Saturday, May 19, 2007

He Should Have Brought A Sweater

John Negroponte, the current Secretary of the Office of Hemispheric Affairs, received a chilly reception in Ecuador. The former Ambassador to Honduras (1981-1985) and more recently, Ambassador to Iraq, is currently making a tour of Latin America plumping for various trade agreements.

After nearly seven years of ignoring this part of the world, the Bush administration has decided it's time to pay attention, primarily because of the rise of populist and anti-American leaders such as Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. While the attention is long over-due, it appears that the administration seems to think that just showing up will get the US its way, and that does not appear to be the case, especially in Ecuador. This article in Ecuador's El Comercio cites multiple reasons for the icy reception provided Mr. Negroponte.

Correa immediately issued a formal welcome to the visitors. His words left a sense that his government would distance itself from certain policies of the White House, which supposedly violates Ecuadorian sovereignty. Without mentioning it directly, the President referred to the friction over the U.S. Southern Command's decision to remove the headquarters for the UNITAS naval exercises from Ecuador. ...

Before the press left the room, the President hinted - while reiterating the interest of his government in extending the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act - that he would express his doubts over the trade and anti-drug policies of the United States. ...

...he said that he didn't understand how it is that despite the fact that his country is the most effective in seizing narcotics, annual U.S. financial aid has dropped from $40 million to $7 million. ...

... [Foreign Minister MarĂ­a Fernanda] Espinosa said she expressed to the visitors that, "Ecuador doesn't agree in the format and contents of the [U.S.-backed] Free Trade Agreement, but we do believe in creating predictable commercial accords of mutual benefit. We are inclined to initiate talks with the United States on this, and by all means, the result will be very different from what the U.S. was negotiating before."

That position represented a rejection of the objective of Negroponte's tour, which is to open channels of dialogue on the subject of trade. This was even more true, when the Correa government announced that it is studying the option of joining the Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean, now comprised of Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua. [The Bolivarian Alternative for Latin America and the Caribbean is a rival trade deal championed by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is a close ally of Ecuadorian President Correa].

The current administration has screwed up the military, national security, the economy, and civil liberties. Its foreign policy has fared no better, especially in Latin America. The days of US hegemony in the region are long gone: previously key partners are no longer having any part of it.

If it didn't affect us so directly, it would be fun to watch.

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Blogger Robert said...

So this is a total non-sequiter, but as a soldier serving in my 2nd tour in Iraq, I just wanted to let y'all know how much I appreciated your "support our troops" post. You have a great blog, and I'm adding it to my daily reads. Keep up the good work, and thank you.

6:35 PM  
Blogger Ruth said...

hi, darlin', I had a friend's son serve in Iraq and he came home totally turned off by what we are doing there. But got educational bennies that he is now using to get a law degree. hey, I hope you are well and no camel spider creeps in under your tent. Please keep in touch.

5:01 AM  

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