International Writers Magazine: US
LATIN LOVE by Dean Borok
One thing I particularly enjoy is reminding people of inconvenient things
that they have done that they would prefer to ignore. Everybody screws
up, but they shrug it off in the interest of "going forward".
The problem with that course of action is, as Churchill astutely observed,
"Those who forget the lessons of history are condemned to repeat
It takes a big man to face up to his mistakes, even if he didnt
commit them. As the old saying goes, the sins of the fathers are visited
upon the sons.
Thats why President Barack Obama was able to sit through a quarter-hour
diatribe by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega at the Organization of
American States conference in Trinidad without batting an eyelash. Everything
Ortega told him was true: how the US unmercifully inflicted unspeakable
horrors on the people of Nicaragua for an interminable period of years,
occupying that country for a quarter century and then, on our way out,
installing a merciless dictator, Somoza, who tortured and slaughtered
its indigenous population for several more decades. When that prick was
eventually overthrown, the U.S. mustered and supplied an equally gruesome
mercenary army of exiles to harass its revolutionary government, which
at the time was led by none other than Ortega!
Obama wasnt responsible for any of this mess, but Ortega rejoiced
that he was finally able to personally deliver his complaint to its source,
and in permitting him to blow off steam, Obama did a service to humanity
by letting him get a load of his mind and clearing the air.
Naturally, the Republican opposition in this country went berserk. They
excoriated the president for not getting up and walking out on the diatribe.
Thats their solution throw your weight around, and if the
natives have the audacity to complain, you swat them off like flies. In
fact, George W. Bush put it exactly in that context. "Im not
here to swat flies", he said right before another bunch of
natives crashed jetliners into the World Trade Center.
Oh, but the Republicans are not finished! Theyre howling about Obama
consenting to shake hands with Venezuelan president-for-life Hugo Chavez,
who exclaimed, "I want to be your friend," and pressing a book
on him. They dont have to worry about Obama reading the book. Obama
is no dummy. He already knows whats in the book:
how the U.S. unmercifully massacred Guatemalas indigenous population
in the interests of that countrys European land-owning elite, staging
a military coup to rid Guatemala of its popular government in 1954 and
igniting a civil war that lasted 50 years, killing hundreds of thousands
of its inhabitants
how the U.S. inflicted a 70-year embargo on Haiti after that countrys
population threw out its French colonial masters in 1802 as a lesson to
our own black slave population
how the U.S. occupied the Dominican Republic over a period of 30 years,
installing a dictator, Trujillo, who dominated the country for another
30 years. And after he was machine-gunned on the steps of the capital,
we went in there again
how we installed Fulgencio Batista in Cuba, who turned that country into
"the whorehouse of the Caribbean", and then punished that country
for overthrowing him by imposing a 50-year embargo that survives to this
how the U.S. installed military dictatorships in Chile, Brazil, Argentina,
Uruguay, Ecuador, El Salvador, Panama, etcetera etcetera etcetera
Yeah, the Monroe Doctrine of 1820 excluded the European powers from interfering
in Latin America, leaving it as a theme park for us to jerk around as
we saw fit, and we made the most of it.
But all good things must come to an end, and now we are on the receiving
end of payback just when we need these countries most. They still
have resources that we need more that ever. Obama put it succinctly. "We
are the most powerful country, but we are not the only one." We need
them as badly as they need us.
Fortunately, all these countries are willing to forgive and forget. But
they still insist on telling us how they feel, which is a good thing.
What if they remained so enraged that they refused to communicate with
us at all? If somebody treated me like that, I would never speak to him
Obama is more than a genius. He is an analytical, feeling human being.
He knows what he has to do as he puts it, listen. Eventually, when
these countries have expressed their historical resentments and antagonisms
and blown off all their steam, we can begin to negotiate on the basis
of our mutual interests.
Unfortunately, the presidents biggest problem is right here at home,
in the form of the Republican opposition and media interests. Theyre
idiots who dont appreciate the tectonic shift that has taken place
in world power relationships. They want to go back to the bad old ways.
Theyre deluded, but theyre still dangerous. And they certainly
have expertise in the area of overthrowing legitimately elected governments.
Fortunately, owing to the previous administrations psychotic fantasies,
the armed forces are displaced in Iraq, half-a-world away. Nevertheless,
with Dick Cheney ensconced in Washington, having set himself as a pole
of reactionary discontent, and knowing his unhinged, anachronistic proclivities,
Obama would do well to consult with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
about her techniques for dodging sniper fire.
© Dean Borok April 23rd 2009
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