[News] Bush's Mexican Poodle
News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 14 17:30:38 EST 2006
February 14, 2006
Bush's Mexican Poodle
Vicente Fox vs. Latin America
By JOHN ROSS
If international diplomacy were a wrestling match, Fox Vs Latin
America would be an apt sub--title for Mexico's foreign relations
imbroglios in 2006. During the five years plus he has been in office,
the Mexican president has taken on the leaders of the Latin American
Left one by one, starting with Fidel Castro, with whom he once broke
off diplomatic relations.
Diplomatic relations with Cuba were once again endangered last week
(Feb 5th) when the Mexican president failed to act after the
U.S.--owned Sheraton Hotel chain canceled the reservations of a
high--powered Cuban delegation in Mexico City to negotiate with Texas
oil companies. The Cubans were kicked out of the swank Sheraton
Isabel under the provisions of the Helms--Burton "trading with the
enemy" act. Although U.S. laws are not applicable in Mexico, Fox
failed to lodge a diplomatic protest with Washington,
Fox's aggressive defense of free trade and the neo--liberal model now
rejected by Latin America often makes it appear that he is carrying
Washington's water. This was most recently displayed at the Mar de
Plata Summit of the Americas in November when the Mexican president
tried to force endorsement of George Bush's beloved Free Trade Area
of the Americas (ALCA in its Spanish acronym), which would extend the
dubious benefits of the North American Free Trade Agreement all the
way to Tierra del Fuego. With Fox on the floor, "we don't have to do
much work ourselves" U.S. undersecretary for Western Hemisphere
Affairs Tom Scanlon told the Argentinean daily Clarin.
Now Fox's latest bete noir is the most recent passenger on the
anti--neo--liberal bandwagon that is sweeping Latin America, Evo
Morales, the continent's first Indian president since Mexico's Benito
Juarez, a Zapotec, in the mid 19th century. But Juarez was a "good"
Indian who defended white and mestizo liberal ideals and held is his
own people in contempt. Evo is a "red" Indian, proud of his
bloodlines and a dangerous socialist who talks bad about ALCA and
globalization, weighs the nationalization of natural gas, and pledges
to stand up to Uncle Sam.
Evo's anti--neo--liberal stance was one reason underlying Fox's
decision not to show up at his investiture in La Paz January 22nd.
Although the Mexican president's press secretary Ruben Aguilar
pretended that his boss had a prior commitment to attend the
inauguration of the new Honduran president, Fox sent foreign minister
Luis Ernesto Derbez to Tegucigalpa in his stead. Meanwhile, the
highest--ranking Mexican official at Evo's swearing in was that
nation's outgoing ambassador.
To make the diplomatic snub crystal clear, just days later, the
Mexican president flew south to Chile to huddle with president--elect
Michelle Bachelet. Mexico and Chile have a bi--lateral trade
agreement and both are outspoken advocates of ALCA.
Fox's no--show in La Paz also avoided another run--in with Venezuelan
strongman Hugo Chavez with whom the Mexican president is feuding.
Chavez, Fidel Castro, and Morales recently announced the formation of
an anti--imperialist front.
By snubbing Bolivia, the Mexican president also expressed its
irritation with Morales for having invited Subcomandante Marcos of
the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) whom Evo had
personally asked to share the platform with him. The EZLN is still
technically at war with the Mexican government.
Despite Evo's urgings, Marcos, who is touring Mexico with "The Other
Campaign"----an anti--electoral, anti--capitalist crusade that is
shadowing the upcoming presidential elections here----told a
predominantly Indian audience in Campeche state that the EZLN was
turning down the invite "because it is not our way to go and talk to
great leaders. We have chosen to come and listen to you instead
because you are never taken into account."
In spite of Marcos's rebuff, Evo Morales borrowed a page from the
Zapatista playbook when he promised the Bolivian people that he would
govern according to the Mayan rebels' ethic of "mandar obedeciendo",
that is, to govern by obeying the will of the people.
But Fox tipped his hand as to the root reason for his rancor at the
new president when he groused to a business group about Bolivia's
refusal to export its natural gas --Bolivia has the second largest
reserves on the continent. "Let them eat (their gas) down there" was
the pull quote. Back in 2002, Fox thought he had struck a deal with
then--president Gonzalo Sanchez de Losada ("Goni") -- Bolivia would
build a pipeline to a Peruvian port, the gas would be liquefied and
pumped onto tankers and sent up the Pacific coast to at least three
LNG terminals to be sited in and around Tijuana, Baja California.
Such energy titans as Chevron, BP, Marathon, Sempra, and Shell were
bidding hig. But Goni's scam to sell Bolivian gas to the
transnationals fell apart when he was deposed in a hectic October
2003 uprising in which Evo Morales and his cocalero federations
played a crucial role.
Fox's feud with Morales comes on the heels of celebrated tiffs with
other luminaries of the Latin Left.
Item --At a 2002 United Nations Development summit in Monterrey, Fox
ordered Fidel Castro to abandon Mexico before George Bush touched
down. Although Fidel complied, he later played an audiotape of his
conversation with the Mexican president that exposed Fox's servility
to the White House.
With then--foreign minister Jorge Castaneda, a public foe of Fidel's,
running the show, relations with Cuba stumbled from one disaster to
the next and in 2004, Fox broke off ties with the rebel island after
accusing a Cuban diplomat of spying on Mexico, a remarkable parroting
of Washington's modus operandi. Months later, Castaneda's
replacement, a red--faced Derbez, withdraw the spying charges but
relations between Fox and Fidel are permanently strained.
Item --Vicente Fox was vexed with Argentinean president Nestor
Kirchner's keynote address at Mar de Plaza which chastised the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund for committing economic
crimes against his country. When the Mexican president leapt to his
feet in the name of "29 Latin American nations" (really just Mexico,
Chile, and Panama) to argue for Bush's ALCA, Kirchner issued a
stinging rebuke, reminding Fox that ALCA was not even on the Summit's agenda.
After the four nation Mercosur plus Venezuela, a bloc that includes
three Latin economic powerhouses, fended off Fox's "29 nation" ALCA
lobby and even eliminated any mention of that beacon of globalization
in the Summit's final declaration, the Mexican president excoriated
Kirchner for having stage managed the fracaso. Vicente Fox further
infuriated his Argentinean host when he badmouthed football idol
Diego Maradona who was among the protestors at Mar de Plata. "For
some Latin American leaders diplomacy is to bow their head and
accommodate (the United States)" the Argentinean lashed out in an
unavoidable reference to Fox.
Item -- Fox's verbal street brawl at Mar de Plata with Comandante
Chavez had been simmering ever since the U.S.--inspired April 2002
foiled coup when the Mexican president's silence was glaringly
obvious. After Fox was thwarted at the Summit, an exuberant Hugo
Chavez fired away with both barrels. Mexico's president was "a puppy
of the imperialists." "It makes me sad that the Mexican people have a
president who kneels down in front of the North Americans" he told
Venezuelan television audiences. The remarks got Fox's dander up once
again and he demanded an immediate apology --"I will never accept
that Chavez can insult the dignity of the Mexican people."
"Don't mess with me or you'll get stung" the Venezuelan macho man
shot back, and threatened --a la Fidel --to release videos shot at
Mar de Plata which graphically showed this "imperial puppy" in
action. Ambassadors were withdrawn within 24 hours and diplomatic
relations will not be normalized until Mexico selects a new president
in July, most probably the left--winger Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador,
who, although he leans more to the Bachelet style, should get things
back on track between Latin America's two most significant oil
producers. Despite the bad vibes between Washington and Caracas,
unlike Mexico, the U.S. has never withdrawn its ambassador from Venezuela.
The northern--most nation in Latin America, Mexico has an historical
identity crisis. Is the Aztec nation the gateway to the south or
merely an appendage of North America? NAFTA, which made Mexico a
geographical part of North America, settled that debate.
But whether attached or not to the U.S., in South America, Mexico has
always been viewed as the Global North and distrusted as a stalking
horse for Washington. Mar de Plata was just one more chapter in the
"Because of your country's economic ties to the United States,
Mexico's marketing of itself as a part of Latin America will never
dispel the suspicions of those nations further south" Carlos Meza,
the former Bolivian president who Evo helped to oust, told the
Mexican diplomatic corps in early January. Fox's invitation to Meza
to address the diplomats was seen as one more slap at Morales.
But if Vicente Fox is really doing Bush's dirty laundry, he has
rarely been rewarded for his demeaning efforts. Even his push to win
the Organization of American States secretariat for Derbez ran
aground when Condi Rice abandoned his candidacy in favor of the
Chilean Jose Luis Insulza. Under Bush, Fox's futile crusade for
immigration reform has turned into anti--immigrant counter--reform
north of the border and Washington's plans to build a border wall is
the latest payback for the Mexican president's loyalty to Bush and
the neo--liberal model.
Fox's blind support of ALCA, even though it will cost Mexico trade
advantages it has enjoyed under NAFTA, is revealing. As a true
believer in the neo--liberal credo, Vicente Fox will apparently work for free.
John Ross is the author of
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