[Marxism] Re: The Latin American-US Realignment

Julio Huato juliohuato at hotmail.com
Sat May 8 15:51:12 MDT 2004


Jose G. Perez wrote:

>Inside México and throughout the region, everyone --left, right and 
>center-- is scratching their heads wondering just what in the world Fox 
>thinks he is doing with his "realignment." Mexico isn't "isolating" a few 
>left-leaning states, it is isolating itself from Latin America. The last 
>few days Fox's mouthpieces have been on TV explaining how Cuba's 
>deportation of a man Mexico claimed it wanted amounted to gross 
>interference in Mexico's internal affairs.

A realignment of Mexico with respect to the U.S. and the rest of Latin 
America would not be meteorology.  It would be geology.  For a realignment 
of this kind to happen, the government would have to either be very strong 
-- i.e., enjoy broad popular support -- or rely on a decent measure of 
consensus among the ruling elites, or both...

Neither of these conditions is met now.  This is what I observe instead.  
Cuba seems to possess incriminating information about a plot by Fox and 
Creel to frame PRD politicians and expose them as corrupt.  Fox's goal is to 
stop Manuel López Obrador, the popular PRD mayor of Mexico City, from 
becoming president in 2006.  Fox is a lame duck, he was unable to pass any 
meaningful reform through Congress, the midterm congressional elections left 
the gridlock intact, and his popularity ratings are pathetic.  The guy just 
wants to cover his ass and perhaps leave something to his party and allies 
-- including his wife, who seems to have presidential dreams of her own.  
Neither of the three main national ideologies in Mexico (PRI and PRD's 
"revolutionary nationalism," PAN's "Catholic social liberalism," and PRD and 
leftwing "socialism") is *strongly* in favor of shifting the coordinates of 
Mexico's foreign policy.

Mexico's foreign policy is a matter of self-defense versus the overwhelming 
economic and military might of the U.S., given its history and imperialistic 
tendencies.  The increased interdependence with the U.S. -- forced by 
geography, demography, and economics -- makes Mexico's assertion of national 
independence even more necessary.  Carlos Salinas de Gortari, the most 
forceful engineer of Mexico's economic integration with the U.S. -- as a 
part of the PRI elite plan to reform the country after the long 1980s crisis 
-- was adamant about this.  He declared and wrote repeatedly that the 
economic integration in North-American had to be balanced with the 
strongest, independent foreign policy -- along the traditional, historical 
lines of Mexico's foreign policy, which emphasize national sovereignty and 
the rule of international law.  With different degrees of commitment, the 
ruling elites are on board on this, out of sheer self-interest.

Therefore, this thing we're watching is no realignment.

IMO, it is exactly what it appears to be: embarrassingly sloppy tactical 
politicking by Creel, Derbez, and Fox that is backfiring on them.  My best 
guess is that they didn't think through the consequences of attacking Cuba 
to cover their butts and/or to fetch a few small political gains from 
Washington.  It seems to me that Fox's relationship with Powell and Bush was 
greatly affected by Fox's slow and weak demonstration of solidarity to the 
U.S. as a result of 9/11.  This contrasted sharply with, for example, France 
or Canada's immediate show of solidarity.  Fidel Castro himself reacted 
effectively, condemning the terrorist attacks, expressing sincere solidarity 
with the U.S., as well as offering concrete assistance to the U.S. 
government in the struggle against terrorism.  Because of his misstep, Fox 
agonized about standing up to Washington at the UN Security Council when 
Bush demanded his vote to invade Iraq.  At the end, Fox decided to deny the 
vote to Washington, because of the geological reasons that I tried to 
explain above.  So Powell told Castañeda to forget about the "whole 
enchilada" on migrant workers -- or even a piece of it.  And ever since Fox 
has been trying to mend fences with Washington, but with no implicit or 
explicit mandate to betray Cuba or sacrifice the core of Mexico's foreign 
policy.)

Creel is a rightwing ideologist with a strong animosity against Cuba, or so 
I believe.  He was imposed on Fox by the traditional pro-business, 
anti-communist wing of the PAN.  Derbez is a rightwing pragmatist -- 
incompetent and with little backbone.  I'm saying this based on my very 
personal, subjective observations.  I don't pretend to know the inside 
workings of the Fox administration, but if my imagination is not running 
wild, I would say that Creel was the one who persuaded them to go ahead and 
sell the Geneva vote to Washington.

(Of course, the engineer of Mexico's change of attitude in Geneva is Jorge G 
Castañeda, a brat from the left with a long and bitter personal animosity 
against Cuba.  He argued that Mexico could not defend Mexico's migrant 
workers against the U.S.'s constant violation of their human rights if it 
didn't condemn Cuba's alleged human rights abuses as well.  This was 
supposed to be a double standard that weakened Mexico's independent foreign 
policy stance.  The reason why PRI administrations had not condemned Cuba 
previously in Geneva -- he argued -- was because the PRI itself denied the 
political rights of Mexicans by the force of the PRI's patronage system and 
fraudulent election machinery.  Derbez just followed up on Castañeda's 
anti-Cuba stance.)

Fox, Creel, and Derbez had no idea whom they were dealing with.  The 
devolution of Ahumada and then Fidel's scathing critique of Mexico's vote in 
Geneva (May 1 speech) seemed to take them by surprise.  They probably 
thought that the speech was a clear signal that Cuba would expose Fox & 
Creel's anti-PRD plot.  Cuba's diplomatic note on Ahumada's deportation made 
it clear that Ahumada had been exhaustively interrogated in Cuba and that he 
had declared on the record that underlying the scandal was a political plot, 
clearly pointing to Fox and Creel.  IMO, this scared the hell out of them.  
And they overreacted.  They overreacted because Cuba also made it clear that 
in the diplomatic note that this was an issue for Mexicans to sort out -- a 
domestic affair.

If I'm allowed to speculate on the personal dynamics, I think that Creel 
pushed Fox and Derbez to recall their ambassador in Havana, expel Cuban 
diplomats, and demand that the Cuban ambassador leave the country, thus 
effectively threatening to end 45 years of a fairly respectful and even 
friendly relation between Mexico and Cuba.  It was obviously (to me at 
least) a rushed decision.  Derbez lacked the wits and the backbone to oppose 
the idea.  And the idiots thought it'd be cheap for them.  This really shows 
to me that they had little idea of what they were doing or that they were 
really scared, or both.

Come the Creel-Derbez's press conference on Thursday.  Creel didn't need to 
be there, because his role is not of chancellor, but of interior minister.  
So, chances are he forced himself there just to make sure Derbez didn't 
chicken out.  Why?  Because, on Wednesday (if I remember correctly), Derbez 
made public the offer of a truce to Cuba, apparently with Fox's OK.  Creel 
didn't like the idea a bit (perhaps because he's deepest in the shit of the 
PRD-Ahumada plot).  In the press conference Creel was adamant at minimizing 
the truce offer and effectively tried to sabotage it repeating the charges 
against Cuba, that Cuba was intervening in Mexico's internal affairs. :-)  
In the press conference, Derbez tried to hint that he wasn't as 
ideologically anti-Cuba as the other idiot and that the truce was serious, 
but he obviously didn't have the guts to stand up to Creel.

So it's a mess.  No coherent plan.

The reaction in Mexico against all this was swift and came from a very broad 
array of political forces with virtually nobody from the PAN side doing 
damage control.  The virtual consensus is, "It's stupid to break up with 
Cuba.  Fox is just trying to please Washington and/or prevent the Ahumada 
affair from blowing in his face."  Then yesterday, Fox learned about Bush's 
speech against Cuba.  Derbez and Fox rushed immediately to criticize 
Washington and the measures, mark distance, and claim that they condemn any 
attempt by the U.S. to intervene in Cuba, etc. etc.

Does Bush have a plan to attack Cuba and distract people from the Iraqi 
debacle?  Is Mexico playing the role of enabler or accomplice?  Well, Cuba 
has every reason to ponder worst-case scenarios and be prepared in any case. 
  But it seems to me that the main motivation behind Bush's demagoguery is 
Karl Rove's advise to buy a few cheap Florida votes, even though the 
tightening of the blockade will likely hurt a lot of Cubans in Florida and 
won't work.  So, in spite of the "future wars" anticipated by the Pentagon 
bureaucrats, I am under the impression that Bush is not very eager to invade 
any other country any time soon -- particularly not Cuba, who fights (and 
wins!).

And behind Fox's erratic political behavior?  Well, I don't think Mexico's 
government is leading any significant realignment in its relationship with 
the U.S., Cuba, or the rest of Latin America.  They are just idiots.  That's 
my Occam's Razor conjecture on these events.

Julio

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