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Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Intervention in Nicaragua, part II

Yesterday I wrote about U.S. intervention in Nicaragua. Today WIIIAI calls our attention to an article in the Independent which goes into much more detail on the subject.

This quote, with the American Ambassador explaining why he thinks it appopriate for the U.S. to express strong opinions (and do much more, of course) about an election in another country, has one very telling word. I'm sure you'll spot it:

"Since [last] October we have been trying to speak in a more direct way so that people understand what our decision is. I think it is important that people have no doubts about what we think."
Not "our opinion." "Our decision.

Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, explains what's going on:

"US policy in Latin America under the Bush administration has been uniquely ideologically driven, far more than it was even under the Reagan administration. The latest thing is that US ambassadors in places such as Bolivia, El Salvador and Costa Rica all walk in and say, 'The US has made it clear is supports free and fair elections but if a non-US-friendly candidate wins we will cut off US aid'. They are quite open about it."

"That is why [the Cuban leader, Fidel] Castro is so popular in Latin America, because he is defiant. That is why [Venezuela's elected President, Hugo] Chavez is so popular in Latin America, because he gives the finger to Washington. He makes obscene gestures both literally and metaphorically."
The article also gets down to brass tacks, and explains some of the activities of the NED (National Endowment for Democracy [sic]) and one of its grantees, the IRI (International Republican Institute):
The International Republican Institute (IRI) was involved in helping organise opponents of Haiti's former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the nation's democratically elected leader, who was forced from office in 2004. At one point, the IRI organised meetings for Mr Aristide's opponents in the neighbouring Dominican Republic. The NED also played a significant role in assisting the opponents of Ukraine's President, Viktor Yanukovych, in 2004's so-called "Orange Revolution".

The US [has] spent $10m in Nicaragua to fund political education and civil society groups. Ivania Vega Rueda, a programme officer for the IRI in Nicaragua, told the report's authors that the IRI had been active in helping organise marches against the FSLN and another political party, the Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC). She said the IRI had "created" the Movement for Nicaragua, which she said had organised marches against the two parties.
As an aside to what's written above, although I quoted Larry Birns, I don't agree with him. The U.S., with its totally self-centered view of the world, thinks that Cuba and Venezuela are "giving them the finger" when, say, Venezuela withdraws its Ambassador from Israel or when Cuba announces its support for Iran's right to develop nuclear power. Of course this is nonsense. What Cuba and Venezuela practice, and Latin Americans (and people around the world) admire, is an independent foreign policy, not "giving the finger to the U.S." Additionally, while that is certainly one reason why Castro and Chavez are popular in Latin America, another reason, and arguably a much bigger one, is that they have both turned the economies of their country toward meeting the needs of their people, rather than the needs of corporations. And that, much more than the independent foreign policy, is why the U.S. fears Cuba and Venezuela, and fears the possible addition of other countries to the list of those following that economic model.

For just one example of why Latin Americans might admire Cuba, consider today's news (news in Cuba; it didn't make the "Western" corporate media):

Preceded by France, Cuba is the second country in the world to produce a vaccine that protects infants against five childhood diseases, to be given throughout the country starting September 1.

Dr. Miguel Angel Galindo, head of the National Immunization Program, has announced that Cuba is to include within the Ministry of Public Health official scheme this vaccine to combat diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, Hepatitis B and Haemophilus Influenza type B.

He announced that it is to be administered in the country’s 494 polyclinics, benefiting 50,000 children by the end of 2006.

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