[Marxism] Forget the summit -- watch Bush in Brazil

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sun Oct 30 07:25:57 MST 2005

(They rag on Cuba for its supposed lack of democracy, but they were
the first to applaud a military coup which overthrew Hugo Chavez in
April 2002, and are now petrified at the thought that revolutionary
indiginous leader Evo Morales, a staunch supporter of the Cuban
revolution seems poised to win the presidency of Bolivia through a
parliamentary democratica process. Natually Washington is trying to
pit Brazil, Latin America's largest country, against the even more
leftward tide which is sweeping the continent. So far, it doesn't
seem Washington has had much luck with this approach which aims at
splitting Brazil from its natural constituency, the process of the
continental integration of Latin America. The rise of indiginous 
and other non-white leaders like Hugo Chavez is giving policymakers
in Washington nightmares. We watch its progress daily on Telesur!)

Posted on Sun, Oct. 30, 2005	
The Oppenheimer Report
Forget the summit -- watch Bush in Brazil

Andres Oppenheimer
aoppenheimer at herald.com

Over the next few days, you will hear a lot about President Bush's
Nov. 3-4 visit to Argentina for a summit of hemispheric leaders,
where he will most likely be greeted with massive anti-American
protests. But the most important part of his trip may be his one-day
stop in Brazil on his way back home.

How come? There is a growing concern in Washington that we may soon
see new radical leftist regimes in South America, and that Brazil --
as the biggest and most powerful democracy in the region -- will be
the only country with enough political and economic weight to contain

U.S. officials are not only worried about a further radicalization of
Venezuela's self-proclaimed socialist President Hugo Chávez, but fear
the rise of an even more radical leftist government in Bolivia
following elections originally scheduled for Dec. 4 but postponed
indefinitely on Friday.

Recent polls in Bolivia show that Congressman Evo Morales, an Indian
coca growers' leader and staunch supporter of Cuba's dictatorship,
could possibly win the elections.

And if he doesn't win, Bolivia experts are forecasting that he is
likely to take his well-organized labor and peasant followers to the
streets, paralyze the country and force a political compromise in
Congress that could land him in the presidential palace. Several
recent Bolivian presidents have fallen because of golpes de calle, or
``street coups.''

Morales told me in a televised interview last year that he wants to
return to ''Indian socialism'' of centuries ago, because ''the
culture of the West is the culture of death.'' He is calling, among
other things, for the nationalization of oil and gas companies
operating in Bolivia -- which would presumably include Brazil's
Petrobras -- and for the legalization of coca.


Many Bolivia experts think it may be only a matter of time until
Morales becomes president. His country has long been ruled by a white
minority, and -- much like South Africa -- will eventually be ruled
by its ethnic majority.

U.S. Bolivia watchers say they can only hope that whoever becomes
president arrives to power democratically, and that -- if that's not
the case -- he will be ''contained'' by Brazil. Petrobras accounts
for nearly 20 percent of Bolivia's economy.

''Brazil wants a stable Bolivia,'' says Eduardo Gamarra, a Bolivia
expert with Florida International University. ``And it wants a stable
Bolivia that will not interrupt the flow of natural gas to Sao

Other endangered South American democracies include Ecuador and
Paraguay. A region-wide poll released Friday by the Latinobarómetro
polling firm shows that only 31 percent of Paraguayans and 51 percent
of Ecuadoreans say they would never support a military government.

In a telephone interview late Friday, I asked the State Department's
new head of hemispheric affairs, Tom Shannon, whether Bush's visit to
Brazil is meant to seek that country's help to put out upcoming fires
in the region.


''I would describe it in a positive way,'' Shannon responded.
``Brazil is a strategic power in the region, and it is an emerging
democratic power, similar to Japan or India, with whom we share a
common set of values. We think there is a lot of opportunity for us
to work together to further both of our national interests, including
the promotion of democracy in the Americas.''

In a separate interview, U.S. Ambassador to Brazil John Danilovich
told me that ``it's in Brazil's interest to maintain and strengthen
democracy and commerce in the hemisphere.''

My conclusion: It may be no coincidence that, over the past 12
months, a record number of Bush administration officials -- including
former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Treasury
Secretary John Snow and, just last week, FBI Director Robert Mueller
-- have visited Brazil.

The conventional wisdom was that they went there -- as will Bush --
to support Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is
facing trouble at home because of a corruption scandal involving his
party. That may be true, but it's only part of the story. Considering
what's coming in South America, the Bush administration may need Lula
more than the other way around.

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