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Putin and Hu visit Hugo Chávez; Barack Obama to visit Gloria Estefan
The position of the United States in the Honduran conflict was abominable. The opening of new U.S. military bases in Colombia has been simply provocative. The threat of opening more such bases brings to mind the Monroe doctrine of the nineteenth century. In terms of this new century, the presidency of Barack Obama in relation to Latin America has been worse than that of President George W. Bush.
As I write this, the Prime Minister of Russia, Vladimir Putin just completed a visit to Venezuela. Russia and Venezuela entered into new agreements on multiple levels. Although the international press will focus on military equipment that Venezuela has purchased and will purchase from Russia, 31 agreements were signed in a variety of areas. These include automobiles, an airplane that carries water to fight forest fires, and new ships that will carry petroleum from Venezuela to other parts of the world.
It would be nice if the United States would be involved in such negotiations. It could help its economy. Why isn’t it? One reason is because Venezuela bought F-16 fighter jets from the U.S. many years ago. Now, however, the U.S. won’t sell replacement parts for them. Who would want to stay involved in negotiations with that kind of partner relationship!
In their longstanding allegiance and love for the United States, the Venezuelan opposition likes to talk about how Venezuela is isolating itself from the international community. What is really happening is that the United States is trying to isolate it. Its media success in the U.S., Western Europe, Colombia, and a few other countries has to be recognized. But the reality is that the United States is gradually isolating itself from most of the rest of the world.
In the next few weeks, the president of the immense country of China, Hu Jintao, will be coming to Venezuela to meet with President Chávez. Before that, the president of the small country of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, will be coming here.
But in the United States, on April 15, President Barack Obama will be going to what appears to be the new sovereign country of Florida to have cocktails with Gloria Estefan in her Miami Beach home. Gloria was born in Cuba and has an insatiable hatred for the government of that tiny Caribbean island. As reported by the Miami Herald, she and her husband are going to host a cocktail reception for President Obama. The cost? Only $30,400 per couple.
While many see the U.S. Empire starting to crumble, President Obama is going to meet with Gloria. What’s behind this friendship with Gloria and her husband? Apparently, it seems that Obama likes her singing as well as Estefan’s song about Cuba. She has already performed at the White House and he had no problem meeting with her husband there. He even granted Gloria the right to an interview on a Hispanic television station in the United States, Univision.
Thus, while 187 nations voted in the United Nations in October against the U.S. blockade of Cuba (only the U.S., Israel, and Palau voted for continuing it), President Obama courts the friendship of the ex-Cuban wealthy in Miami. Meanwhile world leaders such as Putin, Hu, Mujica, and others visit Hugo Chávez, who speaks for the non-wealthy in Latin America.
I don’t know if Ms. Estefan and President Obama refer to each other as “Gloria” and “Barack,” but I did hear Prime Minister Putin and President Chávez refer to each other as “Vladimir” and “Hugo.” It would be nice to hear someday on Venezuelan television, “Barack” and “Hugo.” But I am losing hope. The President Obama of Trinidad just doesn’t seem to be the President Obama of today.
In February, presidents of Latin American countries met in Cancun, Mexico, and decided to form a new Latin American and Caribbean organization without the United States and Canada as members. I wonder if Gloria Estefan and President Obama will decide to form a new North American organization without the Latin American and Caribbean countries. It could be composed of only three nations: the United States, Canada, and Florida.
by Charles Hardy ©
Charles Hardy is author of Cowboy in Caracas: A North American’s Memoir of Venezuela’s Democratic Revolution, published by Curbstone Press. Other essays by Hardy can be found on his personal blog Cowboyincaracas.com. You may write him at email@example.com.