Monday, December 17, 2018

US Wants Latin America to Prioritize Middle Eastern Terrorism

Last week the State Department hosted a ministerial on counterterrorism in the Western Hemisphere. Thirteen countries attended, though two (Brazil and Mexico) were just observers. It was all about Middle Eastern terrorists, the subject that the U.S. government periodically tries to get Latin America interested in. I won't belabor how tired that subject is--something else caught my attention.

The U.S. government's verbiage is that Latin America "joined" and "committed." In other words, they played active roles. Voice of America obediently and vaguely reported "with some analysts suggesting member countries are stepping up efforts" while interviewing one analyst who does not study Latin America and one analyst who writes alarmist stuff on Iran.

In the Latin America press, the verb used over and over to describe the same event was "pedir," which means "to ask" or "to request." Pidió colaboración (Peru) or pide ayuda (Paraguay). There's even a "solicit" (solicitó cooperación from Argentina).

The difference is subtle but noteworthy. South American governments in particular are paying attention, especially to money laundering. But unlike the Trump administration (and the Bush administration before it) they are not putting Middle Eastern terrorism front and center. I could see Jair Bolsonaro doing so just to curry favor but in general there is wide skepticism about U.S. priorities.


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