Friday, November 04, 2005

Argentine Protest Turns Violent

Argentines, led by Venezuela's communist president Hugo Chavez, took to the streets to protest President Bush's attendance at the Summit of the Americas. (Newsday: Summit Protests Turn Violent in Argentina). The President, considered by many in the region to be a Monroe Doctrinist, is extremely unpopular in Latin America. Few, if any, US objectives are supported by a region that is quickly slipping into the grips of socialism or communism.

Latin American leaders accuse President Bush of turning his back on them after they turned their back on us in the drive to isolate Iraq. They see the President as an adversary rather than the mejor amigo he professed to be early in his first term. The real issues, however, are monetary and have nothing at all to do with the war in Iraq.

Argentina has a lengthy history of financial mismanagement. Financial crises in that country lead them to request over $25 billion in aid from the US in 2002. Yes, they hate President Bush but they are more than willing to accept our money. Argentine President Nestor Kirchner is currently attempting to negotiate his way out of $100 billion in foreign debt. It seems to me that violent protests over the arrival of our President is not the best way to gain our support in that debt forgiveness.

Also at issue in the Summit is FTAA, a free trade agreement encompassing North, Central, and South America. Not surprisingly, Chavez - a communist - is denouncing the free trade agreement and is seeking a more socialistic vision in the Southern Hemisphere. That he has so much support throughout the impoverished region is disturbing at best. What neither he nor other Latin American leaders seem to realize is that a free trade agreement will benefit them far more than it will benefit us. That agreement would spur an increase in US industry throughout that region, generating job growth there and improving the local economies. Instead, they would rather continue their downward spiral of economic failures and continue their efforts to foist all of the blame for their troubles on Bush.

What it boils down to is the form of aid the US should provide to a region that is growing increasingly hostile. Simply funnelling additional US dollars there is not the answer. That has been done for several decades and the money has simply been squandered by either inept or corrupt (or both) governments and it has done nothing to improve the state of poverty in Latin America. Reform in the region is a requirement before any additional aid can be provided.

As we learned the hard way in the mid-1980's, $30 billion in IMF aid to Argentina did nothing to improve their economic situation, but it did allow Argentine leaders to avoid any reforms that would have lead to an economic turn-around. We cannot continue throwing good money after bad. Faced with our own budget issues at home, one must question why we bother to continue to send money to countries that so openly display their hatred and contempt for the US. It is high time we made it clear that they cannot hate us but love our money. They have to either take the entire package or reject the entire package, but they cannot scorn us any longer while holding out their hands for more money.

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1 comment :

Alan Fraser said...

I agree that aid programs don't typically work and there's no reason to subsidize countries that have no use for the U.S. However, South America has no monopoly on hating the U.S.

Iraq has polarized the world against the U.S. and I really don't know what if anything can be done about it. This is the most disgraceful period of American history and it will not soon be forgotten.

Either the CIA or the White House spun the basis for the war and, unless there's a major housecleaning. American prestige as a leader of nations will be gone for a very long time to come. The only people that have any interest in what the U.S. thinks are suck-up Brits and suck-up Aussies and they're probably only doing it for the money. It is one crying shame what Bush has done to the American reputation.