Monday, April 20, 2009

Axes of paranoia?

Argentine President Cristina Fernández of Argentina: axis-less?

Moisés Naím has an interesting take on Latin American international politics in The 'Axis of Lula' vs. the 'Axis of Hugo' Foreign Policy Online. A Spanish version of the article appeared in El País 29.03.2009, El 'Eje de Lula' y el 'Eje de Hugo'.

Naím describes his "axis of Hugo" this way:

Does this mean that El Salvador is the newest member of the "Axis of Hugo"? In addition to Venezuela and Cuba, the core of that axis is formed by Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Honduras and Paraguay are also part of this alliance, though their governments have an internal opposition that prevents their leaders from becoming full-fledged members.
This definition of an "Axis of Hugo", apart from being a dumb label, also has the dubious distinction of defining it as though such a thing meant the absence of "an internal opposition". Of the countries he lists there, only Cuba could be said to lack any free opposition. There is an argument to be made that Hugo Chávez style of rule presents dangers to democracy. But the fact that his opposition has proven to be singularly feckless, and in the 2002 coup attempt in part treasonous, doesn't mean it's not there.


If there is a common thread among those countries compared to other Latin American nations right now, it would be in a more pronounced economic nationalism. In the case of both Venezuela and Bolivia, they share a history of foreign exploitation of their natural resources (oil in Venezuela, natural gas in Bolivia), a level of exploitation which they voters regard, not without reason, as having been excessive.

In terms of geopolitical issues, it's worth noting that on several touchy issues in recent years: Colombia's brief military incursion into Ecuador, the violent rightwing separatist movement in Bolivia and the normalization of relations with Cuba, Latin American nations have shown a striking level of solidarity.

Naím's main point is actually calling attention to the increasing clout of Brazil. And he has a valid point with this:

Hopefully, Obama's overture to Brazil signals a change in the long-held propensity of the United States to spend all of its time on Latin America's smallest countries and issues while neglecting the continent-size country in the middle. If the Obama administration were to give Brazil the time and political capital usually spent by the U.S. government on Cuba, it would find much higher rates of return.
In a more recent article in El País 19.04.2009 La cumbre del calipso, Naím's expands on his effort to designate good and bad camps, or at least good and less-good camps. Here he lists on the good side, "Brasil, México, Colombia, Chile, Perú y Costa Rica". On the not-so-good side, "Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Paraguay y Honduras."

His argument isn't terribly convincing to me. Some omissions are especially notable, including Cuba, Argentina and Uruguay. He does point out that Venezuela has organized an Alternativa Bolivariana de las Américas (ALBA) that includes "Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Dominica" and Ecuador. This isn't a military alliance, though it does establish a closer political relation among those countries. Somehow, I find it difficult to be alarmed at the fact that ALBA is expanding to include San Vicente y las Granadinas. (Quick: where is that on the map?)

There are real differences in policy and interests between the United States and Venezuela. But to regard Venezuela as a hostile power at this point would be foolish. The United States has an incredible opportunity at the moment to dramatically improve relations with Latin America. I hope that neither the Obama administration nor the Congress blow it. Right now, the administration is on a very positive track in bettering relations.

Tags: , ,

| +Save/Share | |

Links to this post:

Create a Link




FEATURED QUOTE

"It is the logic of our times
No subject for immortal verse
That we who lived by honest dreams
Defend the bad against the worse."


-- Cecil Day-Lewis from Where Are The War Poets?


ABOUT US

  • What is the Blue Voice?
  • Bruce Miller
  • Fdtate
  • Marcia Ellen (on hiatus)
  • Marigolds2
  • Neil
  • Tankwoman
  • Wonky Muse

  • RECENT POSTS

  • Torture and the rule of law
  • Assigning responsibility for the torture program
  • PBS Newshour bungles the torture memos story
  • Torture Excused
  • How democracy dies, Chapter 423
  • Not going away
  • How much attention to give "crazy"?
  • Strange Conversations
  • About that "Next Attack"
  • Obama and the Establishment press, Week 12

  • ARCHIVES




    RECENT COMMENTS

    [Tip: Point cursor to any comment to see title of post being discussed.]
    SEARCH THIS SITE
    Google
    www TBV

    BLUE'S NEWS





    ACT BLUE











    BLUE LINKS

    Environmental Links
    Gay/Lesbian Links
    News & Media Links
    Organization Links
    Political Links
    Religious Links
    Watchdog Links

    BLUE ROLL


    MISCELLANEOUS

    Atom/XML Feed
    Blogarama - Blog Directory
    Blogwise - blog directory

    Blogstreet
    Haloscan


    Blogger

    hits since 06-13-2005

    site design: wonky muse
    image: fpsoftlab.com