[News] Bush's Mexican Poodle

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Tue Feb 14 17:30:38 EST 2006


http://www.counterpunch.org/

February 14, 2006

Bush's Mexican Poodle


Vicente Fox vs. Latin America

By JOHN ROSS

Mexico City.

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 
north--south divide.

"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 
<http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1560255781/counterpunchmaga>Murdered 
By Capitalism.


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