U.S. mouthpiece Andres Oppenheimer outlines yankee plan for Latin American protectorates

Jose G. Perez jgperez at netzero.net
Sun Jun 3 21:17:28 MDT 2001


[Andrés Oppenheimer is the Miami El Herald's star Latin American
reporter/commentator.

[A die-hard advocate of neo-liberal economic policies, he is now in the
running for the "pitiyanqui of the new millenium" award by pimping for Latin
America to become a formal protectorate of the United States under the guise
of promoting U.S.-style "democracy" {for more information onU.S.
"democracy," please consult the last presidential election, where the guy
who LOST by half a million votes wound up as president}. Thus, as ever, the
OAS strives to live up to Che's description of it as "el ministerio de
colonias yanqui" {the yankee ministry of colonies}.

[This proposed U.S. protectorate resolution is the concrete implimentation
of the "democracy clause" in the Quebec City Free Trade of the Americas
declaration.]

[This column is lifted from the Herald's online edition at the following
URL:

[www.miami.com/herald/content/news/columnists/oppen/digdocs/075459.htm --
José]

* * *

Latin America ready for tough democracy rules?

OAS proposal could pave road to use of economic sanctions
In less than three weeks, the United States, Canada and Latin American
countries will have a chance to make history: They will sign a deal that --
depending on its language -- could lead to economic sanctions against
countries that move toward authoritarian rule.

According to a confidential draft of the agreement, the 34 member countries
of the Organization of American States -- which gathers all countries in the
hemisphere except Cuba -- will consider signing an ``Inter-American
Democratic Charter'' at the OAS annual meeting to be held in San Jose, Costa
Rica, June 5.

While OAS member countries already signed a deal for the collective defense
of democracy in 1991, this one would be much wider in scope, diplomats say.

``It paves the way for a wide range of collective actions . . . all the way
to the ultimate route, which is economic sanctions,'' said Peter M. Boehm,
Canada's ambassador to the OAS.


A TIMELY ISSUE

The issue couldn't be more timely: Just last week, Venezuela's
democratically elected President Hugo Chávez announced he is considering
declaring a ``state of emergency'' -- a move that opponents say would amount
to an ``autogolpe,'' or ``self-coup.'' And there are lingering questions
over Haitian leader Jean Bertrand Aristide's commitment to fundamental
freedoms.

But will Latin American countries dare sign a Democratic Charter with
economic sanctions? And if they do, will it be any more consequential than
the pompous-sounding OAS documents that countries routinely often sign and
later circumvent?


NO ROOM TO WIGGLE

I'm not sure. On the positive side, the draft agreement -- sponsored by
Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Peru and the United States -- leaves no room
for tricky interpretations of democratic rule, such as those often voiced by
Chávez or Cuba's Fidel Castro.

The OAS agreement, proposed by President Bush and more than two dozen other
leaders at the recent Summit of the Americas in Quebec, would define
democracy as a system that includes ``periodic alternation of authorities
through free and fair elections'' and ``freedom of expression.''

Furthermore, it would establish that ``any unconstitutional alteration or
interruption of the democratic order in a state of the hemisphere
constitutes an insurmountable obstacle'' for participation at the OAS
General Assembly ``and any other bodies established in the OAS.''


SIGNIFICANT STEP

As boring as they sound, those last words would amount to a significant step
forward if they openly invited OAS-linked financial institutions such as the
Inter-American Development Bank to suspend loans to nondemocratic countries.
That would definitely grab the attention of potential autocrats.

The IDB spends up to $8 billion a year in loans for health, education and
economic development projects, and is the largest international lender for
such projects in the region.

On the negative side, I found no explicit reference in the draft to the
possible suspension of IDB loans, or other economic sanctions.

Supporters of the draft document say that, in the long run, it is bound to
have economic consequences: Countries suspended from the OAS General
Assembly under the current language will be automatically excluded from
meetings to create a planned Free Trade Area of the Americas by 2005. And if
they can't participate in these meetings, they will not be able to be part
of the hemisphere-wide free trade deal, they say.

That's very nice, but totally spineless. The 15-member European Union has a
``democratic clause'' with economic sanctions, and so does the European Bank
for Reconstruction and Development, Europe's equivalent of the IDB.


NO REASON

There is no reason for the Western Hemisphere not to have a similar
provision, especially at a time when Latin American democratic gains of
recent years are under growing threat.

P.S.: Just after announcing he may declare a state of emergency, Venezuela's
Chávez has embarked on a three-week tour of Russia, Iran, China, India,
Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia. If the situation in Venezuela is as
serious as Chávez claims, how come he can afford to take a three-week world
tour?






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