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Latin America In The Time Of Trump – OpEd

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Introduction

President Trump cancelled his attendance at the Summit of the Americas meeting of all the 35 presidents of the region designed to debate and formulate a common policy. Trump delegated Vice President Pence in his place. VP Pence a known nonentity with zero experience and even less knowledge of Latin America – US relations indicates the Trump regime’s disdain and low opinion of the eighth meeting of the tri-annual Summit.

President Trump does not feel obligated to attend, because the agenda, decisions and outcome already had been decided in accordance with the best interests of the empire. Former Secretary of State Tillerson made clear that Latin America is Washington’s backyard: the Monroe Doctrine was alive and well.

The revival of the Monroe Doctrine is a work in progress – a collective effort that preceded the Trump regime and which is now in full display.

Monroeism is a joint venture involving Washington empire-builders and Latin American oligarchs, congressional coup-makers, presidential narco-swindlers and military-paramilitary thugs. To understand the ascendancy of the two century old
Monroe Doctrine requires we examine the process – the means and methods which installed Trump’s satraps.

Many Roads Common Outcomes

The Twenty-First century began with a series of upheavals which challenged incumbent neo-liberal client states and installed a series of center-left regimes who increased social spending and declared their independence from the US. The progressive politicians wrote premature death certificates for the Monroe Doctrine, as they were co- signed with the local bankers, generals and business oligarchs. In other words, Latin America experienced a series of temporary reforms based on oligarchical foundations.

By the end of a decade and a half , the Trump regime proclaimed the resurrection of Monroeism: puppets, pillage and plunder,became the new order of the day throughout Latin America.Client legislators successfully ploted a series of coups, ousting elected Presidents in Brazil, Paraguay and Honduras replacing them with bona fide US approved satraps.

The Secretary General of the Organization of American (Colonies) States, Luis Almagro a former Foreign Minister of a center-left regime in Uruguay blessed Washington’s mouthpieces.

Rigged elections in Mexico and Guatemala ensured Washington a pair of reliable flunkies.

Death squads and a narco-President Santos in Colombia provided the Pentagon seven military bases and US investers several oil fields.

Swindlers and fraudsters with intimate ties to Wall Street took office in Argentina and Peru. An ex-leftist in Ecuador Lenin Moreno appealed to the people to win an election and ,once taking office worked for the oligarchs.

In other words, through diverse routes which combined rigged elections and political violence, Presidents Bush and Obama set the stage for President Trump to inherit a servile entourage of self-styled democratic. . . satraps.

President Trump need not join the Latin Americas to the Summit. Since the Donald’s scribes wrote the program and policies to be followed.

In the run-up to the Summit, the Latin American Presidents spent their time in office demonstrating their fealty to the Trump version of the up-to-date Monroe Doctrine.
Argentina President Mauricio Macri on taking office paid $6 billion dollar to a Wall Street speculator; contracted a $100 billion debt to US and UK bankers; lowered and/or eliminated corporate taxes, for agro-exporters ; quadrupled charges on gas, electric and water utilities for households and small and medium business; privatized mines and oil fields; fired several thousand public sector medical and educational professionals impoverishing health and educational facilities; extended US military bases across the country ;and welcomed toxic chemical companies to contaminate the countryside.

In exchange Trump overlooked Macri’s swindles and overseas bank accounts and praised his police state measures.

Brazil’s President Michel Temer was installed in the presidency via a congressional coup, promising to privatize the entire public transport, infrastructure, mining, oil, and electrical sector as well as the financial and banking system. Temer and his Congressional and judicial allies ensure that military and diplomatic alliances will serve Washington’s drive to overthrow the Venezuelan, Cuban and Bolivian governments. Temer and his judicial allies have jailed the leading opposition presidential candidate, Lula Da Silva.

Trump’s satraps in the Brazilian military have joined the US in policing the Continent.
In exchange President Temer with 95% popular disapproval and facing jail has secured President Trump’s permission to secure asylum in Miami and membership in his golf club once he is out of office.

Mexican President Peña Neto has privatized the national patrimony – the oil fields, mines and banks. Neto has collaborated with police, military and paramilitary groups murdering dozens of opposition students , critical journalists and human rights workers. Neto allowed drug trafficking , bankers and business leaders to launder billions of dollars in overseas accounts to evade taxes. President Peña Neto has been an active supporter of Washington’s international policies in particular its efforts to isolate and overthrow the Venezuelan government.

Because of Peña Neto’s subservience to Washington, President Trump has demanded further concessions including US control of the Mexican border, immigration and internal policing.

Colombia under Presidents Uribe and Santos provided the US with seven military bases. President Santos signed a peace agreement with the FARC, and proceeded to disarm and murder over 50 former FARC guerrillas and has ordered the jailing and extradition of one of their leader, Jesús Santrich.

President Santos signed off on lucrative oil concessions with US and other multi- nationals.

Newly elected Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno followed Brazilian , Mexican, Peruvian, Argentine and Chilean presidents in handing over strategic natural resources to US multi-nationals.

All of these political clients supported US efforts to exclude Venezuelan President Maduro from the Summit of the Americas for opposing coups,Trump and the Monroe Doctrine.

The oligarchs back Washington’s efforts to de-legitimize the Venezuelan elections in May 2018 and to paralyze its economy in order to overthrow the elected president.

The Triumph of Neo-Monroeism

President Trump presides over the Americas with the exception of Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia. Washington successfully orchestrated the conversion of Latin America into a major political, military and diplomatic launch-pad for US global domination.

None of the regimes have any legitimacy. They all came to power through illicit means – their elections fueled by corruption, force, violence and US complicity.

The Americas receive 42% of US manufacturing exports, (mostly to Mexico and Canada) and is a major US market for arms and toxic agro-chemicals. However, Washington is losing its economic competition with China in the rest of Latin America – and as a result, Trump is attempting to pressure its clients to reduce their ties, accusing China of being ‘imperialist’. Latin America’s rulers, however, want to serve both powers the US politically and China economically.

Conclusion

President Trump has embraced the Monroe Doctrine in his pursuit of dominance of Latin America. Washington takes for granted the oligarchs submission and makes no pretense of consultation: it simply dictates policies via US emissaries.

Under President Trump’s tutelage, the Latin American subjects negotiate the terms of their surrender of sovereignty in order to secure a share of the economic pillage for their oligarchs and US military protection.

President Trump is particularly proud that US dominance is virtually free of cost and effort. The Latin oligarchs do not demand any economic or military aid: the clients pay for policing the empire, contracting neo-liberal economists to hand over their public patrimony.

Latin American clients mouth speeches which echo Trump’s interventionist policies.
Latin American oligarchs ignore President Trump’s domestic crises and political instability as well as his nuclear war threat to Syria and sanctions against Russia.
In one area the Latin American oligarchy does not follow Washington’s orders: they refuse to boycott China . Argentina, Chile, Peru and Brazil’s major exports of agro- mineral commodities. depend on Beijing –which has also become a principle source of loans and foreign investments.

Washington has secured political dominance (or ‘hegemony’ as some polite pundits call it) but it wants more!

President Trump demands a joint military force to overthrow the Venezuelan government and the installation of a client regime. Trump can count on OAS boss Luis Almagro to provide the rhetoric but his clients need the military to prop up their own rule.

President Trump tells his Latin American clients to isolate and lessen ties to China. However, they fear fueling domestic elite opposition. At most Washington can count on their clients in Honduras, Paraguay and Argentina to follow Trump’s lead.

Trump has secured Peña Neto’s agreement to revise NAFTA in order to increase US trade advantages , to allow the US greater control over the border and to increase the flow of laundered money through US banks. Mexico assumes the costs of collaborating with the Trump regime.

So far the Trump regime has had a free ride running the Latin American provinces of the empire on the cheap!. So much so, that Trump has ignored his clients and relegated them to Washington’s backyard. Trump , Wall Street and Pentagon supporters are reasonably content with how he runs the Americas: they are reaping high-interest loans and pay backs; grabbing thousands of public enterprises at bargain basement prices; cost-free military bases including ports and airbases; and they have control over pliable client generals at their beck and call.

What and who can spoil Trump’s imperial party in Latin America?

Venezuela holds elections.. President Maduro wins, defeats coup plots and proceeds to diversify the economy and markets, lowers inflation and begins an economic recovery.
Cuba renews its revolutionary program and leadership; democratizes its economy and socializes its political system.

Brazilian trade unions and social movements organize general strikes, paralyze the economy, free Lula  He is re-elected to advance the struggle far beyond the crooked courts and corrupt electoral system.

Argentina explodes; trade unions, the unemployed and the dispossessed unleash general strikes and face-off against the police; they take over the Presidential palace and President Macri flees overseas; stopping off in Panama and the Bahamas to cash in his illicit holdings.

Mexico has a free and democratic election and AMLO wins, takes office and ends corruption. Trump pays for the wall.

Paraguay, Honduras and Colombia persist – death squads flourish, forcing pacified guerrillas to return to the struggle and peasants to occupy plantations.

The US mass media claim its all a Russian plot. Putin is accused of being behind the low beef prices in Buenos Aires and the flight of capital from Sao Paulo.

The US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley claims Bashar Assad is organizing Arab border conflicts between Bolivia and Chile, narco traffickers in Paraguay and plotting corruption in Brazil.

Trump tweets: populists resistance is all ‘fake news’ and fake plots. He denounces Latin oligarchs opposing his trade war as supporters of Chinese imperialism. He praises our own oligarchs since they are only crooks signing business deals!

Trump organizes a barbecue for his backyard oligarchs. Only money launderers are invited.


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James Petras

James Petras

James Petras is the author of more than 62 books published in 29 languages, and over 600 articles in professional journals, including the American Sociological Review, British Journal of Sociology, Social Research, and Journal of Peasant Studies. He has published over 2000 articles in nonprofessional journals such as the New York Times, the Guardian, the Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, New Left Review, Partisan Review, TempsModerne, Le Monde Diplomatique, and his commentary is widely carried on the internet. For more of his writings, check out the The James Petras Website.

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