Washington still plays Cold War games in Latin America

The US State Department issued a statement in which it accuses Cuba and Venezuela of being a potential danger to democracy in the region. The message comes only one week before a hemispheric meeting in Mexico.

Washington issued a kind of warning to Cuba and Venezuela on Monday, as accused both Governments of being a potential danger to democracy in Latin America. “Venezuela's neighbors are bothered by close ties between the Venezuelan and Cuban governments and their potential dangers to democracy”, said US State Department spokesman Adam Ereli, who also said Cuba remains an antidemocratic force in the region.

Ereli criticized any action that "might impede free and fair democratic processes" in the hemisphere and said Cuba has a long history of attempting to undermine elected governments in the region. "For that reason the close ties between the government of Venezuela and the government of Cuba raise concerns among Venezuela's democratic neighbors," Ereli said.

Ereli’s words are quite interesting as said Cuba “has a long history of attempting to undermine elected governments in the region”. According to unclassified US State Department documents, Washington plotted the coup that toppled the democratic, constitutional and legal government of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973, and fueled Argentine military to oust the legally elected administration of Maria Estela Martinez de Peron in Argentina, less than three years later. Mr. Ereli should also look into those files. 

Moreover, as early as in 1954, Washington sponsored a military coup in Guatemala. One year later supported the military after overthrowing Peron’s ruling in Argentina. All along the eighties supported all sort of bloody dictatorships in Central America, as invaded Panama in 1989. The death toll of the US intervention in Latin America should be in the region of 500.000 casualties, taking into account thousands of deaths in Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia in the seventies and Central America in the eighties.

However, lack of memory makes US hawks to say Cuba and Venezuela are working together to oppose pro-American, democratic governments in the region with money, political indoctrination and training. PRAVDA.Ru correspondent in Buenos Aires is in position to confirm that neither Venezuela nor Cuba are financing such activities neither in Argentina nor in Uruguay, as doubts something similar may happen in other South American nations.

In Caracas on Monday, Tarek William Saab, head of Venezuela's congressional foreign relations commission and a supporter of President Hugo Chavez, assailed an Associated Press story that recounted U.S. worries about Chavez's activities. Saab accused the U.S. government of "using slander and defamation to weaken a constitutional government like ours." "It's false and irresponsible and cowardly," Saab said.

Aside from his ties to Cuba, Chavez's US officials have increasingly questioned democratic spirit of Chavez, as his political foes are trying to depose him through a recall election. Both President Bush and Chavez are expected at a hemispheric summit meeting Jan. 12-13 in Mexico.

However, as principal US administration goal for the hemisphere is to conclude a free trade agreement to extend from Alaska to Argentina by early 2005, it makes sense that Washington insists in its attacks to Venezuela and Cuba. As for the Caribbean Island, it has been already excluded from the negotiations. Unfortunately for Washington they cannot do the same with Venezuela as Chavez administration is absolutely legal and constitutional. Aside from the political considerations, Venezuela is a key nation for the Agreement, as it is hemisphere’s largest –by far- oil exporter. Cuba, in turn, is as big for the Caribbean market, as Brazil is for South America.

In response to Washington accusations, Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said his government has never allowed Colombian rebels to use Venezuelan territory, as also rejected allegations by U.S. officials of Venezuelan support for backers of an uprising in Bolivia that deposed the country's pro-U.S. president, Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada, last October.  

Hernan Etchaleco

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Author`s name Andrey Mikhailov