Thursday, January 22, 2015

U.S. Policy and Conspiracy

Hugo Pérez Hernáiz looks at the conspiratorial angle of Nicolás Maduro's big speech. I brought the speech up today in my U.S.-Latin American Relations class to highlight the complexity of understanding the U.S. role in the region.

On the one hand, the U.S. has been interventionist and paternalistic. On the other, there is a false temptation to conflate hegemony with being all-powerful. The Obama administration (I assume) would be perfectly happy if Maduro were forced out, but that does not mean the U.S. is capable of manipulating oil prices right now to achieve that end.

In other words, the U.S. government has been guilty of so much that it's easy to assume it is responsible for everything, even though it's not. Iran-Contra, for example, was completely crazy but did happen. But that does not mean the U.S. is automatically responsible for everything else.

So I want my students to fully understand how the United States has dealt with Latin America, which is often unpleasant, but also to remain cognizant of what the U.S. doesn't  or can't do. Assuming the United States is responsible for everything necessarily entails assuming that Latin American governments are responsible for nothing.

And that, in sum, is actually what Maduro wants.


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