Sunday, November 02, 2014

Cristina, Nancy, Dilma and the state of US-Latin American relations

Argentine President Cristina Fernández sent a mildly cheeky letter to President Obama, asking about Nancy Soderberg, who he just appointed Chair of the Public Interest Declassification Board (PIDB).

Cristina asked if she's the same Nancy Soderberg that is a Co-Chair of the American Task Force Argentina, which appears to be a front group for the vulture funds that have been unsuccessfully trying to drive Argentina into a debt default. From the sidebar on the website, they also produce John Birch Society-like advertisements against Cristina herself. She ends the letter to Obama, "Could this be a case of namesakes?" Of course, the Argentines know it's the same person.

Nicolás Lantos reports more on Cristina's government's position in “Resultaría inadmisible que fuera la misma persona” Página/12 01.11.2014.

They are arguing that by appointing a co-chair of a rightwing lobby group that makes crass propaganda against Argentina to an official US government position, the Obama Administration is endorsing the group's activities. He mentions as an example this propaganda blog post from the ATFA's website, Argentina: "The New Narco State".

Not so far under the surface is a real concern on the part of the Argentine government that the US is playing "regime change" games on behalf of the vulture funds and more generally on the part of corporate interests who see opportunity in putting Argentina back onto the neoliberal rules that led to the Argentine economic disaster and political upheaval of 2001.

Colombia journalist Andrés Cala writes in Is Latin America’s ‘Pink Tide’ Ebbing? Consortium News 10/27/2014:

Unlike some other Latin countries, Venezuela and Argentina have demonstrated more resentment toward U.S. economic and political pressure although acknowledging the need for foreign investment and implementing urgent reforms to their economies. The governments in Caracas and Buenos Aires also are the primary targets of Washington’s hostility, along with Cuba and Nicaragua.

Thus, Venezuela and Argentina may have the least time to make adjustments and soften their radicalism or face the possibility of Washington-encouraged destabilization and “regime change.” Still, Venezuela and Argentina hope to sustain their revolutions by applying the wealth from their natural resources.

Argentina will hold an election in 2015, and anti-government forces in Venezuela have sought a recall referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro, who otherwise is elected to serve until 2019.
That means there could be some major international interference in Argentina's 2015 Presidential election.

And it's worth watching both Argentina and Venezuela for signs of US-instigated "regime change," whether by peaceful or other means.

The re-election victory last week by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her Workers Party maintaining a majority in both houses of Congress is extremely important. Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America and obviously a heavy-hitter in Latin American economic and political affairs. The maintenance of Dilma's left-reform government there is an important benefit to pro-democracy parties like Cristina's Peronist Partido Justicialista in Argentina that also oppose the neoliberal and highly destructive "Washington Consensus."

Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is still a force in the Workers Party and may even run for a third term as President in four years, is calling for greater economic cooperation among Latin American countries, possibly leading to an association along the lines of the European Union. (Lula llama a reforzar el eje Sur-Sur Página/12 02.11.2014)

If they do that, the certainly should take the lessons of Argentina's experience of having its peso linked to the US dollar and the experience of the actual European Union and take full account of what a common currency zone really is and the problems it imposes.

Lula's strategy looks to build on the existing foundation of the Mercosur and UNASUR blocs, with the goal of establishing greater independence from the US and the EU. Eventually establishing a common currency is already a goal of UNASUR.

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