This last junket by
George W. Bush may have been considered a tour de force for US relations with
Latin America, but it wasn�t much of a tour and definitely provided no feat; in
fact, it was a total waste.
Brazil�s heads of state, both on the opposite side of the political spectrum
from Bush, were forced to appear diplomatically courteous, probably wondering
why Condi Rice had cast them to play in this five-act farce. The stops in
Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico did make a lot more sense since those nations
are major suppliers for America�s top two illicit addictions: drugs and
immigration. �lvaro Uribe (Colombia)
and Felipe Calder�n (Mexico)
have a good compa in Bush. Not the other leaders.
It was a
meaningless trip for a meaningless dignitary to an already lost part of the
world (in terms of special, neighborly relations). Latin Americans, at least
the 80 percent who are dirt-poor, have realized that the US has never been
their friend, only a detached stepmother; and that any future overtures
probably carry price tags they can ill afford.
Why would the
United States help Latin America . . . it never has! For a century all the
programs and money invested in the American Down Under have been either
minuscule (programs) or have had exploitative results (investments). To hear
Bush speak and say that the $1.6 billion sent last year went for �social
justice� causes is going from the ridiculous (the small amount) to the sublime
(stating that it was for worthwhile causes), back to the ridiculous (as most of
those funds were used for military purposes to fight the FARC guerrillas in
Colombia, or for the interdiction of drugs). In fact, Venezuela with a
population one-twelfth that of the United States provided last year far more
help to the people of Latin America, when you add the price breaks on oil to
the direct aid, than the US. So stop the on-going deceit, Mr. President; social
justice causes, you say?
But even if America of
the North has never felt compelled to help the America to the South, it
recognizes that the Latin folks play key roles in the US� two great addictions.
For better or for worse the Latin and Anglo parts of the hemisphere are linked
in many ways; and that�s a fact that politicians there and here know quite
proselytize supply-side economics have played working Americans for suckers for
over a quarter of a century with their �trickle-down economics.� But, what�s
just as bad is that politicians who refuse to acknowledge our demand-side
realities have played all Americans for suckers twice that long. Republicans
and Democrats, both!
We have been �at
war� with those who supply illicit drugs to our population for more than two
generations, failing to admit that drug-addiction is mainly a demand problem,
not supply. Having a Drug Czar and our war on drugs to defend our purity has
been but a crock. If we stop being hypocrites and call a spade a spade, our
level of success with this biological-social problem would be far greater
domestically -- at a much lower cost -- and we wouldn�t have to cause so many
problems to nations in Latin America that supply us. This is an issue where
most intelligent people, capitalists or anarchists alike, would find total
agreement: that it is nonsensical to treat the alcohol-drugs problem as
criminality. But politicians have preferred to keep their eyes closed to this
And, in a similar
fashion, politicians have also decided to keep their eyes closed to the other
domestic reality, one that now dominates the American landscape: undocumented
or illegal immigrants (adjective to be used depending on how you view the
subject). Why? For the simple reason that this form of immigration is also an
addiction, one that needs to be tackled from the demand, not the supply side.
Again, just like the illicit drugs issue, it should not be treated as
criminality. In both cases we need to quell or treat the demand with appropriate
legislation that addresses all humane and social aspects, not just economic and
addiction to undocumented labor is not just restricted to businesses but also
the greedy side of the average Joe and Jane. Our anarchical state on the issue
of illicit immigration is everyone�s fault, not just politicians of the right,
or the other politicians of the lesser-right. The problem has been around for
decades, was poorly addressed two decades ago, and now has become a monster
that scares us all; a dragon that people demand be slain, calling for that
knight, Jingo, and squires like Lou Dobbs and Patrick Buchanan to rid us of it
once and for all, so that we may keep our whored virginity intact.
On his last stop,
in Mexico, Bush was admonished by that country�s recently elected (or not,
according to his leftist challenger) mandatary that building a wall along the
border is not the answer to stopping his countrymen from crossing over. And
Calderon is quite right about that. The US with its addiction has created an
addiction for that country as well, as $20-30 billion are sent by the
immigrants to their families in Mexico every year, the second largest source of
revenue for that nation after the Almighty Crude.
A social worker
friend, whose maternal grandparents had crossed the border illegally from
Mexico in the 1950s, told me last year -- I assume it was in jest -- that if
the US really wanted to solve this crisis, not just for us but for the Latinos
as well, we should round up all able-bodied undocumented workers and give them
some Al-Qaeda type of training for six or eight weeks, then send them back to
their countries of origin with an AK-47 in their hands, and a promise that the
US would help once they mow down their corrupt governments. I didn�t have the
heart to tell her that this nation neither funds nor gives its imprimatur to
revolutions by the oppressed . . . it�s only the oppressors we help. It�s the
nature of predatory capitalism . . . how many times must we be told!
As for America�s
two great addictions, we�ll continue to do little or nothing, blaming -- as
always -- the supply-side.
� 2007 Ben Tanosborn
Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA),
where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at email@example.com.