As a post script to my post on the censure of Ozzie Guilllen for his comments on Cuba, I’m posting today stories from The Real News Network and Democracy Now on the isolation of the US and Canada at the just-concluded Summit of the Americas because of their refusal to allow Cuba to participate. As both stories point out, it’s a hypocritical position. The US says Cuba should not be allowed a place at the table because they do not have democratic elections and have a poor record on human rights. The same could be said of China, and yet that nation is our most important trading partner and rival – and lender. Canada’s position is even more hypocritical. They do a full slate of economic business with Cuba, unlike the US, who continues an embargo against the island nation. And there’s the double standard on Honduras, where the US supports a government that seized power by a coup against the democratically elected President Zelaya.
What’s new here is that right wing normally pro-US regimes in Honduras and Columbia, and more centrist governments like Mexico and Brazil, have joined nations on the left like Venezuela and Bolivia in calling for the end of the exclusion of Cuba from these talks, which the US has historically used to rope Latin American countries into following its own agenda. Not only has the US lost control of the dialog on Cuba, but all the countries of the South have also joined together to stand in opposition to the failed policies of the War on Drugs. Opposition was also voiced to the recently passed Columbian Free Trade Agreement and US economic policy that floods Latin American countries with cheap US exports by keeping the dollar artificially low. This puts workers to the south out of work, just as China’s currency manipulations have thrown folks out of work in the US. The President of Brazil recently spoke out on this issue during visit to the White House.
Again, none of this is to romanticize the governments of these countries. Paul Jay of the Real News Network points out many of them are happy to carry on repressing their own people. It’s about creating an open forum for dialog which can address failed policies. Many nations to the south say they will not participate in another Summit of the Americas unless Cuba can participate. An alternative forum has been found that recently convened all the governments of the Americas in Caracas, with the exception of the US and Canada. When even right wing regimes that get millions in US military aid say the embargo on Cuba and the War On Drugs aren’t working, you know that we’re not in the ’80’s anymore. Time for baseball, which rakes in millions off of labor from Latin America, to wake up and smell the (not-so-fair-trade) coffee.