Saturday, July 02, 2005

Jul 2/05 - On a visit to Crawford with plus and minuses

PMBComment: I thought I would share my two cents on Uribe@Crawford.TX. Unless I am missing something that has not yet been announced, the August 4th get together between “W” and President Uribe of Colombia at Bush’s Texas ranch will do little to pull the US off the shoddy course it has charted for its Latin America policy. Worse yet, it will do nothing to improve Colombia’s chances of gaining support or solidarity from its neighbors who correctly will assume - once again - that Colombia’s perennial predicament is basically a US’s repair job. Even though Luis Alberto Moreno – without any doubt, one of the most effectual foreign Ambassadors ever to serve in Washington - gloats about the significance of this invitation (see press note below), I am of the opinion that there are many reasons to be less bullish and much more cautious. Here is just a short list:

  1. Invitation reflects overemphasis/obsession on drugs and terrorism vs. poverty and economic development.
  2. Uribe reconfirmed as main US ally, OR as others will see it, as the US’s favorite lapdog? Chavez & Co. will relish – and gain from this love fest!
  3. Uribe visibly closer to the nerve center of the US power structure, BUT FURTHER isolated from both his peers and the collective psychology prevailing in the region. This divergence turns Uribe into a fixture of US domestic policy BUT also a semi-pariah in Latin America.
  4. US taking too obvious a side on reelection debate in Colombia. Uribe might deserve the chance to opt for another term, but the US should keep its fingers crossed not soak its hands in that puddle.
  5. Further exasperation of the awkward Chavez-Uribe relationship, which is fine if Uribe is ready to take a principled stance on the subject, but completely counterproductive if he intends to continue with his bizarre “one step forward-one step backwards” dance routine with a man that can wait to get rid of him.
  6. US-Venezuela antagonism notched up…good or bad depending on ultimate plan.
  7. Crawford further established as place where allies come to receive their marching orders…great for conspiracy buffs, not great for the guests (anyone read the Downing Street memos?)
  8. It would have been great if Uribe, Lagos, Berger and Lionel Fernandez, for example, guys who are fighting to improve the opportunities of their people met together in Crawford or Camp David with Bush. Weeks later another group could be invited to do the same, and so on. If the G8 is important for the world, for the America’s an A6, A7 or A10 is badly needed now! 1-on-1 meetings are not good for Latin President’s egos (invited and excluded alike).

This list could go on and on, but you get my drift and I did mean two cents worth. Admittedly, I could be missing the point of a farsighted well thought out strategy, but maybe not, this could very well be a half baked summer plan. PMB

Posted on Fri, Jul. 01, 2005

Bush invita a Uribe a su rancho de Texas

Agence France Presse


El presidente de Estados Unidos George W. Bush, y el mandatario colombiano Alvaro Uribe, se reunirán el próximo 4 de agosto en Crawford, Texas, confirmó ayer a periodistas el embajador en Washington, Luis Alberto Moreno.

Moreno señaló que Bush invitó a Uribe a su hacienda de Crawford, en un gesto de amistad que ha tenido con pocos jefes de Estado.

''La verdad es que es un tema de amistad del presidente Bush al presidente Uribe, a quien el mandatario norteamericano considera como uno de los grandes líderes del mundo, como se lo he oído decir en un par de ocasiones'', precisó el embajador a la radio Caracol de Bogotá.

''Agosto es un mes de vacaciones en Estados Unidos y el presidente Bush traslada su trabajo y su oficina a su rancho de Texas, y allí tiene diversas reuniones, y creo que el primer encuentro que tendrá con líder mundial alguno será precisamente con el Presidente de los colombianos'' este año, explicó Moreno.

Según el diplomático ``se trata de una muestra más de la importancia que Estados Unidos le da a Colombia y ratifica la condición de ser su primer aliado en la región''.

Por su parte, el diario El Tiempo de Bogotá, recordó al respecto que la invitación ``es un privilegio que sólo han tenido hombres muy cercanos o de mayor importancia estratégica para Estados Unidos''.

Y agregó que ``para nadie es un secreto el renovado interés estratégico que ha tomado Colombia para Estados Unidos, por tratarse de un aliado firme en un vecindario que ha mostrado síntomas de autonomía frente a Washington''.

Sin embargo, el diario anotó que una fuente del gobierno estadounidense aseguró que la invitación era más un gesto de amistad. ``Esto lo ha hecho con muy pocos líderes del mundo y lo hace con Uribe más por amistad''.

El Tiempo indicó que el encuentro Bush-Uribe coincidirá con una importante reunión de empresas petroleras en Houston que estará incluida en la agenda del presidente colombiano.

En la actual agenda colombo-estadounidense aparecen importantes temas como el apoyo a la política de seguridad democrática de Uribe, las negociaciones del Tratado de Libre Comercio (TLC) y la lucha antidrogas.