Monday, June 11, 2007

Jun 11/07 | Principles Under the Boot: The OAS Acquires Another Black Spot

Cartoon From The Economist, Comment below from PMB
This is what Lula calls DEMOCRATIC. I wonder how he defines CORRUPTION

: Below you will find the relevant ( i.e. Venezuela, RCTV, OAS) extract from an extensive interview Secretary Rice granted last week to the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal. The highly principled - although unsuccessful - stance taken by the US in the OAS General Assembly is well explained and should shame (if shame is possible) the silence of the governments of Canada (Is Mr. Harper seeking new influence in the region? Where else could they?), Mexico (Calderon scared of Cuba meddling in internal affairs?), Colombia (Uribe too self-centered to understand the real challenges posed by Chávez?), Brazil (Lula, his PT and friends too fat and happy with corrupt Bolivarian contracts?), Argentina (too weird a couple trying to cling on to power?), Peru (Alan Garcia is still Alan Garcia) and Chile (What can one say about Ms. Bachelet - the political neophyte - who actually looks back with nostalgia to her happy days in "Democratic" East Germany?). I do not mention others because they are either too small or too bought to be expected to do anything or even matter. It was noticeable that El Salvador took a very vocal stance which probably reflected the stance of others in Central America (excluding that freak of politics called Daniel Ortega), and that Uruguay, led by a true 21st century socialist President, made the strongest possible statement naming the crime but not yet ready - or politically able - to name the victim or the criminal.

For the OAS Panama will be another black spot in its dalmatian existence. All too often the organization "excels" as a club of governments intent on self preservation; an elitist gathering of bureaucrats that thrive in a "you scratch my back and I scratch your back" microcosm. How can we forget its silence during the days of right wing military hegemony in the southern cone? And how can those same countries' forget it today when Venezuela's democracy withers under the pestilent boot of another militaristic regime? That my friends is the OAS - expect something from it at your own peril!

The millions of people that are forgotten time and time again by these cushy "civil" servants are only used to illustrate the numerous brochures which are printed in all gloss to justify a huge budget provided - 74% of it at least- by the country all seek and are eager to chastise.

The time for the OAS has long come and long gone. If it still stands in its august location it is because international organizations are particularly difficult to reform or extinguish. It is also safe to restate that it's much heralded Democratic Charter was signed in a moment of reckless naiveté. It would not be considered, discussed, signed and much less invoked today. So scratch September 11, 2001 as a worthy date in the history of the Inter American system. That day will always be remembered simply as the day terror shocked the globe. Whatever document was coincidentally signed in Lima, Peru that fateful day will live on in the collective memory of most of its signatories as a bad idea gone terribly wrong - unworthy of recognition and much less of celebration. While it is a pity that it all ended here, it is better to call a spade a spade and eliminate that cumbersome pretense from the agendas and the minds of such sorry bunch of "democratic" leaders. PMB

Note: for the rest of Dr. Rice's extensive interview go to this link.

Extract: Interview | Secretary Rice with the Editorial Board of the WSJ, New York, June 8th, 2007


QUESTION: Can you talk a little bit about your trip to Panama?

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, it was great and I was really glad that I went to the OAS because I think the OAS has come a long way already. And I actually think that Jose Miguel has done a pretty good job on a lot of things, on Haiti and a number of issues he's done a very good job. I thought it was especially important in light of RCTV to go to Panama to the OAS and to give voice to what I think a lot of people around that table were -- wanted to say, but for a variety of reasons it's harder for them to say. I thought it was important, if the Inter-American Democratic Charter is going to mean anything, then a situation like RCTV then Article 18 of that charter which calls for the Secretary General to look into disruptions of democracy in member states, if you're not going to evoke it then, I don't know when you'd evoke it. And even if the Venezuelans said no, I think it was important to evoke it.

And I was not -- I thought I was actually very restrained in my initial comments about Venezuela in my remarks. But then when the Venezuelan representative decided to make this an opportunity to question whether or not our policies on Guantanamo and immigration and human rights were like those of Nazi Germany, I thought it was important to respond again to that. And I reminded him that, while none of what he was saying was true, was this an issue of American policy, but that he could hear and Americans could hear on CNN, ABC, CBS, any news channel, criticisms, debate, even unfounded criticism of Administration policy any given night. And that that was the assurance that Americans had and that Americans knew that their government couldn't shut down those stations for saying those things. And that that was the issue because the Venezuelan Government had shut down a TV station for saying those things.

I think it has had a deleterious effect on the Chavez government, both inside Venezuela and across the world, because you can't ignore this one. You know, I was in Spain and this got people's attention. It got people's attention in the European parliament. And I just thought it was extremely important to go and do that. But the OAS was about energy and it was also nice to go talk about our biofuels agreement with Brazil and so forth, but this was a time to --

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that?


QUESTION: Isn't the OAS supposed to, you know, all the voices around the table, not just yours, supposed to say something about this, the way that there were complaints against Alejandro Toledo when he had for a third term for or you know, if we had another 1988 plebiscite deciding whether Pinochet should stay in power. You know, we had the same rules that we used for the 2004 referendum in Venezuela. But those countries would have said something, but now they don't and it's entirely the U.S.'s responsibility. I don't see how you can say the OAS is working.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it wasn't entirely our responsibility and Insulza said something at the time that it happened, not at the conference -- not at the General Assembly, but he talked about his concerns several days before we got there and there were others who spoke. And -- but look, Chavez is someone who tries to intimidate smaller states. And I think some of them have been quite brave in speaking out about him. He's cost several of allies elections and, unfortunately, he's ruining a very fine country in Venezuela. But he can't intimidate the United States in any fashion. And so I don't mind giving voice to what was being said. And the Venezuelan representative -- you know, everybody recognized what he was doing and I don't think it served him very well with this case.

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