The Americas: A Whole Continent against the War

From Canada to Chile, Governments along the Hemisphere isolated Bush bellicose approach to Iraq

After yesterday's speech, Bush found the strongest opposition to his plans for Middle East from his closer neighbors. The most relevant hemispheric governments said that they would not support US military adventure in Iraq and that they would have preferred a UN supported peaceful approach to this conflict.

The two Latin American non-permanent seats at the UN Security Council, Chile and Mexico, had anticipated their disagreement on Bush's yesterday's speech at the White House. Chile, in particular had made a proposal last week that could have avoided war in Middle East. However, its ideas were rudely rejected by the US administration before Bush's trip to the Azores' meeting.

President Ricardo Lagos maintains the faith on a peaceful resolution to the conflict, even at risk of breaking off the close commercial ties with USA, analysts say. According to local newspapers Lagos is on the phone at this moment trying to agree a common position with the other non-permanent seats at the Council.

Mexico, the main US trading partner holds a similar position than Chile. On a TV statement two hours after Bush's, President Vicente Fox made clear for the first time, country's approach to the Iraqi crisis. "We share the same values and objectives than USA, UK and Spain. However, we disagree with their procedures and timetables", said Fox. "Mexico insists on a peaceful multilateral way to resolve conflicts and regrets the road to war", concluded firmly the Mexican Head of State.

In turn, the former Mexico's Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda went further and said that thanks to Chile and Mexico, USA could not pass the so-called second resolution to allow the use of force against Iraq. "Without the strong Mexican and Chilean opposition they would have obtained the nine votes", said Castaneda.

Yesterday, the Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien said clearly and loudly: "Canada will play no role on the war against Iraq". Canada's Foreign Office had proposed a 30 days timetable to allow UN inspectors to disarm Saddam peacefully, but was ignored by its southern neighbor.

Mercosur countries also expressed their disagreement with the US administration bellicose position on Iraq and reiterated a strong support to Chile's position at the Security Council. Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva had anticipated last week a negative assertion on a military action in Middle East. Argentina, in turn, had clearly stated its pro-UN approach to the crisis one month ago and evacuated yesterday its 84 military officers in Kuwait. "We do not support any military action against Iraq", said Argentine Foreign Minister Carlos Ruckauf in response to a British enquiry submitted yesterday to Buenos Aires.

Those Latin American countries undoubtedly linked to Bush's administration, Colombia and Peru by case, opted to keep a low profile on this issue. Neither Lima nor Bogota have issued any formal statement until now.

There are many factors lying behind the Americas' objection to Bush. One of this is the strong Vatican opposition to the war. In a Catholic environment, Pope's active rejection on military plans to resolve the crisis had a very relevant influence on people and authorities' views. Also, the Americas have a long tradition of respectful policies towards the United Nations; the lack of interest shown by US diplomats on building up a consensus inside the organism could set a serious precedent looking forward incoming issues like Colombia and Venezuela.

Also, It should not be underestimated Spain's alignment to USA. The Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar is a kind of scarecrow for Latin Americans governments. Many consider him mere simple lobbyist behind Spanish largest corporations' interests in the region and are afraid of a broader alliance with Washington. Economics reasons have to be taken into account, too. Dollar diplomacy did not work out this time. Perhaps, a strengthened Euro also played its role on this.

Hernan Etchaleco PRAVDA.Ru Argentina

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