Latin Americans, traditionally polite, conservative and family oriented have largely come to hate the United States of America. But let us be clear, they hate our government and its policies, not necessarily we the people.
George W. Bush has come to epitomize the reasons for this hatred: Bellicose and belligerent rhetoric, complete disregard for world opinion, dismissing of international law, contempt for the United Nations, favoritism for large corporations and the wealthy who control them, war making in defiance of treaty and charter, false fear mongering to muster support for such war, alliances—with profuse military aid—to brutal dictatorships and oligarchies that exploit the majority for the benefit of the few, secret wars and assassinations of democratically elected leaders, prison tortures, secret detentions and “renditions,” bullying and intimidating tactics in trade and diplomacy, disregard of human rights abuses of which we are complicit, peddling of war materials and ordnance with unabashed enthusiasm, duplicity and hypocrisy in foreign dealings, extra-territorial claim and a failed unilateral embargo that does most harm to the frail, old and weak in Cuba.
All are now strongly associated with Mr. Bush. Is it any wonder that he is portrayed as a fascist in much of Latin America, despised and reviled and held up to universal scorn?
The truth, of course, is that Mr. Bush is only the inheritor of much of this legacy. But rather than acknowledge the error and unjustness of these policies, he has expanded them in many ways. This fact is what drove the protesters into the streets and stadiums of Argentina, supported by the overwhelming majority of public opinion in Latin America. If we had lived in their lands and witnessed these same policies—with the distinct advantage of objectivity from afar, most of us would probably be joining in.
Myopia and insularity, along with a certain “manifest destiny” of assumed superiority is what continues to drive these heavy-handed tactics.
The rest of the world can see it clearly.
Meanwhile, we keep our blinders on, rationalizing the justifications in our cocooned world and dismissing all dissenters. Like Mr. Bush in his relations to Mr. Chavez and Latin America’s many valid critiques, we choose to “ignore them as much as possible.”
As if ignoring a wildfire will make it go away.
John R. Bomar
Dr. John Bomar is a spanish speaking traveller to Latin America for over thirty years.