Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ecuador, and the U.S. Role in Latin America

For years, the United States government has covertly undermined Latin American democracy while claiming--contrarily--to be spreading democracy throughout the world. On Thursday, their "democratic" role in the world continued in the attempted coup d'etat against Rafael Correa of Ecuador.

The state's post-WWII obsession with Latin America began in 1954, when Jacobo Arbez Guzmán--the democratically elected president of Guatemala--was ousted by the CIA for attempting to nationalize the United Fruit Company. The succeeding dictators killed approximately 200,000 Guatemalans, and displaced several more. Following that coup, U.S. policy toward the region would only become more brutal and dangerous.

Our most dangerous intervention occurred when in 1962, the United States nearly had nuclear exchange with the Soviet Union due to JFK's aggressive stance toward Cuba--in addition to his attempted invasion of Cuba in 1962. Later, September 11, 1973 would see the CIA's installation of a fascist dictator in Chile, who would eventually kill thousands of civilians and torture tens of thousands. Other U.S. interventions in the region would include the Dominican Republic, Panama, Bolivia, Haiti, Venezuela, El Salvador and the infamous Contra aggression against Nicaragua. Most of these interventions would be against freely elected presidents, who merely wanted to redistribute their countries' wealth to help their poor majorities.

President Obama came into the office with claims to a more open-minded world view (he initiated talks with Hugo Chavez), but he nevertheless blatantly supported the coup against democratically-elected Manuel Zelaya of Honduras. Rafael Correa of Ecuador, another "dangerous" freely elected Latin American president (with approval ratings of 67%), predicted afterward that he would be the next leader targeted in the region. Thursday proved him right, as the Ecuadoran police--who are on good relations with the U.S. government--pelted him with tear gas and clashed with the army. The Ecuadoran health minister says that eight people died and 274 were injured in the clash, one of whom being a university student.

One can only hope that their president will not use this as an opportunity to initiate authoritarian measures, but if he does, it will be due to our support of the attempted coup.

Rather than allow U.S. financial interests to interfere with Latin America, we should act in solidarity with indigenous Latin Americans, and together hold our government accountable for its role in the region.

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