Thursday, July 27, 2006

The U.S. and Chile

The U.S. continues to pressure the Chilean government not to vote for Venezuela in its bid for the UN Security Council—the Defense Minister reported that Rumsfeld made it clear that such a decision “wouldn’t make any sense” (no sería comprensible). This prompted Bachelet to make a speech insisting that her government would not bow to any external pressure. Chilean politics are also involved, because Bachelet’s approval ratings have dropped and she is facing a gas crisis with Argentina, so it was an opportune time for a tough speech.

However, this is another example of our incoherent Latin America policy. The Bush administration claims to want democracy and free trade in the region, and Chile is an example of both. Yet we are punishing Chile, both with regard to the International Criminal Court and Venezuela. Leaning on Bachelet has made it far more difficult for her to vote against Venezuela, because no one wants to be viewed as following orders from Washington. As so often happens, U.S. actions may result in the outcome—Venezuela winning the seat—that it explicitly sought to avoid.

With friends like these, who needs enemies?


Anonymous,  10:53 PM  

The Venezuela/UN Security Council issue is yet another legacy of the current White House administration. I think it is now a foregone conclusion that Venezuela will win the seat. The US has close to zero credibility in the region right now due reasons we don't need to go into detail here. So, when a critical issue comes along, the US may be on the losing end even though most Latin American governments (save Evo and Nestor) certainly do not want to see Chavez amass more power. You think the Brazilians want a strong Chavez? The Chileans? The bottom line is that going against Bush is a winning strategy for any Latin American politician. And the last time I looked, getting votes still prevails over logic in most countries.

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