Obama Re-imposes Neoliberalism in Latin America

President Obama’s chief “accomplishment” in Latin America was not restoring diplomatic ties to Cuba; it was his administration’s “regime change” strategy re-imposing “neoliberal” economic orthodoxy on the region, as Ted Snider explains.

By Ted Snider

Shortly after taking office, President Barack Obama promised to change the way America does business with Latin America, a recognition of the appalling history of interference and regime change dating back to the Nineteenth Century, from Thomas Jefferson’s hostility toward Haiti’s slave rebellion to William McKinley’s betrayal of Cuba after “liberating” it from Spain.

Then, there was the case of Theodore Roosevelt severing Panama from Colombia in 1903 for the purpose of building the Panama Canal. And another case in 1908 when the U.S. government cooperated in the ouster of Venezuelan President Juan Vicente Gómez. And, in 1909, when William Taft removed Nicaragua’s José Santos Zelaya because he insisted that U.S. companies in Nicaragua honor their agreements and tried to make his country less dependent on the U.S. by borrowing from European, not American, banks.

President Barack Obama returning to the White House on Jan. 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama returning to the White House on Jan. 17, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In the modern era, Dwight Eisenhower had the CIA overthrow Guatemala’s Jacobo Arbenz in 1954 and – before leaving office – Eisenhower started the covert action aimed at removing Fidel Castro as Cuba’s leader, a process continued under John Kennedy with the Bay of Pigs invasion and beyond. Then, there was the 1964 coup in Brazil to overthrow Joao Goulart, and the political action to encourage the removal of Guyana’s Chedi Jagan undertaken the same year.

In 1971, Richard Nixon destabilized Chile, encouraging a bloody coup against Salvador Allende. Ronald Reagan sponsored a covert war to oust Nicaragua’s Sandinista government while also throwing U.S. military support behind various brutal and repressive regimes in Central America. In 1989, George H.W. Bush destroyed civilian neighborhoods in Panama City in an invasion to arrest Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega.

And impoverished Haiti periodically showed up on Washington’s radar. With the backing of the Bush-41 and Bush-43 administrations, coup plotters removed Haiti’s popular leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide, twice. George W. Bush also supported a short-lived coup in 2002 to oust Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez. And this is only a partial list of U.S. interventions in its “backyard.”

So, it is important to evaluate Obama’s performance on his promise to change this tragic and shameful history. Yet, it didn’t take long to see that nothing really had changed. It appears that the Obama administration adopted an eight-year-long strategy of rolling back what has been called the Pink Tide of progressive or socialist leaders who dared challenged Washington’s neoliberal economic model for the hemisphere.

The Obama administration favored a more subtle approach to regime change than some predecessors. Unlike the military coups sponsored by earlier administrations, Obama’s coups didn’t require tanks in the streets. Rather, they were disguised as domestic political clashes, starting with civil unrest and media accusations of abuses by the targeted leader, followed by legislatures or courts using impeachment or other “constitutional” means to effect the regime change. These were silent or “soft” coups carried out in democratic disguise.

An early example came on June 28, 2009, when Honduras’ democratically elected and liberal President Manuel Zelaya was accused of plotting a constitutional amendment that would permit more than one term for a president. At the instructions of his political opponents on the Supreme Court, the military seized him at gunpoint and whisked him away in a plane that refueled at a U.S. military base.

That would have been a good moment for Obama to show that he meant business, that he placed democracy and social progress at the center of his regional agenda. Instead, he allowed his State Department to send signals that the U.S. was privately delighted with Zelaya’s ouster.

After the coup, the American ambassador was not recalled; the U.S. refused to join the demand of the United Nation’s General Assembly and the Organization of American States (OAS) for the return of the elected president; and the word “coup” was banned from the State Department’s lexicon. 

Although the OAS refused to recognize the new coup president, the State Department under Secretary Hillary Clinton went in the opposite direction, recognizing the coup government as the winner of controversial new elections. U.S. military support increased, too.

Yet, despite the Obama administration’s linguistic gymnastics in not publicly labeling Zelaya’s removal at gunpoint a coup, Obama’s White House knew that it was a coup. By July 24, 2009, less than a month after the coup, the White House was in receipt of a cable sent from the U.S. embassy in Honduras informing President Obama of the facts.

In an almost comical lack of subtlety that was clearly never meant to be public, the cable is called “Open and Shut: the Case of the Honduran Coup.” In it, the embassy reported, “There is no doubt that the military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired on June 28 in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup.” 

Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

The conclusion could not be clearer. But just in case there were any remaining doubt, the cable added that “none of the . . . arguments [of the coup defenders] has any substantive validity under the Honduran constitution.”

In the most generous interpretation of Obama’s action or inaction, you could say he permitted the coup to succeed by maintaining his silence. More likely, however, his administration was a supportive participant, holding a dialogue with the Honduran military up to the day of the coup and by recognizing the coup government as legitimate soon afterwards. Zelaya has always insisted that “the coup came from the north from the U.S.”

In the heat of the coup, the plane that was carrying the kidnapped president landed at the U.S. military base of Palmerola for 15 to 20 minutes while it refueled. The U.S. chose not to intervene. 

In her memoir, Hard ChoicesClinton admitted that she aided the new leadership by short-circuiting any efforts to restore Zelaya to power. “In the subsequent days [after the coup] I spoke with my counterparts around the hemisphere, including Secretary [Patricia] Espinosa in Mexico. We strategized on a plan to restore order in Honduras and ensure that free and fair elections could be held quickly and legitimately, which would render the question of Zelaya moot,” she wrote.

Ecuador in the Crosshairs

After the coup against Zelaya, Ecuador’s popularly elected president, Rafael Correa, said, “We have intelligence reports that say that after Zelaya, I’m next.” He may have been right. The year after the Honduran coup, there was an attempted coup against Correa. Although the action failed, Latin American expert Mark Weisbrot said it was clearly an attempted coup to overthrow Correa’s government.

Correa had renegotiated oil contracts and demanded a larger share of the big oil companies’ revenue for the people of Ecuador. He also opposed a free trade agreement with the U.S. and closed the U.S. military base in Ecuador. And, he joined Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) and successfully defaulted on over $3 billion of foreign debt that was illegitimately contracted by Ecuadorian leaders who Correa said were CIA-supported dictators.

The U.S. had started action against Correa during George W. Bush’s presidency. An October 2005 embassy cable sent by U.S. Ambassador Linda Jewell outlined action for “desirable political and economic change in Ecuador.” In 2006, she cabled that a Correa election would “derail” U.S. hopes as the embassy expects Correa to join Chavez and other nationalist South American leaders. In the same cable [06QUITO2150], Jewell said that the U.S. has “actively discouraged potential alliances” with Correa. She admitted [06QUITO2991] to “working in concert with other Ecuadorians and groups who share our vision.”

During the Obama years, the U.S. would continue to intervene in Ecuador. In March 2009, Ecuador expelled Mark Sullivan, an American official who was accused of being the CIA station chief in Quito and of playing a role in the suspension of U.S. assistance to a special investigative police unit when Ecuador named a new chief of whom the U.S. didn’t approve.

On Oct. 30, 2010, the attempted coup that Correa had been expecting came. The coup leader was a graduate of the School of the Americas. A government-appointed commission found that “foreign actors” had participated. One of members of the commission announced his belief that the U.S. State Department and the CIA had been involved in the failed attempt to remove Correa from power.

Haiti, Again

In 2010, Obama failed another test when Washington bankrolled the Haitian elections at the cost of $14 million, a price tag that presumably gave America significant say. Yet, Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) banned 14 parties from running, including Fanmi Lavalas, the party of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who had twice been removed in U.S.-backed coups. 

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Haiti’s largest and most popular party, Fanmi Lavalas has won every election that it has been allowed to participate in. But in this U.S.-sponsored election, Fanmi Lavalas was not allowed to compete. In other words, the Obama administration financed the election that specifically excluded the party the people wanted to elect.

The next indicator of Obama’s failing grade came in Paraguay, where in June 2012, Fernando Lugo, the democratically elected leader of Paraguay was removed in a coup. The right-wing opposition opportunistically capitalized on a skirmish over disputed land that left at least 11 people dead to unfairly blame the deaths on President Lugo. It then impeached him after giving him only 24 hours to prepare his defense and only two hours to deliver it.

The Latin American organizations Unasur and Mercosur suspended the new Paraguayan government, but the U.S. government spent the day of the coup negotiating a new military base in Paraguay. As with Honduras, U.S. officials publicly avoided using the word “coup.”

Yet, as early as 2009, a U.S. embassy cable recognized that Lugo’s political opposition has as its goal to “Capitalize on any Lugo missteps” and to “impeach Lugo and assure their own political supremacy.” The cable noted that to achieve this goal, the opposition was willing to “legally” impeach Lugo “even if on spurious grounds,” a so-called “soft coup.”

Focus on Venezuela

The next year, 2013, the focus moved to Venezuela in the wake of Hugo Chavez’s death from cancer. Against the wishes of the United States, Hugo Chavez’s successor, Nicolás Maduro, won the right to continue the Bolivarian Revolution by winning the next national election. The U.S. was the only country in the world to refuse to recognize the election results, though 150 electoral monitors from around the world observed Venezuela’s election, including delegations from the Union of South American Nations and the Carter Center.

The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

The Obama administration’s pressure on Venezuela’s government has been unrelenting. American money – totaling at least $90 million since 2000 – has been pumped into Venezuela to fund groups who oppose the Chavezista movement with the U.S.-backed opposition attempting another coup in 2015, which Maduro blamed on the U.S. government.

Though mocked by the U.S. government and the mainstream U.S. news media, the accusation was not an empty one. Venezuelan officials produced a significant volume of evidence that the events constituted a failed coup that had U.S. support, including a recording of a communique that was to be issued after the Maduro government was removed from power. Maduro’s government has also shown confessions by military officials. And, there was a recorded phone conversation between opposition leaders discussing the coup and involving Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, who is known to have made phone calls to a U.S. phone number.

Lucas Koerner of Venezuelanalysis.com added that the aircraft to be used as part of the failed coup has links to the notorious American security firm Academi (formerly Blackwater). And it has been reported that a number of the coup leaders obtained U.S. visas from the American embassy to facilitate escape should the coup fail.

And, just this past May, President Maduro declared a state of emergency, accusing the U.S. of once again conspiring with right-wing groups in Venezuela to overthrow his government. Maduro said that “Washington is activating measures at the request of Venezuela’s fascist right.”

The Ebbing Pink Tide

The cumulative effect of all this pressure on progressive leaders in Latin America has been a noticeable ebbing of the Pink Tide movement, which had to its credit a significant improvement in the living standards of the region’s poorest citizens, although many of those gains are now being reversed. 

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff addressing the United Nations General Assembly. (UN Photo by Marco Castro)

Brazil’s former President Dilma Rousseff addressing the United Nations General Assembly. (UN Photo by Marco Castro)

Perhaps the sharpest blow to Latin America’s attempts to reduce poverty and structure economies more for the benefit of average people, not the wealthy, came just this year in Brazil when another “soft coup” was organized to remove Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff from office and replace her with a right-wing regime.

Again the evidence of a coup was obvious with opposition parties seizing on a budgetary dispute to overturn the voters’ will in South America’s largest country and biggest economy. The evidence included the publication of a transcript of the call between Romero Jucá, who was a senator at the time of the call, and former oil executive Sergio Machado, discussing “a national pact” to remove Rousseff and install Michel Temer as president. Jucá revealed that not only opposition politicians but members of the military and Supreme Court were in on the conspiracy.

Regarding the military’s role, Jucá says, “I am talking to the generals, the military commanders. They are fine with this, they said they will guarantee it.” And, as for the Supreme Court, Jucá admitted that he “spoke with and secured the involvement of numerous justices on Brazil’s Supreme Court,” according to journalist Glenn Greenwald who is based in Brazil. Jucá further boasted that “there are only a small number” of Supreme Court justices that he had not spoken to. (Jucá has since become planning minister in Temer’s new government.)

So confident was Michel Temer that he had U.S. support for his coup that he was comfortable to openly boast about it in New York in front of an audience of business and foreign policy leaders in September. Temer confirmed to his American audience that Rousseff was removed from power because she refused to implement a pro-business economic plan, which featured cuts to health, education and welfare spending as well as increased emphasis on privatization and deregulation.

Temer said, “many months ago, while I was still vice president, we released a document named ‘A Bridge to the Future’ because we knew it would be impossible for the [Rousseff] government to continue on that course. We suggested that the government should adopt the theses presented in that document called ‘A Bridge to the Future.’ But, as that did not work out, the plan wasn’t adopted and a process was established which culminated with me being installed as president of the republic.”

As Inacio Vieira reported for The Intercept, “Temer’s sales pitch was chock full of standard neoliberal euphemisms and buzzwords, including the ‘universalization of the Brazilian market,’ ‘reestablishing trust,’ ‘extraordinary political stability,’ public-private partnerships, and the implementation of ‘fundamental reforms’ in areas like labor law, social security and public spending.”

And if there was any remaining doubt about the coup government’s motivation – ostensibly its indignation at Rousseff’s fiscal maneuver – there is the fact that one of the coup government’s first acts of legislation was to explicitly legalize the very budgetary act that they had impeached Rousseff for two days earlier.

American Satisfaction

While direct American participation in the Brazilian coup has not been established, Obama’s satisfaction with the coup was clear from his silence over the reversal of one more democratic result, occurring in the most important economic country in Latin America.

President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama

Considering how his administration denounces supposedly undemocratic developments in, say, Russia, Obama’s unwillingness to protest another severe blow to democracy in the Western Hemisphere suggests a happiness with the imposition of a new neo-liberal economic agenda in Brazil.

That is also the conclusion of many analysts close to the Brazilian scene. “There is no doubt that the biggest players in this coup attempt – people like former presidential candidates José Serra and Aécio Neves – are U.S. government allies,” according to Latin American expert Mark Weisbrot.

And Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Professor of Sociology at the University of Coimbra in Portugal and Distinguished Legal Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said Brazil is awash in financing from American sources, including “CIA-related organizations.”

The day after the impeachment vote, Sen. Aloysio Nunes, a significant player in the coup government, began a three-day visit to Washington. Nunes scheduled meetings with, among others, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker and Ben Cardin, as well as with Undersecretary of State and former Ambassador to Brazil Thomas Shannon.

Though Nunes denies it, there were reports that his trip to Washington was ordered by Michel Temer. The willingness to go ahead with the planned meetings with Nunes right after the impeachment vote demonstrated, once again, at least tacit approval on the part of Washington. If the U.S. government wanted to send a message of disapproval, the trip could have been canceled.

The cumulative impact of Obama’s presidency on Latin America has been the steady rollback of the Pink Tide as socially progressive governments around the hemisphere were either removed via “soft coups” or placed under enormous economic pressure, reversing many of the social gains that occurred in the previous decade.

Ironically, progressive Latin American governments made greater strides when Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, was in office because his administration was focused more on the Middle East and the “war on terror.”

So, Obama’s presidency represented less a new page in the history of U.S. relations toward its Latin neighbors than a repeat of old chapters in which the U.S. government teamed up with local oligarchs and right-wing ideologues to create an economic climate favorable to outside investors and the traditional local elites.

Obama’s approach may have been more subtle than that of earlier U.S. presidents – using “soft coups” rather than deploying tanks in the streets – but the effect has been much the same, imposing U.S. economic and political domination over the region and casting aside democratic governments that dared put their people’s interests first.

Ted Snider writes on analyzing patterns in U.S. foreign policy and history.

16 comments for “Obama Re-imposes Neoliberalism in Latin America

  1. Texas Aggie
    October 17, 2016 at 00:01

    Zelaya has always insisted that “the coup came from the north from the U.S.”

    “The reason that there has never been a coup in the US is that there is no US embassy in Washington, DC.” – Latin American proverb

  2. Lois Gagnon
    October 14, 2016 at 19:49

    The US has had an abysmal record on using violence to enrich the business class from the get go and if anything, it’s only gotten worse. The people running this asylum are stark raving batshit crazy. If allowed to continue their plundering murderous rampage across the planet, there will be nothing left living, nuclear annihilation or not. All they know how to do is destroy in the name of profit. Global capitalism is a death cult, but American’s for the most part can’t muster the courage to face it.

  3. Kathleen Lake
    October 14, 2016 at 14:45

    Neolib or Neocon… corporatists are all the same.
    @POTUS @HillaryClinton @SenateDems @HouseDemocrats
    Dear POTUS, Thank you so much for saying covert and perpetual wars might be a problem.
    Now knock it off!
    Saying you can’t envision a future of endless wars, assasinations, flat out murder of noncombatant dissenters in foreign lands, vindictive and illegal drone strikes against anyone who pisses off or thwarts our government’s agenda for the world .. does not absolve you from responsibility. Nor does it convince ANYONE that you intend to stop.
    Afterall … you’re all hot and bothered trying to get us to vote for a war monger and wannabe Marine (hillary) who just loves murdering innocents on foreign soil and threatening us with both a draft and nuclear war with Russia (who have not done ONE thing you have not done.).
    So keep our country (the people) out of your (the government) machinations, clown car world domination plans, territorial squabbles with other countries and your (Hillary’s) petty personality beefs with Russia. And quit lying to us… this is the new America and we are staying woke regardless of the cost or how much you and Hillary would like us to stay “uninformed and compliant”. (Emails). Welcome to America 3.0


    In Hillary’s world… No lives matter.


  4. Joe Tedesky
    October 14, 2016 at 00:01

    I love this country for all it’s people in it, but hey guys & gals when it comes to our nations foreign policies we ain’t the ‘good guys’.

    What I always can’t get over with, is when it comes to our Wall St. CIA sneaky capitalist thuggery is how it all flys under the America public’s radar. Not often are there American boots on the ground in South America, so that works to it’s favor for getting away with stuff. The obvious American boot soldiers our MSM is allowed to announce to the American people, not the Spooks made to look like businessmen and truck drivers who do the real,dirty work. I also see South America to be a great testing ground for new Think Tank coup ideas. What a place to practice on. I have never heard the American media ever report any South American story outside the one our Wall St CIA instigators want us to hear. Reference recently anything Honduras.

    Poppy Bush & Friends years ago had a plan to bring about a One New World Order. The Project for the New American Century was the plan to compliment the NWO Globalization Program. The media plays the largest part of this strategy for world domination, I believe the Saker pegged it at 80%. If the Saker is to be believed, then we listeners of news are well inside this moving plan. Keeping most, if not all of us citizens preoccupied and basically stupid, is rewarding for world hegemony seekers.

    Thanks consortiumnews!

    • Bill Bodden
      October 14, 2016 at 01:03

      Keeping most, if not all of us citizens preoccupied and basically stupid, is rewarding for world hegemony seekers.

      That is what the cable channels are doing just now with constant talk about Trump’s predatory history. Nothing about Syria, Russia or NATO’s eastern flank where World War Three could begin.

      • Joe Tedesky
        October 14, 2016 at 01:38

        The laundry list of important news stories missing while under this current Trump attack is sinfully endless. The biggest mention South America ever got was this summers Olympics, and that Ryan Lochte got arrested somewhere down there.

        I wish the investor class would soon find another way to divid up the last remaining world’s natural resources we have left to exploit, and develop a method for themselves to make a reasonable profit, and do it without war. Outside of us putting a lid on top of our convenient terrorist proxies the rest of the civilized known world would eagerly sit down peacefully, and sort this all out with us given the chance. I reference Putin in almost all his 2015 speeches was reaching out to the U.S. and the West to work together.

        No time for that though, we just allow pundits to chew up our national debate with whatever it is we are suppose to know about the Dirty Donald from thirty years ago. Tell me this wasn’t predictable. So by not getting important other world news, to the mind numbing all the time Trump news, we get No News!

        Next time the Republicans ought to run with Ted Nugent & Hank Williams Jr. (It doesn’t matter which one runs as president or vp…it just doesn’t). I mean what could go wrong with that ticket? The Democrate’s can just pick from whoever it is that there is who should be in jail, and hey we got an American Presidential race.

  5. evelync
    October 13, 2016 at 22:56

    Thank you, Ted Snyder, for your report on this long and troubling history of our failure to honor our “democratic principles” in our own back yard. The violence perpetrated against the people of Central and South America just because we can do it and because certain people profit from it is grotesque.
    I am very interested in this because one of the principal reasons I was unable to support Hillary Clinton is her adherence to Cold War rhetoric and ideology.
    1. Candidate Hillary Clinton’s Cold War rhetoric was evident in her Miami primary debate performance against Bernie Sanders.
    see 1:43:40 in that debate when Bernie is red bated by moderator Salinas, Sanders expresses his disagreement with our actions under the Monroe Doctrine and Clinton jumps back into the red bating to attack Sanders at 1:48:14 and Sanders responds to repeat his disagreement with these policies.
    2. It was shocking to learn about the role Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama played in the illegal coup against Manuel Zelaya.
    The leaked State Dept Report on the coup stating it was illegal was incorporated into the April 2013 Report of the Commission of Truth
    Starting page 59 is the role of the United States including the report by the State Dept. of the illegal coup against Manuel Zelaya.
    The report covers the reactionary actions following the coup that violated human rights and perpetrated violence against women and protesters who Zelaya was starting to recognize as deserving higher wages, birth control, human rights.
    3. It was shocking to read the Guardian reports of Bertha Cacera’s death earlier this year. Cacera had spoken of Clinton’s complicity in the coup.
    4. Zelaya was interviewed on Democracy Now in 2015 and called Clinton an intelligent woman who was also weak and bowed to right wing elements in the State Dept.He said Obama turned a deaf ear to the people of Honduras

    As Americans we are generally not well informed by our government on our foreign policy.It is a closed discussion behind closed doors.
    But in her leaked speeches to Wall Street apparently Clinton was more forthcoming on her fracking initiatives as Secretary of State that benefitted multinational corporations.

    Bernie Sanders as a candidate was starting to speak about a moral-ethical dimension to how we conduct foreign policy. It was a great loss to this country how his campaign was torpedoed by the Democratic establishment.

  6. FobosDeimos
    October 13, 2016 at 22:29

    Well…sometimes progressive governments and parties do all they can to discredit the principles and policies that they were supposed to uphold when gaining power. I have no doubt at all that Dilma was the victim of a conspiracy led by total crooks. But the problem is that the PT under Lula and Dilma increasingly became isolated fron their bases and fell to numerous instances of corruption. Also, the PT always depended on the legislative support of the arch-corrupt PMDB, the party to which Vice President Temer belonged. The PT needed guys like Temer and other feudal lords all across Brazil to keep power. With such a feeble support in Congress, something like this was bound to happen. As for Paraguay, something similar happened. Lugo was highly popular, but he built a very small political party that allied itself with other forces that did not share any of the purposes or policies advanced by Lugo. In the end, as the article says, he was dismissed in an express impeachment, but the problem is that out of 125 congressmen and women ONLY TEN voted against Lugo’s ouster. The fragile coalition that brought Lugo to power disbanded itself in a very short time. Conclusion: the article makes a lot of very valid points, but popular and democratic movements must remain faithful to their proclaimed ideals

  7. backwardsevolution
    October 13, 2016 at 21:25

    “But one of the most pivotal moments of solidarity came in 2012, when Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos—the host of that year’s Summit of the Americas and not a leftist by any sense of the word—called for Cuba to be present at the next summit. Since the Cuban revolution, Cuba had been excluded from the Organization of American States (OAS) and from all of the successive summits.
    The U.S. government immediately renounced this call, refusing to budge on the issue or extending an invitation to the Cuban president. President Obama even went as far as criticizing the Latin American leaders who stood with Cuba as “ignoring the…principle… of [resisting] oppression.”

    The summit ended without a resolution to the ‘Cuba question’ and Obama returned to Washington defiant. But shortly afterwards, many Latin American governments announced that they would boycott the next summit (to be held in 2015 in Panama City) if Cuba’s leaders were not invited.

    It is no coincidence that shortly after the announcement of the boycott, the U.S. and Cuba began to engage in secret talks that culminated in the restoration of diplomatic relations in December of that year.

    At the summit, held four months after the announcement, Cuban President Raul Castro was present—and was the star guest. He gave a forty-nine minute speech (after only being allotted eight minutes, he said he deserved the time for all of the summits he had been excluded from) and gave a detailed history of U.S. imperialism in Cuba—from the Platt Amendment to the invasion attempts to the military base at Guantanamo, U.S. policy was skewered while Obama watched.

    Nearly every head of state praised Cuba, and some went further by criticizing the U.S.; Argentine President Christina Kirchner Fernandez took credit away from the Obama Administration for the diplomacy and praised Cuba for fifty years of resistance. Bolivia’s Evo Morales called on the U.S. government to compensate Cuba for half a century of an inhumane blockade.

    The solidary campaign of resistance worked. The White House even admits that they were pressured into diplomacy: “[the policy of isolation] constrained our ability to influence outcomes throughout the Western Hemisphere.” If the U.S. government wanted to continue to “influence outcomes” in Latin America, at least in this case, it would have to play by the new rules written south of their borders.”


  8. J. D.
    October 13, 2016 at 19:42

    Dilma’s crime was her enthusiastic participation in the BRICS, exemplified by hosting the Forteleza Conference in 2014 when the BRICS Development Bank, now headquartered in Shanghai was created. It and related institutions, such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, have been vigorously opposed by President Obama, who sees them as “rivals” to the London-Wall Street financial financial monopoly.

  9. Sam
    October 13, 2016 at 18:25

    Thank you for this summary. Had the US spent its trillions on wars since WWII on infrastructure, health, and education in Latin America and elsewhere, we would indeed have had an American Century, and would have far better security as well. But the corruption of business bullies in control of our elections and mass media has ruined our security and made us the real enemy of progress everywhere.

    The Ds and Rs are clearly together in the sabotage of civilization and progress for personal gain, both at home and abroad. Getting money out of politics and mass media is the only answer, and it cannot be done because those are the tools of democracy needed. Our best hope is probably reorganization of government due to massive instability following economic collapse.

  10. Bill Bodden
    October 13, 2016 at 18:20

    That would have been a good moment for Obama to show that he meant business, that he placed democracy and social progress at the center of his regional agenda. Instead, he allowed his State Department to send signals that the U.S. was privately delighted with Zelaya’s ouster.

    Instead, he let the Wall Streeters know that their campaign donations were appreciated and he knew how the game was played.

    • Joe Tedesky
      October 14, 2016 at 00:20

      Bill if anyone should attempt to call you deeply cynical with your latest remark here, I will defend you as being brutally honest by a mules mile.

      The real reality is never quite like the reality that gets spun in the news. Obama is a product, and a conduit to getting special interest things done. It doesn’t matter what’s in his heart, because his presidential actions are directed by the money that got him to where he is today…and this just ain’t Obama, it’s everybody in office doing this crap. Yeah, more than likely even your mayor is shoving it down his pockets at the taxpayers expense.

      I’m sorry, all I see is a bunch of political opportunist using the all mighty American tax dollar to enrich themselves, and they’re donors, and the hell with everyone else. Good leadership could begin to confront this culture, but then have you watched the cable news networks coverage of the 2016 presidential race today? Trump put his hand up some woman’s dress, more hacked emails (did you know the Russians are doing this?) of Hillary’s are being released today…..and then I woke up, and I was still here.

  11. Nancy
    October 13, 2016 at 18:11

    Excellent reporting. One of these days, someone is going to smack us a good one.

  12. Bill Bodden
    October 13, 2016 at 16:50

    When they first met, Hugo Chavez gave Obama a fascinating book by Eduardo Galleano: Open Veins of Latin America. If Obama read it, it appears he learned nothing from it to encourage him to end American aggression against Latin America.

    But then, all that pre-election talk about hope and change was just that – talk.

  13. Jay
    October 13, 2016 at 16:17

    And Hillary will be worse if she wins the presidency. We’ve already seen the crap she pulled with Sanders regarding the Sandinistas.

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