Saturday, June 30, 2012

International influence in Paraguay

Mark Weisbrot gets all of this almost exactly wrong. His argument is that all of Latin America sees Fernando Lugo's removal as a threat to the region, but it occurred because of U.S. influence.

The US has lost most of its influence in the vast majority of the Americas over the past decade. It is only a matter of time before even poor countries like Honduras and Paraguay gain their rights to democracy and self-determination.

If you want to blame an international actor, then you would need to point much more at Brazil. The U.S. does not care about Paraguay. U.S.-Paraguayan relations were not strained (for example, see this very complimentary Congressional Research Service report from 2010), and it makes no difference to the U.S. who is in power (remember that there were even periodic flaps with Colorado president Nicanor Duarte). The impeachment and removal had enough of a democratic veneer for the U.S. to ignore it. Unless you believe conspiracy theories about George W. Bush buying land in Paraguay to escape just like Nazis did in Argentina, in which case I can't help you.

But Brazil is a different story. It wields much more clout than the United States in Paraguay, and had the opportunity to act quickly and decisively. Instead, Dilma Rousseff made clear from the beginning that she would wait and see, then ultimately helped insure that Mercosur did not impose sanctions. In other words, in practice her response was not much different from Barack Obama even if her rhetoric was more pro-democracy. The irony is that Weisbrot makes a point about the decreased influence of the U.S., while not seeing the implication that it has led to more Brazilian influence. And the PT is not committed to democracy abroad, so the reduction of U.S. influence does not necessarily mean more democracy.

I understand the natural instinct to look toward Washington, but doing so exclusively means losing sight of critical regional changes. If we want to understand the future of democracy in Latin America, then we need to probe how far Latin American governments are willing to sacrifice to make it work.


Justin Delacour 2:05 AM  

"And the PT is not committed to democracy abroad..."

On what basis do you make such a poorly substantiated claim? Brazil under Lula did more to fight the Honduras coup than perhaps any other country in the hemisphere (as you yourself acknowledged at the time), so it sounds to me like you're cherry-picking here. Perhaps you don't like Brazil's approach to Cuba, but that's not grounds for the sweeping claim you make here.

As for Weisbrot's article, I haven't read it yet, so I won't pass judgement until I've done so.

Justin Delacour 2:28 AM  

"all of this almost exactly wrong"?

How do you figure, Greg? Weisbrot doesn't draw the connection to Paraguay very well (and he imprecisely categorizes the Paraguayan affair as a coup), but most of what he wrote is not even about Paraguay. It's mostly about Honduras.

Now, are you really going to try to claim that no branch of the U.S. government was complicit in protecting the Honduran golpistas? How do you explain the fact that the State Department refused to officially classify the Honduran coup --which was clearly a coup-- as a coup? How do you explain the fact that Hillary Clinton publicly criticized Zelaya throughout the whole debacle in ways that clearly signaled to the Honduran golpistas that they could hold out?

I think the evidence of U.S. government complicity in protecting the Honduran golpistas is pretty overwhelming.

SwampNigger 1:11 AM  

Well, sometimes The obvious cannot and should not Said--lest the weight of hypocrisy bring the whole edifice, the broad mythos, burning to the ground.

I read Oppenhiemer's opinion--and it is dishonest and works to mystify.

Have not read reviewed Wiesbrot's presentation, but I can attest that Justin's analysis is close to the mark.

The US has mercer backed an authentic democratic tendency in the region

leftside 1:42 AM  

Just because Weisbrot cares more about how the US furthers undemocratic actions abroad, rather than Brazil, his analysis is not at all wrong. Honduras was a very important precedent - that removal of a Chavez-ally would be tolerated, if not abetted.

If this was a bunch of lefties in Parliament taking out one of our guys through a 2 hour trial everyone in the US would be crying bloody murder and we would not allow it.

We may not care much about Paraguay, but like Honduras, we care about toppling a pro-Chavez, pro-Cuba socialist government.

I don't read Weisbrot saying the US caused the coup. I see him saying the ground was laid by the Obama Adminstration. They could have taken a stand in Honduras, or here, but we very pointedly did not. Everyone spends more time worrying about non-stories in Venezuela or Cuba than worrying about real undemocratic upheavals in Honduras, Haiti and Paraguay.

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