July 31, 2009

Observations from Venezuela: July 31, 2009: by LAP Editor Miguel Tinker Salas

Observations from Venezuela: July 31, 2009 
by Miguel Tinker Salas
LAP Editor 

I would submit that events in Honduras are not isolated, but rather part of a right wing counterattack taking shape in Latin America. I have been arguing for sometime that the right is rebuilding in Latin America, and has decided to act with Obama / Clinton in the White House. Bush / Cheney and company did not give them any coverage and had become of little use to them. A “liberal” in the White House, with extensive ties to the conservative forces gives them the kind of coverage they had hoped for. It is no coincidence that Venezuelan right wing commentators applauded the naming of Clinton to the White House indicating “now we have an ally in a position of power.” The old cold-warrior axiom that the best antidote against the left is a liberal government in Washington gains new meaning under Obama with Clinton at the State Department.
Coup leaders in Honduras and their allies continue to play for time. Washington’s apparent vacillation is allowing them to exhaust this option, but so are Colombia, Mexico, Panama and others. After all, this coup is not just about Honduras but also about left success in Latin America, of which Honduras was the weakest link. It is increasingly becoming obvious that there is no scenario under which they will accept Manuel Zelaya back. I do not think that they have a plan “B” on this matter and this speaks to the kind of advise they are getting from forces in the US and the region. If Zelaya comes back, the Supreme Court, the Congress, the military and the church all-loose credibility and it opens the door for all the social and political movements in Honduras to push for more radical change that these forces would find more difficult to resist.

But Honduras is only part of the equation. Colombia decision to accept at least 3 new US military bases (including Palanquero), which added to the existing “Forward Operating Locations”, will dramatically expand the US role in the country. This is a very troubling sign and speaks volumes about how the Obama administration is responding to change in Latin America. A base on the coast would also offer the recently reactivated US Fourth Fleet, a convenient harbor on the on the South American mainland. In short, Venezuela would be literally encircled.

The recent media war launched by Uribe against Ecuador and Correa once again claiming financing of the FACR and the more recent offensive against Venezuela concerning 30 year old Swedish missiles, that like the Reyes computers cannot be verified have filled the airwaves in Venezuela, Colombia and the region. All we need now is for Colombia to ask the Interpol to verify the missiles origins and Ron Noble to give another press conference in Bogota. Déjà vu all over again.
The right and its allies in the U.S. are also emboldened by the victory in Panama and the very real prospects of electoral victories this year in Chile and even Uruguay. Obviously they are also encouraged by the humiliating defeat of the Rodriguez Kirchern’s in Argentina. These developments could begin to redraw the political map of the region. Bolivia will undoubtedly come under intense pressure as they are also preparing for an election later this year.

All this is occurring with an increased US military commitment in Mexico with Plan Merida which seeks to build on the lessons of Colombia; maintain in power a president whose economic and social policy are highly unpopular but who relies on conflict, in this case the so called-war on the drug lords to maintain popularity. Parts of Mexico are literally under siege including, Michoacán, Ciudad Juarez, and Tijuana. The backdrop for this is a divided left, the PRD was the biggest looser in recent midterm elections and social movements remains localized and unable to mount a national challenge.

None of these developments are forgone conclusions, but rather speak to a concerted counter attack by the right wing in Latin America and its allies in the U.S.

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