this is especially true when the strongest industrialized nation is conducting such talks with a handful of agricultural and raw material economies in its backyard. And if, like at the Summit of the Americas, political propaganda against Washington's hegemony is added, then no one should be surprised that a compromise is not possible. Venezuela's President Chávez is only one of several Latin American leaders who try to get their peoples believe, using Bolivaran and other populist bubbles, that other countries are responsible for the misery in their own countries. Many people in Latin America may like such remarks because a fine resentment against the 'Yankees' is also part of the good tone in those circles that would nut hurl stones at Bush. But this will not create any growth. The problem of Latin America has always been the looting of the state by corrupt elites. Free trade would be an effective drug against it; other continents are an example of this."
"Rebellion In The South"
Peter Burghardt opined in an editorial in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (11/7): "Large parts of the Latin American continent no longer believe in the recipes of the big brother from the North and the healing powers of markets, and figures seem to prove critics right…. The Bush team has ignored the most recent developments in Latin America, because it has considered the region to be unimportant since the fall of the Wall. Cuba and Castro are no longer a danger for the superpower since the end of the Soviet Union. For the time being, Chávez and Venezuela are only getting on the U.S. nerves. This global picture of good and evil has contributed to the fact that south of the Rio Grande, two camps have formed. Countries like Colombia, Panama and (still) Mexico back the United States, while primarily Brazil and Argentina are blocking the U.S. leadership claim and strengthen their trade alliance Mercosur. They criticize agricultural subsidies from the North and export soy and wheat to China that is taking advantage of the favorable moment. On the other hand, both countries are dependent on U.S. support for new loans. Nationalist populism would be a bad alternative, even though the temptation is great. Latin America needs jobs and training. The distrust towards the acronym FTAA is, however, understandable as long as multinational concerns make enormous profits in Latin America but hardly make investments there."
"Useful Defeat For Bush"
Washington correspondent Torsten Krauel filed the following editorial for right-of-center Die Welt of Berlin (11/7) and for right-of-center Berliner Morgenpost (11/7): "President Bush has failed with his vision of having the Summit of the Americas agree on the establishment of a Free Trade Zone from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Five countries opposed.... The result is a blessing that has come as a curse, for to push the project at this time was a typical expression of an obstinate 'now-all-the-more' attitude, which has characterized the president in times of crisis, and not always to his political advantage. The opening and convergence of the markets of the western hemisphere is a plan which modernizer Bush has persistently pursued for years, even though the risks rarely play a role.... To play all or nothing now in the midst of scandals and push through a hemispheric zone? This is typical of Bush but it is also possible to overstep one's mark. In a Congressional election year, wounded protectionists would have used a vote for a free trade zone to show how powerful they are. And a defeat on the Hill would have been much more serious than a failed summit. His opponents in other countries saved the gambler from uncomfortable hours."
Wolfgang Kunath opined in left-of-center Frankfurter Rundschau (11/7): "Of course, it is possible to talk smoothly about a defeat. President Bush's Undersecretary Shannon said the summit meeting was a success.... O.k., if it is a success that Hugo Chávez is not right… Venezuela's President Chávez said the project of a free trade zone that includes the entire continent is dead.... Well this free trade zone is not dead, and Shannon is right, but the project that was supposed to begin in 2006 has now been postponed to a day until 'kingdom come'.... Chávez may now try to ideologically capitalize on the defeat. But Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay are not mainly for ideological reasons opposed to Washington's neo-liberal free trade plans, but for naked interest. Mainly Brazil is afraid that Washington's project could rein in the urge of Brazil's economy to expand…."
"Dressing Down For Bush"
Gerhard Dilger argued in an editorial in leftist die tageszeitung of Berlin (11/7): "Times are changing in North and Latin America, but the White House does not want to realize this. This is the only way to interpret the actions of the U.S. delegation at the Summit of the Americas. The attempt to revive the project of an American free trade zone had to fail. But President Bush himself also had to be blamed for the fact that the U.S. project did not make any progress. Host Kirchner had worked out a paper under titled 'Decent Work'…but U.S. diplomats ignored the paper as an embarrassing additional document, even though all presidents, including Bush's closest allies, know that the neo-liberal recipes of the 'Washington consensus' from 1990 had not helped the people.... It was not President Bush, but Venezuela's President Chávez who picked up a former Kennedy proposal of a poverty fund equipped with billions of dollars…. Further setbacks are in the offing for Bush. A breakthrough with respect to free trade at the next WTO meeting is unlikely. And soon it could be possible that Bolivia and Mexico could be governed by left-wingers. U.S. influence is dwindling."
ITALY: "Global But Divided On Everything"
Mario Platero commented in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (11/6): “Democracy, free trade, integration, prosperity: these were, in priority order, the obliged steps in order to organize globalization. With yesterday’s sad Summit of the Americas at Mar del Plata, which ended with a communiqué which confirmed differences, we went back to the point of departure, i.e., talking about democracy. This is an issue on which it is easier to hide the diverging route of the two tracks of globalization--the one of real economy, which proceeds quickly towards an increase of international trade, and the institutional one, which has come to a dead-end, or almost so. Even George W. Bush had to admit it when he said that, for the time being--and perhaps for a whole generation--the dream of a single free market from Alaska to Argentina (the ALCA) was broken. Meanwhile, he said, better for everybody to start working on the foundations, i.e., on the pillars of the separation of powers, and the guarantees legality and freedom, which are at the basis of a good democracy. This is one of the novelties of the Mar del Plata summit: even Bush the optimist has realized that, in the mix of bonds among nations, cultural perceptions and roots count too.”
"Slap To the U.S., Chavez Stops Bush On Free Market"
New York correspondent Paolo Mastrolilli remarked in centrist, influential La Stampa (11/6): "Negotiations on a free trade area in America were stalled before the Mar del Plata summit, and so they remain after the meeting, which was in the news mainly due to last Friday’s violence. The 34 nations gathered in Argentine failed to revive the negotiations, apart from a vague commitment to resume the talks next year. The outcome is not final yet, but there was no winner between President Bush, who had come with the intention to obtain a precise date for the resumption of talks for a ‘Free Trade Area of the Americas,’ and Venezuelan President Chavez, who wanted to hammer the last nail into the coffin of this project.... During the summit, Bush avoided meeting with Chavez…but he failed to obtain the foreign policy success in the U.S.’s South American courtyard that would have revived his image, or at least balanced his domestic problems.”
"Bush Pockets A ‘No’ Even From Brazil"
Alberto Pasolini Zanelli asserted from Washington in pro-government, leading center-right Il Giornale (11/7): “A successful barbeque cannot replace a failed summit. But this is what George Bush had to settle for in Brasilia, the second leg of his difficult and controversial South-American tour. The real stake was in the first leg, Mar del Plata, but the pan-American conference held there failed, in line with general forecasts. So much so that chiefs of state and government preferred to not have lunch together on the final day, and disappeared one at a time, mentioning more urgent appointments, and leaving to lower level officials the task of saving whatever could be saved, or sinking hopes. Hopes did sink in the meeting hall when participants failed to approve even a compromise formula that, acknowledging the lack of an agreement, convened a new summit for next April. Unanimity was achieved over an indefinite postponement.”
"Americas, Reduced Summit"
Mario Platero opined in leading business-oriented Il Sole-24 Ore (11/4): “George W. Bush arrived last night in Mar del Plata, in Argentina, to participate in the Fourth Summit of the Americas.... The opportunity [for Bush] should be one for showing his personal leadership and that of the United States in this hemisphere. One of transmitting images of handshakes and smiles with the other 31 leaders of South, North and Central America and the Caribbean, in order to be able to recover a bit on the domestic poll front. But in Mar del Plata, a tourist spot of 700,000 inhabitants 400 km from Buenos Aires, where summer is about to explode, the atmosphere is gloomy. George W. Bush knows that the environment and public opinion there are generally hostile toward him. He will certainly take reproach from Brazilian President Lula da Silva, hostile to U.S. unilateral and aggressive politics in Iraq and fed up with the American block to a permanent seat in the U.N. Security Council.... On the economic front, Bush will receive a general chorus of criticism, especially for playing games on matters related to trade liberalization.... From Bush, the South Americans expect concessions on immigration policy and on the fight against drugs that often calls for invasive action by the United States. But it’s not certain they’ll get it.... Finally, there is for the American President, the 'enemy' x-factor: the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, recently returned from a stop over in Havana where an alternative 'Summit for the People' was being held, organized by Fidel Castro.... As for Chavez, for now, no words, but he will surely use the platform of the Summit to attack the United States.”
"Bush In Argentina Tries To Dodge Maradona"
Giampaolo Pioli wrote in conservative, top-circulation syndicate Quotidiano Nazionale (11/4): “Bush arrived in Mar del Plata in the afternoon and the first demonstrations were awaiting him. But the ‘train of dawn’ arrives today with Diego Armando Maradona as the conductor of the protest against the American President.... The summit’s final document has not yet found its definitive formula because many Latin American countries are asking to insert a paragraph that defines labor and immigration policies. ‘If he comes, I will go on strike,’ read the signs of Argentine workers...protesting against U.S. policy. But other signs are much stronger and reject the free market policy imposed by the Americans whose only effect has been to place Argentines below poverty level. Undoubtedly...Bush remains the target and star of this summit. “
"Summit Of The Americas, Bush Arrives Amidst Protests"
Maurizio Chierici remarked in pro-democratic Left Party (DS) L’Unità (11/3): “Inconclusive, costly and frenetic, international meetings that call together heads of state to define a common economic policy, years ago would at least have tried to keep up appearances...with handshakes and crowd greetings. But Bush who arrives in Buenos Aires--for the Summit of the Americas scheduled for today and tomorrow--is not deluding himself. His first trip to Argentina serves no purpose.... For Bush, Mar del Plata is nevertheless necessary because Chinese expansion is marching on Latin America, but there is one meeting that is worth the trip. On his way home, he will have a one-on-one meeting with Lula in Brasilia. Two presidents who are weakened by internal scandals but bound by common interests: Lula needs calm and friendship to get re-elected.... For Bush, Lula’s Brazil is indispensable to assure the stability of U.S. influence on the continent. And its market is rapidly expanding with strong American investments. The contents of the common document of Mar de la Plata will therefore respect the inconclusive manners of courtesy. The word ‘Alca’ will appear like an indefinite hypothesis that will make both the U.S. and Venezuela a little unhappy, but...they will still agree on important issues: the fight against hunger, unemployment, and terrorism. We’ll discuss this again in four years, at the next summit, with who knows which presidents.”
BELGIUM: "The North American Model In Question"
U.S. correspondent Nathalie Mattheiem wrote in left-of-center Le Soir (11/5): "More than the thousands of demonstrators in the streets, what was worrying for the Bush Administration was the very cold way Argentine President Nestor Kirchner welcomed President Bush. It is one signal among others of the radical climate change among that Western Hemisphere group. In ten years, optimism has vanished. At the Miami Summit in 1994, the only issues were promoting democracy and expanding free-trade to facilitate economic growth.... Without launching a charm offensive similar to the one it organized vis-à-vis Europe at the beginning of George Bush’s second term, the U.S. President is trying to present the evolution of U.S. relations with Latin American countries under the most favorable angle as possible. He for instance claimed that the Argentine Government has proven its competency has does therefore not need the United States as an intermediary in its dealings with the IMF. But these kind statements do not fool anyone. The reasons for the chilly relations with Washington are numerous: the opposition to the war in Iraq, the total lack of understanding for the ‘war on terror,’ and the irritation at the United States’ maneuvers to appoint its candidates at the Inter-American Development Bank or at the Organization of American States. Latin America has first and foremost the impression of being ignored after the 9/11 attacks that totally changed the U.S. Administration’s priorities. The rare attempts to improve relations with Latin-American countries are the result of these new concerns. For instance, the resumption of the dialogue with Mexico first and foremost focused on border controls--a security concern and a hot issue for the upcoming mid-term elections.... George Bush’s trip to Latin-America will not succeed in improving his image. Yet, he badly needs it: he left Washington while his popularity in the polls was at a record low and while only 40 percent of the American people consider that he is honest."
ROMANIA: "Bush Left Argentina ‘Defeated'"
Madalina Mitan commented in the financial Curentul (11/7): “Even if these countries are aware of the importance of trade relations with the U.S, they don’t believe that forcing negotiations on the free trade area stands any chance at this moment, when Latin America is deeply divided regarding its relationship with America.... Bush’s visit to Brazil...might tilt the balance towards a new U.S. ally."
SPAIN: "The Meeting Of The Americas And The Stirred-Up Americas"
Independent El Mundo opined (11/6): "The end of the cold war and the war over markets put an end to the isolation promoted by Washington, and turned the region into a battleground for great economic giants. Novelties do not only come from the outside. The triumph and consolidation of Hugo Chávez, together with the high prices of oil, is undermining U.S. influence in its traditional area of influence, the Caribbean. Aware of its progressive decrease in influence, Washington consoles itself from the most marginal and impoverished America: Central America and the Andean countries. The price of faithfulness is high, because this marginal America is flooding the south of the U.S. with emigrants and causes a problem with only difficult solutions. Bush, in vain, hoped to get the continent's support for the FTAA, which was supposed to start this 2005, but he is worse off than where he started. The countries with the most weight in the area reiterated their firm opposition to the (FTAA) unless Washington puts an end to protectionism, which is not on the agenda either. Bush's disappointment is a thermometer with which one can measure the decadence of the power of the U.S., which used to dictate and now has to listen and also to put up with things. Only two things continue being the same: on the one side, the trite official demagogy about fight against poverty, the goodness of free trade and the value of democracy; on the other, the generalized rejection of the hackneyed empire and its current president."
"The Summit Of The Two Americas"
Independent El Mundo remarked (11/6): "The Summit has failed regarding the challenges it faced, but has served to stage the existence of two opposed poles whose radical confrontation will unlikely contribute to improve the life conditions of the population.... However, Chávez is well aware that his project for the continent needs to count on two big countries such as Argentina and Brazil. Venezuela hopes to be able to become a member of Mercosur in December, and both Kirchner and Lula have made some gestures on some occasions that would fit into Bolivarian ideology. However, at the moment of truth, these leaders make sure, more than Chávez would want them to, not to break relations with the U.S.... It would be very desirable for the region if the risky polarization shown in Argentina did not go much beyond a staging every four years, which is what summits are."
Left-of-center El País wrote (11/6): "The star subject that Bush brought (the FTAA) to Mar del Plata has been derailed by more urgent realities, such as the creation of employment and the alleviation of a growing economic gap (between rich and poor).... The timing of the meeting was unfavorable for a hemispheric debate on free trade, just as the Doha Round is in serious difficulties and the WTO is preparing for a crucial and complicated negotiation next month in Hong Kong.... The failure of the Summit of the Americas should remind the White House to dedicate much more attention to its southern neighbors.... The relationship of the superpower with Latin America has probably reached its lowest level since the end of the Cold War. In this context, the creation of the FTAA, in light of the expressed interest by (only) a small number of governments, will have to wait for better times."
BAHRAIN: "Will Cuba, Venezuela Unite?"
The English-language Bahrain Tribune carried a commentary by London-based Gwynne Dyer (11/3): "'It wouldn’t be outrageous,' said Ana Faya of her suspicion that Cuba and Venezuela might unite one of these days. After all, the senior analyst at the Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) in Ottawa pointed out, the idea of uniting Latin American countries has been around since the revolutions of Bolivar and San Martin against Spain almost two centuries ago. And she certainly knows how Cuban Communists think: for ten years, until she fled to Canada in 2000, she was an official of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party.... Chavez is Venezuelan, not Cuban, but that may not be as big a problem as it seems. Many people on the left in Latin America, including 'Bolivarians' like Chavez and most of the Marxists, have always seen the division of the region into more than a dozen Spanish-speaking countries as a misfortune, not a law of nature..... As for Chavez, his motives and his loyalties are transparently Bolivarian. Visiting Italy last week, he went to Monte Sacro, near Rome, where Simon Bolivar made his famous oath to free Latin America from Spanish rule exactly two centuries ago. Bolivar had said: 'I shall not give rest to my arm nor respite to my soul until I have broken the chains that oppress us by the will of the Spanish power.' Chavez declared that Venezuelans 'should not rest their arms or their souls until we have broken the chains that oppress our people due to the will of the North-American Empire.' Impractical, hopelessly idealistic stuff, in the sense that Cuba and Venezuela would be only 35 million people together, totally outmatched by the almost 300 million people and twenty- times-bigger economy of the United States--but Washington is severely distracted by its faltering Middle Eastern adventure at the moment."
UAE: "When Castro Fails Cubans"
Mohammed Galdari commented in the expatriate-oriented English-language Khaleej Times (Internet version, 11/2): "Cuban leader Fidel Castro wants President Bush to keep off the upcoming Organisation of American States summit in Argentina, where mass protests are planned against issues as different as free trade and war in Iraq. Dear readers, it would be interesting to know what Castro’s grouse is: it is that he has not been invited to the summit for reasons of Cuba’s record of human rights violations. Cuba will be the only Latin American nation that will be kept out of the summit and the organization itself.... While Castro has not changed ever since he led the Cuban revolution 46 years ago, he has failed to see the world changing. Rather than joining the U.S.-led free trade arrangement, he is hoping to have a leftist trade grouping in alliance with Venezuela and some other laid back nations in the region. In reality, how much viable can it be, considering the economic strengths of the nations involved?... Dear readers, Russia and other Communist nations have long ago made peace with America and are changing their forms of governance and economic management. But, Castro, who drew his inspiration from Moscow for long, has failed to change with the times. The sufferers are Cubans themselves."
CHINA: "U.S. Watches Out For Latin America's Close Contact With China"
Zhang Weizhong, Kui Jing, Wen Che, Zhang Chuandu, Li Runtian and Jiang Xueqing reported in the official Communist Party international news publication Global Times (Huanqiu Shibao) (11/4): "The U.S. has always been displeased about China's influence on Latin America... In fact, the saying that the 'Chinese have entered the U.S. backyard' is already a part of 'China Threat Theory'... The U.S. military has also kept a close eye on China-Latin America relations, and constantly evaluated whether or not China's rising influence in the Latin American area has threatened U.S. security interests.... Xu Shicheng, researcher from the Latin America Study Institute of the China Academy of Social Science (CASS) holds that, with regard to U.S. worries, the trade development between China and Latin America comprises no threat against the U.S. because the U.S. is the largest trade partner and investor in the area, and it enjoys favorable policies in its bilateral trade with a lot of Latin American countries. In addition, China has no military base in Latin America, and its military exchanges with the area are purely friendly ones without targets in any third country. China has no intention to contain the U.S. through Latin America."
PAKISTAN: "Bush Not Welcome"
The English-language News wrote (Internet version, 11/2): "'If I were the president of the United States, I would try to have a little judgment for once and not defy the Argentines who have declared him persona non grata," said Cuba's Castro [on a TV show and] large protests are expected at the Summit of the Americas later this week that will be attended by Bush and 33 other heads of state in Mar del Plata, 400 kilometres south of Buenos Aires. Maradona, who led Argentina to World Cup triumph in 1986, landed Castro as a guest on his new show, 'La Noche del 10,' a reference to his number 10 jersey on the national team. The show has broken all TV audience records since it was launched three months ago. Agreeing with Castro, whom he regards as an old friend, Maradona promised to lead the anti-Bush demonstrations that are expected to attract thousands of protesters. We are going to say "no’ to Bush, we are going to tell him "no’ in Mar del Plata," Maradona said, dressed in a military outfit in the Cuban style."
CANADA: "Sometimes, Bilateral Is Better"
The conservative National Post editorialized (11/5): "The 34 Western hemispheric leaders gathered in Mar del Plata, Argentina, this weekend for the fourth Summit of the Americas will take a crack at reviving the FTAA--a NAFTA-like treaty that would encompass all of North, Central and South America. But few expect the meetings to amount to anything. Free trade in the region is such a low priority, it was not even on the summit agenda until earlier this week. There is no will to make this treaty happen. And maybe that is not such a bad thing.... Canada and the United States will be pressured to make major concessions in order to kickstart negotiations. But the project is not urgent enough to justify such sacrifices. Many of the signatories have little in the way of resources, manufactured goods or agricultural fare that Canada needs, and they are too poor or too small to buy much from us. The Americans already have one-on-one agreements with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. And we have successful pacts with Costa Rica and Chile. Most of these are working extremely well for both sides."
ARGENTINA: "Weathering Summits"
The liberal, English-language Buenos Aires Herald editorialized (11/5): "The Fourth SOA was always going to be an occasion to showcase Argentina to the world but what kind of country are we showcasing with yesterday's deplorable violence?... Even if the protest side-show is ignored or downplayed, Argentina is putting the wrong foot forward in other ways. How is it that so few classes can be taught or subway trains run simply because George W. Bush is here...? The prominent role of pro-Kirchner Deputy Miguel Bonasso in anti-Bush activities gives rise to a bizarre situation whereby a close friend of the host is heading protests against one of that host's guests.... Regarding the meeting between Presidents Kirchner and Bush..., Kirchner has reasons for satisfaction--if only because Bush evidently has less appetite for gratuitously multiplying enemies and told Kirchner what he wanted to hear. Thus he praised Kirchner for successful economic policies in defiance of the IMF...in terms which could be tweaked into signifying U.S. support for Argentina with the IMF.... Yet Bush will probably be setting far more store by his talk this evening with Brazil's Lula (not least for resolving the problem of Bolivia's democracy) and his brief contact with Kirchner will be no more than a drop in the ocean resort's summit."
"There Was Disagreement"
Ana Baron, Washington-based correspondent for leading Clarin commented (11/5): "'Tough,' 'honest, direct.' When describing the bilateral meeting between Presidents Bush and Kirchner, these three adjectives were used. In diplomatic language, they are used to reveal that there was disagreement without saying it directly. While both sides termed the meeting as 'positive,' useful,' and even some Americans said it was 'excellent,' the disagreement between the two presidents is related to their views on the Consensus of Washington and the support Argentina wants from the U.S. in its search for a more flexible IMF attitude. Bush made clear three things. The U.S. considers Kirchner has been very successful in the recovery of the economy, which places the Government at an advantageous position to negotiate with the IMF.... Judicial security, respect for agreements, transparency, and fight on corruption are topics that the U.S. deems important for Argentina to consolidate its economic recovery."
"The Bush-Kirchner Encounter"
Conservative La Prensa editorialized (11/4): "U.S. President George W. Bush has come to Argentina for the fist time.... He knows that some sectors have rejected his visit.... Bush's visit to Argentina is something more important than a U.S. President's mere attendance at the SOA because he is coming after having praised the country's economic recovery.... While the Summit will have a general impact on America, the Bush-Kirchner mini-Summit will have a singular impact on Argentina. The U.S. President's good predisposition will make him understand Kirchner's position against FTAA.... The Mar del Plata Summit will not decide to implement the FTAA, and Americans do understand this and are willing to wait for years for its implementation.... For his part, Kirchner will focus on his need for Bush's support in his future negotiations with the IMF, which he will obviously obtain if one bears in mind Bush's praising statements about Argentina's economic recovery and Kirchner's right use of Washington's help.... Will (Presidents Bush and Kirchner) speak about politics?... Kirchner already knows that Bush has long expected from him an attempt to calm down the impetus of the Venezuelan president, whom the U.S.G. considers a threat to democracy not only in Venezuela but in several Latin American countries as well. The U.S.-Argentine bilateral relationship is excellent, and Kirchner will attend this encounter well supported by an economic recovery already acknowledged by Bush and with his fellow-citizens' unquestionable support in recent parliamentary elections."
"Stop Beating The Bush"
An editorial in liberal, English-language Buenos Aires Herald read (11/4): "The aim of this editorial is neither to join the 'Bush, go home' brigade nor to say 'Welcome, W' but simply to remind everybody that the Americas Summit starting in Mar del Plata today is a truly continental event.... Coverage of the Summit deserves better than the reductionism to the presence of President Bush and the deplorable violence and strikes in reaction.... Even if it were justified, anti-U.S. posturing would still imply a lack of regard for all other countries attending this summit. There are too many countries even between the U.S. and Venezuela, for example, to reduce an entire continent to the contrast between George Bush and Hugo Chavez. The lack of a pre-cooked final statement for the Summit is almost the only point which concerns the analysts apart from the anti-Bush demonstrations and the threat of violence, yet anybody who has ever attended a business, scientific or other congress knows full well that the most valuable part of any congress is not listening to the seminars or papers but the contacts made.... There is no reason why this Americas Summit should be any different. Argentina will be performing a service to an entire continent in providing the venue for these contacts but this service need not be entirely unselfish--Argentina places itself on the map and redeems a growing reputation for isolationist and self-absorbed nationalism to the extent that it makes the hemispheric proceedings today and tomorrow a success."
"One Last Arm-wrestling Due To FTAA"
Fernando Cibeira and Laura Vales, on special assignment in Mar del Plata for left-of-center Pagina 12 wrote (11/4): "Outside the fences, a city is wall-papered with 'W go home' graffiti. Inside, negotiators are in trouble to reach consensus on the Summit's Final Statement. This is the panorama in which today, 33 hemispheric presidents will launch the SOA through a plenary session under the motto 'Creating decent work.' Everything will be OK on this point. Who can think of proposing something like 'indecent employment?' But the main topic--the FTAA, which is promoted by the U.S. and rejected by some Latin American countries--continues hindered even after a phone call made by Foreign Minister Bielsa to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Positions seem so hard to reconcile that last night negotiators were analyzing that the Final Statement could unusually reflect both positions. When debate is resumed, outside the fences, demonstrations will have started against free trade area and militarization, which are represented by the figure of U.S. President Bush."
"According To Insulza, The FTAA 'Should Have Never Been Introduced In The Summit'"
Eleonora Gosman, on special assignment in Mar del Plata for leading Clarin, wrote (11/4): "According to OAS Secretary General Miguel Insulza, disagreement over the FTAA brought more problems than benefits to the Mar del Plata Summit. OAS Secretary General Miguel Insulza said 'This topic should have never been introduced in this meeting.' 'What happens is that farm subsidies cannot be unblocked here. The US cannot make today concessions on this sensitive point (particularly in benefit of Mercosur) without knowing what the EU will do by the end of the year. This point will be discussed in the upcoming WTO Doha Round.... We'll have to wait for the WTO meeting in order to make progress on hemispheric integration."
"Washington Requests Support To Put Bolivia And Venezuela Under Control"
Horacio Riggi, on special assignment in Mar del Plata for business-financial El Cronista commented (11/3): "The U.S. pressure is not only, or mainly, to impose a new deadline for the FTAA creation, but also for Argentina and Brazil (the two largest countries in South America) to become its partners in order to 'stabilize' the region. The U.S. request will be made to Mercosur. Washington is concerned over what will happen in December 12 Bolivia's elections... According to an Argentine Government source, Washington wants to prevent Morales from forming an axis with Chavez that will put an end to any possibility to implement the FTAA in the mid-term. The fear is fueled by the fact that Bolivia and Venezuela are two of the main countries having the largest energy reserves in the region..., and said situation could have an impact on the rest of South America. Brazil and Argentina are, in fact, two of the main consumers of Bolivian gas. On the other hand, the U.S. sees Hugo Chavez as a challenging president agitating the region."
"The Summit Of The Americas"
An editorial in daily-of-record La Nacion read (11/3): "The Fourth Summit of the Americas...will offer a new opportunity to define common elements in the region to strengthen governance and support the economic development, and, particularly, the fight on poverty. For Argentina, it represents the possibility to show the economic recovery obtained after the 2001 political, economic and social meltdown.... The Mar del Plata Summit has differing views on the future of hemispheric free trade, which is a critical point that will be left in hands of presidents.... The final statement should be clear and realistic and not fall into easy rhetoric or voluntarism.... Regarding the Counter-Summit organized by anti-globalization, human rights and picketers' organizations against U.S.-promoted policies and U.S. President George W. Bush..., we only expect that demonstrations do not exhibit intolerance and violence but, rather, that they are an example of peaceful opposition."
"FTAA Will Not Make Progress Without A Global Horizon"
Business-financial El Cronista editorialized (11/3): "Today, the U.S. is still attempting to convince other hemispheric countries that having it as a partner could be good business. But reality is that the FTAA is not enough for the current dynamics of international trade, which is affected by the ferocious emergence of China, India and other Asian countries. The search for an FTAA could serve to fix some bilateral conflicts on issues that are theoretically under the FTAA umbrella, such as services, IPR, and competitiveness policies. But it is clear that there will not be collective willingness to make progress on this issue if positive signs are not received at the WTO Doha Round. Countries like Argentina need to reinforce their insertion in markets, and this is why putting a brake on farm subsidies (which are granted by both Europe and the U.S.) is more crucial than reaching some hemispheric integration which is not a priority for its members."
"Rocky Road To The Summit"
The liberal, English-language Buenos Aires Herald editorialized (11/3): "Tear gas and rubber bullets are not enough to answer the challenge posed by the troublemakers, nor is turning Mar del Plata into even more a city under siege than it already is.... But in some ways the excesses of the Haedo vandalism have been positive--many of those in the forefront of stoking up feelings against the superpower presence of U.S. President George W. Bush at the Summit have been sufficiently alarmed by the potential for violence to take steps to keep anti-Bush activities within reasonable bounds. Thus Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has urged those attending the counter summit not to approach the Summit itself while pro-government local leftists...have pledged themselves to nipping any mayhem in the bud. If some Summit critics are thus distancing themselves from extremism, perhaps the Summit itself should take more steps to meet them halfway--relatively easy because all that needs to be done is to place greater stress on various points already in the Summit agenda. The Americas Summit is not just committed to blind growth but to the quality of growth as well--the creation of jobs...and the Millennium goal of halving poverty by the year 2015...so that this subcontinent no longer suffers the contradiction of being 98 percent democratic while at the same time the region with the world's most unequal incomes."
"What Kirchner Wants From His Meeting With Bush"
Joaquin Morales Sola espoused in centrist La Nacion (Internet Version 11/2): "When Nestor Kirchner speaks privately about the summit in Mar del Plata, he talks almost solely about his meeting with George W. Bush. What may be influencing him is his long-standing criticism of international "summitry," meaning how regularly presidents meet to decide nothing. Yet he is surely also reflecting the discreet importance that he attaches to his relationship with the leader of the sole surviving superpower. No one has ever heard Kirchner criticize or refer pejoratively to Bush or the United States. He has not done so in public, but he has not in private either, according to the testimony of several of his ministers..... As Kirchner has hinted in private conversations, his idea is to make a "temporary deal" with the IMF that does not impose heavy requirements on him or that imposes very few of them. 'The deal is simple: $5 billion in exchange for very little, one U.S. Treasury Department official put it caustically. Kirchner first envisioned a categorical pronouncement from Bush backing Argentina after their one-on-one meeting the day after tomorrow in Mar del Plata. But US diplomats let him know that silent diplomacy by Washington with the G-7 and IMF would be much more effective than a resounding public statement, which would only narrow the Bush administration's political maneuvering room.... But the riskiest case for Kirchner involves Venezuela's populist leader Hugo Chavez, who will take part in the summit and the counter-summit. 'There will be a summit, a counter-summit, and a counter-counter-summit,' Kirchner himself often quips. The Argentine president believes that he has contained Chavez with the argument that he would be placed in a difficult domestic or international situation if he had to choose between Bush and the Venezuelan."
"The Other Summit To Attract More People"
Eduardo Tagliaferro wrote in the center-left Pagina 12 (Internet version, 11/1): "By train, by car, and in bus caravans, the participants in Friday's rally in Mar del Plata that will oppose the presence of U.S. President George W. Bush in Argentina are gathering. The demonstrators will also express their support for Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who on Friday, 4 November will speak in the La Feliz soccer stadium. Before Chavez speaks to the nearly 40,000 people who will surely fill the stadium, Silvio Rodriguez, Victor Heredia, and Leon Gieco will sing. On Friday, the day of this rally, a hemispheric protest opposing Bush will be held by the members of the People's Summit. This event will include demonstrations in various cities in Argentina. The CTA [Argentine Workers Union] has called for people to place the [Argentine] blue and white flag on the fronts of all houses. The People's Summit, also known as the anti-summit, will formally begin today in the indoor mini-stadium in Mar del Plata.
La Capital remarked (Internet Version 11/1): "While the Third People's Summit has been convened by the Hemispheric Social Alliance [ASC in Spanish] to provide a forum where the participating countries can discuss possible alternatives (to consolidate other political models), social and union organizations that support a highly diverse array of ideological positions will be attending this summit. They do, however, unanimously oppose militarization, extreme poverty, and the debt."
"Negotiations On Final Declaration Remain Stalemated"
Florencia Carbone remarked in Buenos Aires' independent centrist La Nacion (Internet version, 11/2): The Fourth Summit of the Americas will not only provide an opportunity for Argentina to show the world its recovery after the 2001 crisis, but it will also put to the test the capacity of Nestor Kirchner's administration for maintaining equilibrium. As of last night the FTAA [Free Trade Area of the Americas] continued to be the virtual rough spot for the Argentine representatives who are involved in negotiating the final document. The reason for the slow progress in working out an agreement on whether or not this issue is to be mentioned in the final document and the way in which such a reference might be made is the conflicting desires of Venezuela and the United States, which are at opposing ends of the spectrum on this issue. The ideal situation for Venezuela would be for the ALBA [Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas] to replace the FTAA, the U.S. plan that Hugo Chavez and his people consider 'dead.' But the ideal in the view of the United States would be to have the document contain an explicit commitment on the part of the 34 countries of the hemisphere to resume--and if possible by a precise date--negotiations to get the FTAA started.... The Bush administration observed that the region had grown without generating much employment and it laid the blame on 'the politicians' who had instrumented the Washington Consensus. Nestor Kirchner retorted that Argentina had reduced unemployment by a third in three years, and he laid the fault for what happened in the 1990s on "the policies" of that Washington Consensus.Argentina is not alone in its position, but each country has its own particular nuance. They range from the Venezuela of Hugo Chavez that has taken a more radical stance that relies on government intervention to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's Brazil, which is pursuing a more orthodox economic policy."
BRAZIL: "The Announcement Bush Didn’t Make"
Business-oriented Valor Economico’s diplomatic columnist Sergio Leo commented (11/7): “The meeting between Presidents George W. Bush and Lula da Silva yesterday in Brasilia served for both to show that the political relationship between the two governments has achieved a higher level of strong political understanding, although the economic issues represent a wide gap between Brasilia and Washington…. Seldom in history have officials of both nations maintained so frequent contacts. Bush and Lula insisted on underscoring such rapprochement in the speeches they delivered yesterday.... Condoleezza Rice ensured to the GOB that the USG considers Brazil one of the U.S. foreign policy’s priorities in the developing world. Bush has treated Lula with a deference reserved to only a few chiefs of state. From the political standpoint, one can say that Bush’s visit was a success. From the economic and commercial point of view, both nations, although antipodal in regards to the FTAA, seem to get on well with each other in the negotiations preceding the decisive WTO ministerial meeting to take place in Hong Kong in December…. [However] the increase of confidence and cooperation between the GOB and the USG does not eliminate a serious problem… What delays the Brazilian relationship with the U.S. is protectionism…. Bush should take advantage of this visit to explain how he would tame the U.S. Congress’ protectionist fury.”
"Chavez Won Worthless Battle With Mercosul’s Sword"
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo’s political columnist Clovis Rossi remarked from Buenos Aires (11/7): “With his usual colorful rhetoric, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called his Argentine colleague Nestor ‘Dartagnan’ Kirchner. According to Chavez, Kirchner was the main of the five 'musketeers’ who defeated George Walker Bush in the 4th Summit of the Americas, which ended Saturday with a complete impasse on what to say about the FTAA.... Despite colorful, Chavez’s statement is partially true. If Dartagnan is a synonym for the major musketeer, Kirchner was the one because Brazil decided to adopt a lower profile. Brazil could have presented a text conciliating those who want ‘the FTAA now or as soon as possible’ with those who prefer adjourning it for an uncertain and undefined future. But Brazil wanted to respect the fact that Kirchner was the host and that he had domestic political needs to respond to.... The Mar del Plata ‘musketeers’ waged a paper battle: with or without any of the two paragraphs on the FTAA in the final text, the situation would not change, as it will not change. The negotiation has been stuck for 22 months and will continue this way until the occurrence of an understanding between the U.S., Argentina and Brazil on what type of FTAA they want, if they really want any. It was not necessary to call 34 presidents to Mar del Plata to show the obvious, i.e., that they ‘agree on disagreeing.’”
"Bush, Lula And The Americas"
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo’s economic columnist Celso Ming wrote (11/4): “Anti-Americanism is everywhere. Insurgent movements are growing in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. And in Venezuela, which sells 15 percent of the oil the U.S. imports, President Hugo Chavez does nothing but to preach and coordinate what in his understanding is a required Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA).... The Summit of the Americas may not produce anything interesting for the Americas, but it will be an opportunity for President Bush resume initiatives aimed at neutralizing such developments in Latin America. It is natural then that he comes closer to President Lula--who has helped to stop the conflict in Haiti--with the purpose of transforming him into a counterbalance to Chavez’s game.”
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo editorialized (11/4): “Chavez has a great popular prestige, especially among the poorest sectors of the population. It’s a paradox because during his administration, poverty in Venezuela not only increased, but the poor have become much poorer. Chavez proves that a disastrous government from the point of view of public liberties and of the national economy may be successful in electoral terms.... A mixture of truculence and social assistance is producing a social degradation in Venezuela that strongly contrasts with the increasing oil richness.... What does Chavez do with the oil richness? In addition to what he spends with social programs that do not reduce poverty, Chavez has acquired weapons not to equip the Armed Forces, but the popular militia, in preparation to resist a U.S. invasion in Venezuela--an imaginary argument he uses to attract popular support. He also finances revolutionary groups--on behalf of the Bolivarian Revolution, whatever it means--in Bolivia, Peru and Nicaragua.”
"Bush And The Good Neighborhood Policy"
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo’s lead editorial remarked (11/3): “During the 4th Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, President George W. Bush will say that the U.S. can be a good neighbor, and that the hemispheric nations have important common interests, should preserve democracy and look for free-trade advantages.... It is not a sensational agenda, but it is much more objective than the agenda proposed by the Argentine government for that chiefs of state meeting. In addition, he may take advantage of private conversations with the Argentine and the Brazilian presidents to discuss cooperation on specific points and to speak about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s populism and other anti-Americanism focuses in the region. South America has deserved very little space in the U.S.G. agenda.... Stuck in economic mediocrity, most of Latin America has been unable to attract Washington’s attention. There are no major crises in the region, but there are not great projects either since the freezing of the FT AA negotiations.... President Bush will meet with President Lula in Brasilia this weekend. On Monday, there will be another ministerial meeting in London to discuss agricultural trade. The issue will be on top of the common agenda when the two presidents meet. But Bush will certainly conduct the conversation towards a more delicate issue: Chavez’s anti-American diplomacy.”
"The Unbelievable Summit Of The Americas"
Economic editorialist Rolf Kuntz commented in center-right O Estado de S. Paulo (11/3): “The 4th Summit of the Americas may enter history as the most juiceless, worthless and pathetic conference ever held if its so-far known agenda is maintained. The agenda proposed by the Argentine government, host of the meeting, is nonsense…. Even to re-launch the FTAA, an American proposal, it is an exaggeration to convoke chiefs of state of 34 nations. More serious and competent diplomacies could already have concluded the issue and would not be discussing details now, on the eve of the conference.... The solution of all problems begins at home, with the definition of efficient policies of economic growth and modernization. Most of Latin America has failed in this point.... More realistic governments have looked for separate bilateral agreements with the U.S.”
"Game Of Performances"
Political analyst Demetrio Magnoli maintained in liberal Folha de S. Paulo (11/3): “George W. Bush and Hugo Chavez will be the major protagonists in the 4th Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata. The U.S. president will unfurl the FTAA flag, while the Venezuelan leader will raise the ALBA (Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas) banner.... In the meeting, South America will be a peripheral element in the main geopolitical and symbolic clash. The GOB’s foreign policy has exchanged the South American integration enterprise for the proclamation of a South American Community that has no value. Such a policy resigned a strategic alliance with Argentina, watched powerlessly the deconstruction of Mercosul, and promoted the military operation to maintain an illegal government in Haiti. From Brazil’s point of view, Mar del Plata is an epitaph: the tombstone on the grave where arrogance and irrelevance lie together.”
"Bush And The Summit Of The Americas"
Newton Carlos commented in Sao Paulo's center-left Folha de Sao Paulo (Internet Version, 10/31): "The Miami Herald, which always pays close attention to U.S. interests in Latin America, has underscored the fact that last year the Chinese president visited more countries in the hemisphere than Bush. Hu Jintao just took another step in this direction by paying a visit to Mexico. As the new bipolarity takes shape, with China taking over the role of the now-defunct Soviet Union, U.S. academicians and military analysts tend to compare the extent of Chinese penetration in Latin America to the White House's "neglect" of the region. The congressional briefing by Charles Shapiro, acting assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, did nothing to dispel the impression of political inadequacy in terms of inter-American relations. Will the upcoming Summit of the Americas on 4-5 November change this impression? The marching order, according to Shapiro, is to 'keep democracy on track.' Under the Bush administration, the United States believes the key issue in Latin America is disappointment over the 'inability of democratic governments' to fulfill the hopes of the masses..... Meanwhile, Chavez asserts that he has been targeted for assassination, and Morales talks of a plot to prevent him from winning the elections.... Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and other Latin American presidents are doing their best to convince the Bush administration that there is more to relations with Latin America than confrontation with Chavez and his satellites. According to the Chilean Government, there is a 'modern' center-left (Lagos is a socialist) that is more than willing to engage in a broad dialogue on more relevant topics. The outcome of the Ibero-American Summit [in Salamanca, Spain] should be taken seriously. The summit endorsed Venezuela and Cuba, which the White House regards as 'regional threats.'... The summit also created a permanent secretariat as the sole voice of the southern part of the hemisphere. It would seem that a new phase of 'challenges' to Washington is in the works. The Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata should yield more clues about this matter. At least it is expected to."
MEXICO: "FTAA Summit"
Eugenio Anguiano Roch, professor and researcher of the College of Mexico commented in El Universal (Internet Version, 11/2): "On Friday the Summit of the Americas will be held in the city of Mar del Plata, Argentina. Strictly speaking, this is actually the fifth of these summits. The heads of state and/or of government of 34 countries of the Western Hemisphere are expected to participate. The major country missing from these summits has been Cuba ever since then U.S. President Bill Clinton held the first meeting of leaders of the Americas in Miami in December 1994.... The Miami Summit produced a "Declaration of Principles" that highlighted support for democracy as the appropriate system of government for the Americas and the promotion of prosperity as a hemispheric objective and its spread through economic integration and free trade.... But things never proceeded calmly and smoothly as they had been expected to. When the second summit of the 34 countries of the Americas was held in April 1998 in Santiago, Chile, even though the subregional integration accords showed progress, the negotiations to create the FTAA were going very slowly.... A special summit meeting was held in Monterrey, Mexico in January 2004.... The obsession of the neoconservative U.S. administration with security, combined with problems like the huge foreign deficit of the United States, along with some events that occurred in Latin America, such as the victory of populism and of the left in Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay, caused the Monterrey meeting to fail, since it was not even able to maintain the deadline of 2005 for concluding the negotiations.... This is the situation preceding the meeting in Mar del Plata, where massive demonstrations are planned against the FTAA and against the very presence of George W. Bush, who will arrive at the meeting loaded with discredit. Still, that will not keep him from spouting his empty rhetoric."
"Bush Vs. Chavez: Backdrop Of Meeting"
Jose Vales wrote in centrist El Universal (Internet version, 10/30): "President George Bush will be making contact with Latin American chief executives at the summit that opens in Mar del Plata this Thursday. With the exception of Fidel Castro, who will appear on Diego Maradona's show three days before, the chief executives will be arriving at the summit with their bilateral agendas open as regards the White House and with a desire to make themselves heard on regional issues on which the two approaches that will apparently dominate the event are not in complete alignment. On one side is the United States, and on the other are countries like Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela, which deplore the economic policies of the 1990s.... Both Bush and his advisers realize that they could be left isolated diplomatically in Mar del Plata, even though several presidents have requested one-on-one meetings with him. One of them is Bolivia's Eduardo Rodriguez, who will seek support in dealing with the tough institutional situation in his country at present. Another is Uruguay's Tabare Vazquez, whose government has been flirting with Washington over the possibility of signing a free trade agreement owing to its unhappiness with Mercosur (Paraguay feels likewise). Bush will get unconditional support only from Colombia's Alvaro Uribe, Chile's Ricardo Lagos, and the chief executives of Central America. Still, the planned free trade agreement for the region is going through its toughest times."
CHILE: "President Bush Versus Maradona"
Andres Oppenheimer commented in conservative, influential newspaper-of-record El Mercurio (11/4): "It’s sad that Argentina’s left...is unable to demonstrate against Bush without embracing a totalitarian regime such as Cuba’s, and has forgotten that there is no such thing as a good dictator. But Washington could have prevented the Maradona-Castro honeymoon had it issued the soccer player a visa when he requested it in the 90s to undergo drug addiction treatment.... When Maradona learned that he would not get the visa he immediately turned to Cuba, where he lived for four years. But that is old history.... Now everything shows that we are about to see a propaganda battle between Bush and Maradona. But Maradona is on his home turf and is off with an enormous advantage."
"Anti Americanism--The Weight Of Prejudice"
Conservative, independent La Tercera opined (11/2): "It’s possible that an important part of the attention during the IV Summit of the Americas … will focus on the ‘alternative’ summit convoked by several organizations that oppose the U.S. President.... Among these anti American groups are those who deplore globalization and the capitalist model, but also attack the United States for not playing a more active role to promote free market; those who criticize its materialistic society, claiming it lacks ethics and values, but also criticize its excessive moralist stance; those who say the United States is intolerant of immigrants, and those who perceive its ethnic diversity as a weakness.... We can understand why the U.S. president’s foreign policy awakens criticism--there are more than enough reasons in the war on Afghanistan and Iraq, the rejection of the Kyoto Protocol, and the democratization of the Middle East--but the criticism of U.S. policy in any area or the type of society Americans have built should stand on its own ground and not be founded on an overall anti-American stance that is full of contradictions. To protest against President Bush because one disagrees with his policies or ideas is legitimate and democratic. But to do so only because he is the U.S. President in terms that leave no room for reasoned debate, does not contribute to dialogue. That is the difference between a rational argument and irrational prejudice."
"Bush Travels To Argentina With His Eyes Set On Brazil"
Andres Oppenheimer wrote in conservative, influential newspaper-of-record El Mercurio (11/1): "In the next few days there will be significant amount of news on George W. Bush’s trip to Argentina.... But the most important part of his trip is his one-day visit o Brazil after the summit, because there is grown fear in Washington that radical and leftist governments are on the rise in South America and a growing belief that Brazil… is the only country with enough political and economic leverage to contain them."
COLOMBIA: "Summit of the Americas"
Leading editorial in business La Republica asserted (11/4): "Once again the summit will be a stage for confrontation between two tendencies in the region, 'the two Americas' in opinion of experts. On one side is the U.S. and its partners (Colombia, among them), and on the other side the Mercosur nations now with Venezuela as an ally.... While the first ones defend free trade and the policies of the Washington Consensus to achieve growth that will generate employment and reduce the high levels of poverty (more than 220 million of poor in Latin America), the second demands the Government's intervention on behalf of social justice... A continental integration is urgent and necessary, especially in the conformation and consolidation of economic and commercial blocks that will determine the present and even the future of world economy... then, sooner or later, FTAA will come."
"A Strange Summit"
Leading editorial in Cali-based El Pais noted (11/4): "Today begins the IV Summit of the Americas with a failure almost assured ahead of time... Maybe the sole topic that characterizes both events (The Summit of the Americas and the parallel People's Summit) is the rejection of FTAA. Many presidents do not agree with promotion of the FTAA unless U.S. agriculture subsidies are discontinued."
"Summits And Counter-Summits"
Editorial Commentary in Cartagena-based El Universal stated (11/4): "Judging by the repetition of old and orthodox leftist slogans and acts of the 70'... the "Counter-Summit" has become equally as insubstantial as the Summit of the Americas."
"A Failed Strategy"
Bogota's influential El Tiempo (Internet Version, 10/30): "An international forum in Bogota and the comptroller general have just brought up for discussion an issue on which it is high time that our country's national interest prevailed: the policy of 'war on drugs.' Besides not having solved the problem in 34 years, it has created--or helped not to solve--other problems that are just as serious or more serious.... Similar issues were discussed in depth at the forum entitled 'Drug Trafficking: Relations Among Latin America, Europe, and the United States,' organized by the Sociocultural and International Studies Center (CESO) at the University of the Andes. The event had the advantage of bringing together the most distinguished experts in the three regions, in a setting that showed that, with regard to the current prohibitionist US policy, there are serious arguments in favor of other options.... The drug traffickers also will not stop as long as a kilo of cocaine, which is worth $1,500 in the Pacific region, sells for $25,000 in Miami. This difference can only be explained by the illegal nature of the business, which continues to be very relaxed and efficient even though doing away with the Medellin and Cali Cartels cost Colombia--not the United States--unspeakable suffering. Of those cartels it can be said, as in the United Kingdom, 'the king is dead. Long live the king!' Now there are the 'baby cartels' for succession. The close alliance between President Uribe and Washington is understandable. But his emphatic statement against legalization, at the 15th meeting of anti-drug representatives of Latin America and the Caribbean in Santa Marta two weeks ago, and his vehement defense of fumigation indicate that there will be no review of a strategy that has been questioned."
NICARAGUA: "The Summit Of The Americas"
Center-right national La Prensa ran the following editorial on the Summit of the Americas (11/4): "Regarding the Summit of the Americas, its most famous failure has been the impossibility to reach an agreement for the creation of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas which, according to the Declaration of Quebec in 2001 should have started this year. It is regrettable that this is not so, because the FTAA is the only real and viable way that the countries in Latin America can leave poverty and backwardness behind.... Nicaragua will present the conspiracy of the caudillos against democracy and will propose a reform in the OAS Democratic Charter so as to prevent similar situations to what happened in our country. Undoubtedly, this will be useful and of great interest for the leaders of the hemisphere. And as far as the U.S. goes, according to President Bush, this fourth Summit of the Americas offers a great opportunity to advance in the creation of a regional agenda that favors economic growth and the fight against poverty through the strengthening of democratic governance and free trade. We hope this is true."
"A Genuine Worry Over FTAA"
Juan Carlos Hidalgo commented in La Prensa (11/4): "The question for the fourth Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata, Argentina is clear: Can we hope for a strong advance towards a true inter-American free trade area in the next years? The worry is genuine: while the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez gives away petrodollars in exchange for sympathy towards his socialist Bolivarian project, the Bush administration finds itself weakened due to an array of domestic and foreign policy problems. If the Latin American countries keep waiting for the U.S. to take the lead on FTAA, we might lose the chance to make this project a reality in the near future.... The Latin American reality makes a regional agreement necessary and the initiative will not come from Washington. The political capital that the Bush administration has right now is at an all time low and it is not even clear if they will be able to get the Congress to approve the FTA with Panama or the Andean countries which is in negotiations, like they were able to get CAFTA approved by a very narrow margin. So, why should we wait for the U.S. to take the lead?
PARAGUAY: "Paraguay Will Continue To Bring Up The Rear Of The Brazil-Argentina Train”
An editorial column in circulation leader ABC Color (11/6): “With or without the FTAA, with or without Mercosur, Paraguay should strive to obtain access to the widest international market possible… Our interests are also different from those of Venezuela, whose immense oil revenues allow it the luxury of buying the sympathy of some of the continent’s needy governments in favor of its Marxist “Bolivarian Project. The huge error in our foreign policy is depending on the abusive treatment of Mercosur rather than striving for free trade with other nations. We are again losing an opportunity to spur the blossoming of our economy.”
"The Mar del Plata Summit"
An editorial column in business-oriented La Nacion (11/5): “(Paraguayan president) Duarte Frutos has announced that he has accepted the Brazilian claim to the political and economic leader of the region. He will vote against the wishes of the Paraguayan people, and in favor of a society that has been more damaging to our country than can even be imagined.”
"The Principal Problem In Latin American Countries Is The Corruption Of Its governments"
Circulation leader ABC Color remarked (11/4): "[The summit will be] a waste of time and money...if the heads of state attempt to firmly wage a ‘war on poverty’ by signing important documents with proposals to create decent employment, strengthen democratic governance and other policies while ignoring the principal cause of poverty in the hemisphere: the general situation (of a hemisphere) of corrupt governments. An effective hemispheric alliance to prosecute and do away with corruption...would have an enormous and enduringly positive impact on the economy, employment, the stability and democracy in the hemisphere, above all in the poorest countries, like Paraguay.”
"FTAA Not Viable, Duarte Frutos Says"
Osmar Gomez Roman wrote in Asuncion's top circulation ABC Color (Internet Version, 11/3): "Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte Frutos yesterday stated that he believes the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) is not a viable proposal. The FTAA, a proposal promoted by the United States, hopes to create a trade area extending from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. In response to a question on this topic, the president indicated that there is not much interest in the matter in South America, particularly among members of the Mercosur. Duarte Frutos said no one in the region is enthusiastic about the FTAA because the United States shows no sign of easing its protectionist measures. Duarte Frutos' remarks come just days before the Summit of the Americas is held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, where creation of the FTAA is in fact one of the key points of discussion. At another point during the press conference, the president was cautious in his remarks on relations with the People's Republic of China. Queried on this topic, Duarte Frutos replied only that Paraguay does not maintain diplomatic relations with that country and noted that the Republic of China in Taiwan is a friend of Paraguay."
"Unrevealed Strategic Alliance"
Political analyst Juan Luis Gauto commented in Asuncion's top circulation ABC Color (Internet Version, 10/28): "Paraguay is 'plagued' by other crimes that have taken root in the country: drug trafficking, money laundering, patents piracy, and other illegal activities. In fact, [FBI Director Robert] Mueller did not come to Paraguay by mere chance or on a courtesy visit. His presence is reportedly part of a program for implementing the "high-priority policy" that Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte Frutos allegedly proposed to the Bush Administration in Washington after participating in the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2003. We gained access to an unofficial report according to which, the proposal for a 'strategic alliance--whose initial manifestations are a great source of concern Brazil as well as Argentina--includes 'an offer from the U.S. Government to set up an Air Force base at the airport of Mariscal Estigarribia (Chaco Region) to jointly control Paraguay's airspace, which is totally unprotected at this time, thereby allowing drug traffickers to use it at will. The report in question adds: 'At the same time, the U.S. Government can be offered operational bases for the CIA and the FBI in major cities, such as Ciudad del Este, Pedro Juan Caballero, Salto del Guaira, and others, for direct monitoring of the tri-border area, the region's critical site. As for drug trafficking, the report states: 'It is necessary to monitor the critical tri-border area (Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina), where money laundering is possibly being used to finance terrorism and where piracy, patents forgery, and drug trafficking pose a never-ending problem.... U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's recent visit to Paraguay in August could well be part of this bilateral cooperation policy. The press release issued on his talks with Duarte Frutos at Mburuvicha Roga presidential residence addressed nothing but general and formal matters, although in fact Bush's envoy had voiced concern over the aggressive diplomatic policy of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, whose Bolivarian revolution has the endorsement of [Cuban] dictator Fidel Castro. The Paraguayan Government maintains close relations with both governments."
URUGUAY: "Surrounded By Tensions"
The Conservative Ultimas Noticias stated (11/4): "The Fourth Summit of the Americas does not promise very much, that's certain, and it is surrounded by tensions, but even so it cannot be seen as a sterile undertaking or condemned to failure.... Even though in Mar del Plata there is also a "counter summit, no one denies that Latin America needs to maintain the best possible relations with the United States. This certainly won't harm the region's own steps at integration, which have a relatively low profile. Furthermore being in harmony with Washington in matters of economic interest and political ideals is a sensible expression of 'realpolitik'. When the moment of the truth arrives, everything else from angry protests to anti-imperialist gestures becomes an exercise in futility"
"Bush Greeted By Condemnation Of Policies"
Noted Communist columnist, Niko Schvarz, stated in the left-wing La Republica (11/4): "Thousands in Mar del Plata express condemnation of the bellicose policies, the repression, and the militarization of the region which President Bush carries with him when he arrives today at the Fourth Summit of the Americas at a time when anti-imperialist sentiment has been revived throughout the continent... The People's Summit is searching for alternatives with the conviction that another America is possible.... In the current situation there is the peculiarity that these positions will be defended by the progressive governments in the region, expressing the new reality of Latin America".
VENEZUELA: "Bush In South America"
Leading liberal El Nacional editorialized (11/2): "After a long time of oblivion, the President of the United States will face Latin American realities this week. George W. Bush will have to travel to the south at a not so good moment for his presidency, when his popularity is in decline. He is currently affected by domestic political issues. On the hemispherical front, the United States has an agenda based on the FTAA. But, despite the adversities, Mr. Bush is confident in the interest most of our countries of the region have in trade with the northern market. Mexico and Chile, countries that are already integrated to the American economy, will be in Mar del Plata. The Central American countries which, together with the Dominican Republic, recently signed an agreement with the United States, will be there as well. The Andean countries--Colombia, Peru and Ecuador--that are in the last stage of the negotiations of their FTA will be present, too. So, Bush will have in Mar del Plata, more partners than those a Venezuelan propaganda recognizes. Venezuela proclaims the demise of the FTAA and the triumph of something known as ALBA, which only Cuba knows of. This propaganda is not serious, as reality shows. The United States is implementing a fragmented FTAA, that is true, but in the end, few will want to be left aside of it."
"Bush: Another Three Years"
Political analyst and author Aníbal Romero commented in leading liberal El Nacional (11/2): "After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the discredit of socialism, the Chinese decision for capitalism, and the decadence of the stagnant European model, the left was at a loss for proposals and its only energy focuses on only one direction: the hatred towards the United States and its President. It is evident that this hatred, especially when it comes to Bush, is kind of pathological and Bush's simple but strong personality drives his adversaries crazy. That is a good symptom, because it means that the U.S. President is doing the fundamental things very well. Bush has been persevering in his priorities, placing the war on terrorism on top of his agenda. Given the existence of characters such as Iran's current head of state, the criminal that tyrannizes North Korea, the Cuban despot and the crazy caudillo running Venezuela, the presence of a hard-line politician like Bush in the White House is reassuring, even though the left gets angry."
Foreign affairs expert, Adolfo P. Salgueiro commented in leading conservative El Universal (11/2): "The expectation of this summit will focus on what Chávez will do to irritate Bush and to become the center of attraction through non-orthodox behavior aiming at bringing the attention on him and on the political project he leads. As for the specific issues such as FTAA and ALBA, we only need to which one imposes on the other. Mexico, Central America, the Dominican Republic and Chile already have free trade agreements with the U.S., Colombia, Ecuador and Peru have entered the final stretch to sign them as well, whereas the famous ALBA only counts on Cuba, always willing to receive the gift from the new hemispherical Robin Hood. If Chávez gets away with it in Mar del Plata, he will say that the Summit was a success; if he doesn't he will say that it was a failure, but he will not refrain himself from participating in the next one and the next one."
"A Second Chance"
Foreign affairs expert Maria Teresa Romero commented in leading conservative El Universal (11/2): "The IV Summit of the Americas represents for President George W. Bush a valuable chance to improve relations with his Latin American neighbors. According to the news we get from the North, during the Summit, Mr. Bush will insist again on his thesis of free trade, FTAA and bilateral FTA as fundamental instruments to create jobs, to fight against poverty and to strengthen democratic governance in the hemisphere. But concentrating on these proposals, necessary though insufficient, will only provoke more criticism, street demonstrations, polarized positions and another weak final declaration as a result of this summit. Bush could, for example, try to mend fences; to show willingness to dialogue and a serious commitment with issues of interest for Latin Americans, such as the migratory agreement with Mexico, the region's external debt, protectionist practices, etc. He could also carry out his promise of social investment made in the 2004 Summit of Monterrey in order to alleviate poverty and inequity in the hemisphere. Only by doing so could he help achieve the desired and necessary rapprochement with his democratic counterparts and the strengthening of his hemispherical leadership."
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