lunes, abril 20, 2009

Under the Magnifying Glass: Obama faces Latin America’s new-found multipolarity | La Jornada, Mexico

By Alfredo Jalife-Rahme, English translation by Gerardo Alejos.

Barack Obama faced in Trinidad and Tobago –where he enthusiastically advocated Cuba’s triumphant return [to the OAS]– a majority of 31 Latin American heads of state; their position was very different to the heart-warming entreguismo [appeasement, submissiveness] of [Mexico's President Felipe] Calderon, who is shamelessly handing over the Mexico/US border –and its natural gas fields– to the NORAD/Northern Command US couple –although it is only fair to note herein the connivance of the PRI [Mexico’s Institutional Revolutionary Party] Congress leaders, [Senate leader Manlio Fabio] Beltrones and [Chamber of Deputies leader Felipe] Gamboa Patron.

Calderon has exaggeratedly militarized all civil activities in Mexico, a formerly pacifist and peaceful country whose army used to be trained to maintain peace, and he has turned Mexico into the “guinea pig in the Pentagon’s irregular war” (Bajo la Lupa, 4/15/09).

In complete agreement with Mexico’s military annexation to the Pentagon, Calderon embraced the bloodthirsty neoliberal energy agenda of the US –a key point of [former president Vicente] Fox’s SPP: the Security (super sic!) and Prosperity (super sic!) Partership of North America– by means of the controversial measures regarding the emission of greenhouse gases, and has completely forgotten to even mention –much less demand the demolition of– the shameful border wall that Baby Bush unilaterally militarized.

Sailing against the global historical tide, Calderon –who turned out to be more of an ardent fan of the outdated NAFTA than Obama– is sinking along the Titanic-like decrepit unipolarity of the US, and he hasn’t figured out yet that most of the other Latin American leaders are leaning toward multipolarity. Calderon clearly doesn’t understand the meaning of “competitiveness,” a word that he spouts non-stop, as “neoliberal Mexico” still holds a mediocre global position.

So, just like Obama found that most of the 31 Latin American heads of state were far-removed from Calderon’s unipolar dependence, the Latin American leaders –as a whole– found that Obama was extremely eager to reconcile the US with Latin America, and that his position was decidedly different to Baby Bush’s unilateralism.

This fifth Summit of the Americas is very different to its first edition in Miami, in 1994, when then-vicepresident Al Gore launched the now-extinct Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), laid to rest by the creative Latin American heads of state in the 4th summit that was held in Mar del Plata [Argentina], where the laughable Fox-Martita [i.e. Martha Sahagún, Vicente Fox’s wife] couple antagonized most delegates –including Cristina Fernandez, before she became president of Argentina–.

In the fourth summit, Baby Bush used the loquacious Fox as a Trojan horse to undermine the Latin American cohesion that heroically rejected a suicide that the poisonous FTAA was about to cause.

But in this fifth summit, Calderon has found it impossible to market the exaggerated militarization and narcotization –in both senses of the word– of Mexico –which nominally affects our civil democracy and human rights situation– and his neoliberal handing over of Mexican oil, as the only model that should be followed by the other Latin American countries, most of which are already on the path of being freed from the US economic and financial custody –i.e. the Monroe doctrine– in the new multipolar era.

Obama became aware of three different [ideological] positions in Latin America: 

1) Calderon’s position, which is unacceptable for most of Latin America, a region in which “neoliberal Mexico” is becoming increasingly isolated; 

2) the position of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA, in its Spanish acronym), very daring and creative in geopolitical terms given its multipolarity; these countries are willing to negotiate with Obama without surrendering to the US unipolarity, while building bridges with Europe, the Middle Eastern, Africa, China, Russia and India; and 

3) Brazil’s position, somewhere in the middle of the FTAA and the ALBA, with the strikingness of representing one of the emerging powers of the 21st century, along with the RIC countries –Russia, India and China–.

Given the way in which Obama organized his group meetings in Puerto España, he visibly accepted the existence of three geoeconomic regions in Latin America: South America, Central America and the Caribbean –where “Calderon’s Mexico”, with its shameful border wall, is totally adrift after placing its highest bet on the failed North American integration, which –at most– will be relevant in terms of people and immigration.

It is undeniable that after 100 days of his arrival into the White House, Obama is still on a global honeymoon –shared with his wife, Michelle–, reflected in the “Obama-mania” that has just reached Latin America. But curing the wounds that Baby Bush has inflicted througout the world –particularly in Latin America– won’t be an easy task.

The Obama administration is distressed by the ongoing loss of its position, not to say its leadership, in Latin America, so in this fifth summit it has summoned all of its seductive power in order to carry out a Latino perezagruska: the reactivation of the relationships with Latin American countries.

Obama is already aware of the impossibility of “Calderonizing” the remaining Latin American countries, most of which are more assertive and self-assured than ever.

Behind the seductive reconciliation represented by the “Obama-mania”, through which the US is temporarily playing a defensive role in Latin America, lies the nefarious intention of the US to stop, and even to Balcanize, the astounding expansion of the ALBA, formed by Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia, Dominica, Nicaragua and Honduras, with Ecuador and Paraguay as guests.

Obama’s problem is that “Calderon’s Mexico” is not attractive or marketable [as a Latin American model] – in a marketing sense, it is even counterproductive–, so the Obama administration is on the quest to find easily-adaptable governments –such as Colombia, Peru and Chile– in order to create an anti-ALBA partnership under the military guidance of the US.

As I write this column, Obama hasn’t brought up in the summit Bush’s idea to create a new forum for the countries of the Americas, based on the “Pathways to Prosperity (super sic!) in the Americas” (White House communiqué, 11/24/08), as a disguised attempt –a new “pathway”?– to resurrect the deceased FTAA, so that it would counterbalance the South American integration being carried out by the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR, in its Spanish acronym), which is likely to become one of the main geopolitical poles of the planet, in the 21st century.

Two days after the mentioned White House communiqué [was issued], the ALBA creatively upped the ante with its single currency project –the “sucre”–.

Calderon’s neoliberal and submissive speech during Obama’s visit to Mexico was a vulgar reproduction of several of the seven points of Bush’s “Pathways to Prosperity in the Americas” communiqué, which was originally issued in New York city with the consent of heads of state and delegates from Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, US, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Peru and the Dominican Republic.

Upon the risk of being immolated in the hells of history, several of these countries, either due to pressure or repression, will gladly become members of an alliance against the ALBA and, if possible, against UNASUR.

Be that as it may, most of Latin America has decisively turned toward multipolarity. And now Obama knows it better than anyone else.

- Originally published in the column Bajo la Lupa of the newspaper La Jornada, April 19, 2009, Mexico City.