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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 8th, 2007
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

At SustainabiliTank.info we are watching with fascination the various new minuets at the UN and in Latin America. The launching of a purported one year life span – INTERNATIONAL BIOFUELS FORUM – that will try to pick up subjects like the commoditization of ethanol-for-fuel that were started 30 years ago, but got burried by US Congress, is now the latest mantra sounding from Washington.

The subject lies dead for 30 years and no prince in sight yet who will say that it is insane to punish imports of ethanol to the US by slaming on them a high tariff, while imports of oil get no tariff, and are in effect susidized with military expenditures, and waste in human life to mercenary US armed forces.

Has the US woken up because of the forays that Chavez makes distributing money he gets from the US for seling it oil? Chavez even distributed money to the US poor – right here in New York City! He is now going to visit a thankfull Argentina that he helped save from financial debacles that came about in part because US banks lent money in situations that did not warant credit.

Latin America is not yet the Middle East – so an honest effort by the US might yet win the day. Will we see such an honest effort? We are eager and watching.

In the meantime, and before coming out with our own informed opinions, let us see what others think of the President’s trip to Latin countries of the hemisphere. The trip starts this coming Thursday, March 8, 2007.

The Washington Post of today – March 7, 2007, carried the following cartoon:

cartoon-78001.gif

The International Herald Tribune and The New York Times carried an article by Larry Rohter from Sao Paulo, Thom Shanker and Jim Rutenberg from Washington, but did not include any reporting from their UN correspondent – this is proof to us that they really did not give any credibility to the launching of the Forum that we witnessed at the UN. We believe that they are wrong, and that when President Bush gets to talk to President Lula of Brazil, and then to talk to President Tabare of Uruguay, with Chavez tripsing across the bay in Buenos Aires, there will be a change of heart by someone. We believe it will be the US President’s heart to change, and upon his return he may indeed be advised to fight Congress for change – and this time, on these topics, for change in a positive direction.

cartoon-78002.gif

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Bush Faces Clash of Agendas in Latin America

By JIM RUTENBERG   from Sao Paulo and LARRY ROHTER from Buenos Aires – for The New York Times – March 8, 2007.

President Bush arrived here tonight for the start of what he has portrayed as a “We Care” tour aimed at dispelling perceptions that he has neglected his southern neighbors.

08cnd_protests1902.jpg
Nabor Goulart/Associated Press
Protesters in Porto Alegre, Brazil,
today demonstrating against
President Bush’s upcoming visit.

08cnd_protest1901.jpg
Rodrigo Arangua/AFP-Getty Images
Students in Bogota, Colombia, today
protesting the upcoming visit
of President Bush.

But the fresh graffiti on streets here in South America’s largest city calls Mr. Bush a murderer. And the smattering of protests and the placement of antiaircraft guns around town that have preceded his arrival present an alternate interpretation of his visit: as a clash between the United States-style capitalism he espouses and the socialist approach pushed by leftist leaders who have grown in power and popularity.

And as the Bush administration prepares to use the president’s five-nation tour to highlight a new ethanol development deal with Brazil, the world leader in that technology, and American health care and education programs elsewhere, much of the pre-tour attention is focusing on what may best be called “The Rumble on the River.”

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Mr. Bush’s chief nemesis in Latin America, will be leading a protest against him in Buenos Aires as Mr. Bush arrives across the Rio de la Plata in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Friday night. “Our planes will almost cross paths,” Mr. Chávez said this week, although he denied any intention to sabotage Mr. Bush’s visit.

Mr. Bush played down Mr. Chávez’s planned rally in interviews with South American reporters this week, telling a group of them on Tuesday: “I go a lot of places and there are street rallies. And my attitude is, I love freedom and the right for people to express themselves.”

Whether inadvertently or not, though, Mr. Bush irritated Mr. Chávez with a speech he gave in Washington on Monday. In it, he said Simón Bolivar, the hero of South America’s independence struggle and Mr. Chávez’s idol, “belongs to all of us who love liberty.” That remark brought a sharp and sarcastic rejoinder from Mr. Chávez the next day during his weekly radio program.

But in spite of administration attempts to minimize the shadow cast on the visit by Mr. Chávez — who has called Mr. Bush “the devil” and has pushed an aggressively anti-American agenda throughout the region — the tour itself seems at least in part geared to counter his influence. Mr. Chávez has built that influence in part by showering poor communities in Latin America with money for housing and health care and freely dispensing oil at cut-rate prices.

Mr. Bush’s new agreement with Brazil to increase ethanol production in the region represents a way to cut back on the influence Mr. Chavez’s oil supply gives him while at the same time encouraging employment and economic development. And before arriving here, Mr. Bush announced a number of new initiatives to help the poor in Latin America, whom he referred to, in a venture into Spanish, as “workers and peasants.”

He promised hundreds of millions of dollars to help families buy homes and said he would dispatch a Navy hospital ship to the region to provide free health services.

In his interviews this week, Mr. Bush has repeated that the United States’ aid to Latin America has doubled during his tenure to roughly $1.6 billion a year. “When you total all up the money that is spent, because of the generosity of our taxpayers, that’s $8.5 billion to programs that promote social justice,” including education and health, he told reporters on Tuesday.

But the view from here could scarcely be more different. In an editorial headlined “Uncle Scrooge’s paltry package,” the conservative daily newspaper O Estado de São Paulo on Wednesday noted that Mr. Bush’s offering amounts to “the equivalent of five days’ cost of the war in Iraq, and a drop of water compared with the ocean of petrodollars in which Chávezism is navigating at full speed, from Argentina to Nicaragua.”

Some of Mr. Bush’s aides this week said they were worried that perceptions in the region that the United States had neglected its southern neighbors, and that frustration in lower classes that had not reaped the benefits of free trade, were helping to fuel the region’s leftist movements.

Stephen J. Hadley, Mr. Bush’s national security adviser, said, “It’s something we have not done well enough — getting out the full scope of the president’s message.”

Mr. Bush told reporters that he hoped to counter Mr. Chávez’s message by espousing the benefits of free trade.

Asked by a reporter about Mr. Chávez’s “so-called alternative development model” calling for nationalization of industry, Mr. Bush said: “I strongly believe that government-run industry is inefficient and will lead to more poverty. I believe if the state tries to run the economy, it will enhance poverty and reduce opportunity.”

He added, “So the United States brings a message of open markets and open government to the region.”

But even Mr. Bush’s Brazilian hosts seemed divided in their reaction to that message. Although President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva will be meeting with Mr. Bush on Friday to sign the ethanol accord and is scheduled to visit him at Camp David on March 31, the party he leads has chosen to support and participate in the anti-Bush demonstrations.

The party, the Leftist Workers’ Party, warned on its Web site that Mr. Bush “shouldn’t count on Brazil for imperialist actions in the region.” One essay called him “the big boss of international terrorism,” while another declared that Mr. Bush was “persona non grata” in Brazil.

“The United States in general and the Bush government in particular are brutally violent,” wrote Valter Pomar, the party’s head of international affairs. “We will only be free of this threat when the North American people constitute a government on the left.”

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