Friday, March 16, 2007
America makes progress in latin america
Hurricane George By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY Diplomacy: If there's any question about the success of President Bush's Latin America tour, check out the aftermath: Friends of the U.S. say they're strengthened, while allies of Hugo Chavez are seeing new turmoil. It probably wasn't Bush's intent, but his tour seems to have had the effect of a hurricane. He visited Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico, talking trade and immigration, while Venezuela's dictator went to Argentina, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Jamaica and Haiti, trying to make Bush's visit all about him. But it didn't work. Bush ignored Chavez and did serious business. Now Argentina's opposition has sprung to life, protesting President Nestor Kirchner's accommodation of Chavez at a Buenos Aires rally. Former President Carlos Menem, who probably still has a 40% base of political support, denounced Chavez as 'the poison of Latin America' and blasted Kirchner for being his pawn. In Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva got no fallout for meeting Bush, but the radical faction of his own leftist party drew media criticism for its disruptive anti-U.S. street protests. In Bolivia, politicians from the largest opposition party lashed out at Chavez, demanding that a Cabinet minister explain to the Senate the 'permissiveness' of Chavez's 'intolerable' statements against the Bolivian press. This wasn't just rhetoric; it was political heat. Chavez's ally, President Evo Morales, distanced himself from Chavez by refraining from anti-Bush statements. Back in Venezuela, opposition leaders blasted Chavez for touring the hemisphere while their country remains full of crime. 'Somebody must rule in Venezuela,' said one leader, Antonio Ledesma. Meanwhile, two anti-Bush rallies in front of the U.S. Embassy on Sunday and Monday rapidly fizzled, drawing only a dozen protesters. Chavez cannot draw an anti-Bush rally of any size in Caracas. Chavez is on the defensive too. All of a sudden, he and his ministers are insisting that the anti-Bush junket was only coincidental to Bush's tour. Chavez now denies he insulted Bush, suggesting for the first time that he's under fire for even that. By contrast, Brazil's Lula and President Tabare Vazquez of Uruguay were reportedly ebullient after Bush's visit. The Los Angeles Times reported them as politically strengthened. Brazil got a pact to develop ethanol, and Uruguay got export avenues, substantially boosting their political outlooks. Presidential tours must not be judged by street protests but by results. Bush's tour wasn't just a blessing to friendly countries such as Brazil and Uruguay. It has unexpectedly sent a shot of energy to democratic forces in Chavez's own backyard.