Latin America Rejects Bush Doctrine

With Colombia's illegal military incursion on March 1 into Ecuador, US imperialism once again raised the ante in its struggle to undermine the growing process of Latin American integration. However, the response to Colombia’s attack could mark an important realignment — assisting the process of regional unity.

Reeling from the blow that it received in the aftermath of the Colombian
military’s illegal incursion on March 1 into Ecuador — which resulted in the
brutal massacre of a number of civilians and members of the Revolutionary Armed
Forces of Colombia (FARC), including its chief negotiator Raul Reyes — US
imperialism has once again raised the ante in its struggle to undermine the
growing process of Latin American integration.

Venezuela’s Bolivarian
revolution, led by President Hugo Chavez whose government is spearheading the push
to unite Latin American nations to counter US domination, is being specifically

“The region is facing an increasingly stark choice: to quietly accept the
vision of the terrorists and the demagogues, or to actively support democratic
leaders”, US President George Bush stated on March 12. Bush said his government
was studying whether or not Venezuela should be added to its list of countries
that “sponsor terrorism”.

In Washington’s Orwellian world view — where war is peace and elected leaders
are dictators — his comments were aimed at Venezuela’s democratically-elected
government that is offering its services to assist with a negotiated peaceful
solution to Colombia’s more than four decade-long civil war.

Venezuela’s representative in the Organization of American States (OAS), Jorge
Valero, hit back that same day, calling the US government “the terrorist
government par excellence”.

Valero argued it was “an absolutely stupid thing to say from the government of
Mr Bush … that practices state terrorism, that has invaded Iraq and Afghanistan
without respect for international law, that commits genocidal practices in
various parts of the world, that has invaded Latin American and Caribbean
countries …”

Having viewed Latin America as its own backyard for decades, Washington is
becoming increasingly concerned about developments south of its border. Its
biggest headache is Venezuela, whose government has been making important
headway in bring together governments of Latin America, as well as undermining
capitalism inside Venezuela.

Washington has waged a constant public campaign (similar to its campaign
against Iraq before the invasion) attempting to link Venezuela with
narcotrafficking, terrorism, promoting an arms race, money laundering and threats
to regional security.

US-Venezuelan lawyer Eva Golinger argued on the Venezuelan TV show La Hojilla that this campaign is
aimed at containing Chavez’s influence and undermining Latin American
integration — a process aided by the election of a number of governments that,
to varying degrees, have proven willing to exercise independence from
Washington and pursue closer regional collaboration.

For Dario Azzellini, author of several books about US military intervention
into the region, Colombia’s illegal cross-border attack (publicly supported by
the US government, which funds and arms the Colombian military) was the first
step in carrying out more serious military infractions across its border in
order to provoke a response from Venezuela and lay the blame for the subsequent
conflict at their feet.

“Their aim is to create massive destabilisation in a region where Colombia
would play a similar role to that of Israel in the Middle East”, Azzellini told Green left Weekly.

“The Colombian government said that they had the coordinates of Reyes
whereabouts for month, during which we can suppose that he moved between
Colombian, Venezuelan and Ecuadorian territory as part of the current
negotiations by the FARC in releasing prisoners. So the question is why did
they choose to carry it out in Ecuador?

“It was a test, they wanted to do it in Ecuadorian territory and not in
Venezuela to see what the international reaction would be.”

Luis Bilbao, director of Latin American magazine America XXI , told GLW US imperialism had two aims in mind with
Colombia’s attack (which was clearly coordinated with the US) — put a halt to
the hopes for humanitarian accord with the FARC, who only days before had
released four prisoners unilaterally, and sabotage the growing South American

Finding a political solution to Colombia’s current conflict is a danger to
Washington, which has used it as justification to build up their military
presence in Colombia. This is why the issue of peace in Colombia is so closely
intertwined with the process of Latin American integration.

Colombia's attack came just days before global protests in favour of a peaceful
solution to Colombia's civil war and against state and paramilitary violence,
which targets political activists, with more trade unionists killed in Colombia
every year than any other country. On March 6, hundreds of thousands marched
across Colombia, defying threats of reprisals from paramilitaries.

Associated Press reported on March 14 that six organisers of the march had been
murdered, and two dozen more received death threats from the Black Eagles death

Moreover, Bilbao pointed out that in the immediate aftermath of this event, it
seemed unthinkable that the meeting of
the South American Community of Nations (Unasur, formed in April 2002 with the
aim of creating a European Union-style body across South America) that had been
scheduled to take place in Colombia at the end of the month could have gone

Such a turn of events would suit Washington, as the development of Unasur
threatens the ability of the US to exert its control over the region on behalf
of US corporate interests.

Bilbao argued that the action was nonetheless a big mistake on the part of
Colombia. Bilbao argued that “they didn’t attack Venezuela”, as Venezuelan
foreign minister Nicolas Maduro had stated Venezuela expected, “because of the
firm stance that Venezuela has taken and instead attacked Ecuador expecting a
timid response … setting a precedent for further repeat actions in Ecuador and
to extend this to Venezuela”.

However the firm stance by both Ecuador and Venezuela — both of whose
governments broke diplomatic ties and moved troops to their Colombian borders —
put Colombia on the back foot.

In fact, rather than reverse the trend towards integration, the response to
Colombia’s attack could mark an important regional realignment — assisting the
process of regional integration.

The most significant event was the summit of the Group of Rio held on March 6
and 7. Televised live across the whole continent, representatives of all Latin
American governments debated the issue without the presence of the US

After a fiery debate, the meeting came to a unanimous decision to reject the
actions of the Colombian government and any further violation of the
sovereignty of another country. Crucially, the vote was a rejection of the
doctrine of
“preventive war” that the US has pushed since the
September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Ecuador and Venezuela are pushing for the March 17 meeting of the OAS (of which
the US is a member) to ratify the Group of Rio’s motion. Ecuadorian President
Rafael Correa has stated bluntly that if the OAS meeting did not condemn the
aggression, that it should be thrown “in the dustbin of history”.

Arguing that it would be “difficult for the US government to oppose such a
resolution”, Valero asserted that “I don’t believe the United States has
sufficient strength to crush the will of the Rio Group countries”.

Source: Green Left Weekly