Sunday, February 18, 2007

Betito Got Snubbed

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales traveled to Argentina recently, presumably to shore up support for US policies. He was the highest ranking member of the administration to do so in 2007, but that didn't seem to matter much to the Argentine government. No high-level member of that government agreed to meet with him. In other words, Mr. Gonzales (and by extension, the government he was representing) got snubbed. Argentina's Diario Jornada Argentina noted the snub in a February 14, 2007 op-ed piece.

Gonzales is the name of the Attorney General of the United States, a Latino who has attained a high rank in the Bush Administration.

Gonzales visited Argentina ... though his visit was not sufficiently covered by the press to incite the usual discussion of relations between our country and the United States. His post gives him the rank of a cabinet minister, so he was the most senior visitor to sent to Argentina by the great power this year.

Gonzales is one of those responsible for the irregular conditions under which prisoners accused of terrorism against the United States are held at Guantánamo. This situation has brought about widespread protest on the international level; the U.S. prison in a strange colonial enclave on the island of Cuba (situated in a place made unforgettable by the poetry of Jose Marti ) has served as a space where prisoners have been denied the most basic rights. In the name of the alleged war against terrorism, the U.S. administration has whittled away at the basic rights of its citizens, as well as those of other countries.

In another famous case, almost 20 CIA agents who participated in the kidnapping of a German citizen of Arabic origin [Khaled el-Masri ] are currently being charged in a German court for a crime committed on European soil.

In repudiation for what his presence signifies given the mistreatment meted out to the prisoners at Guantanamo, Alberto Gonzales was not received by any high-level Argentine official. This decision by our Foreign Ministry shows that we are a sovereign nation rather than a subservient republic begging for favors from the strongest. And it was also to let Gonzales know that our country honors the Geneva Conventions with respect to the treatment of prisoners of war.

Little has been said about this story, and it was a decision that few Argentine governments would have made in the past. But given the bellicose and unilateral behavior that the United States has subjected the world to over the past few years, it was a well-deserved decision.
[Emphasis added]

Argentina has not always been so forthright when it comes to human rights, but the Pinochet years are clearly over. This diplomatic response to the US administration's deplorable behavior suggests that at least some of our neighbors in Latin America have had enough of the shoot'em-up foreign policy of George W. Bush.

What is unfortunate is that our press was so reticent about the story. I doubt many of us were even aware of the Gonzales trip, much less the flap. I suppose Anna Nicole Smith's death was more important.

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