November 13, 2006

Bush's USA: A Destabilizing Influence in Latin America

So get this..

Concerned that countries around the world might hold US soldiers responsible for War Crimes under new International Criminal Court rules, Bush pressured individual countries to sign waiver agreements. Many ICC-member countries around the world signed the agreements, but others point-blank refused, particularly in Latin America and the Carribbean, where anti-US sentiment has been rife for centuries. So Bush threatened them: sign the waivers, or we stop supplying you with weapons and cut off US military training for your goon squads.

Well, guess what? The result is that around half the countries in Latin America and the Carribbean still have not signed. And some of them are now getting weapons and training from China! Even Condi Rice admitted that the impact of the ban was "the same as shooting ourselves in the foot."

So in a hugely embarrassing backflip, which was hugely under-reported just days ahead of the elections, Bush has now cancelled the bans. USA TODAY has the details:
The 2002 U.S. law bars countries from receiving military aid and training if they refuse to promise immunity from prosecution to U.S. servicemembers who might get hauled before the International Criminal Court. The law allows presidential waivers.

The White House lifted the ban on 21 countries, about half in Latin America or the Caribbean, through a presidential memorandum Oct. 2 to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The training is conducted in the USA.

A ban on giving countries weapons remains. Commercial arms sales are not affected, said Jose Ruiz, a U.S. Southern Command spokesman... Ruiz said China "has approached every country in our area of responsibility" and has exchanged senior military officials with Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile and Cuba and provided military aid and training to Jamaica and Venezuela.
Note the bit I have highlighted above: money still talks, obviously. Bush's friends in the US military-industrial complex still make money hand over fist: it's just the free, taxpayer-funded arms giveaways that have been halted. If there's one thing these free-market monopolists hate, it's competition.

USA TODAY's "On Deadline" blog is also worth a read:
Public reaction appears limited so far. The School of the Americas Watch, which monitors and protests the U.S. military programs that have controversially trained Latin American military groups for decades, plans a large demonstration this month to protest the change and call for an end to the training.

The School of the Americas gained notoriety after the Pentagon's 1996 revelation that manuals used there "advocated executions, torture, blackmail and other forms of coercion against insurgents," as The Washington Post put it. A number of its graduates have also been accused of human rights abuses. The school closed in 2000 and was replaced by the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation the next year.
Check out the reader's comments on that post. Most agree that this is just a money-making racket for Bush and his corporate cronies. Here's one potted history of Bush's bungled policies:
We see a leftward swing in many Latin American countries that we did not under Clinton. Let's consider Bush/Cheney's foreign policies and think about why. In the 2001 Nicaraguan election, U.S. ambassador Oliver Garza s issued veiled threats about potential removal of all U.S. aid and economic ties if the people elected Ortega. In recent years even cruder threats were made prior to El Salvador's elections about cutting off all transfers of the money El Salvadorans working in the U.S. send home to their families, if the leftist FMLN party was elected. Earlier this year as part of a Bush administration bid to unite all right-wing Nicaraguan parties behind a single candidate, the U.S. selectively revoked visas of many (center-right) PLC party members after they did not bow to pressure to back a candidate preferred by the Bush administration. This followed many publicized visits from Bush officials to leaders of the center-right parties to influence their choice of nominees. And many PLC members went public about how they resented the pressure they were receiving from Washington. Then the Bush admin accuses Venezuela's Chavez of trying to influence the Nicaragua election...
The long, sad history of US-backed regime change in Latin America has been a tragedy for millions. The irony is that it serves the people of the USA no good either.
Well, looks like we'll be running the biggest terrorist training school in the world again. I guess Bush and his recycled Iran-Contra crowd don't want to be outdone by Al Queda. The Bush regime has no respect for people or democracy. He just wants right wing fascist governments that back the wealthy and big business.


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