Gone are the days when US politicians could hardly tell where Brazil is on a world map. The era when US diplomacy in Latin America distinguished itself by its “Big Stick” policy is over.
It is no longer the era when a Brazilian Foreign Minister had to take shoes off to be searched at a US airport. Finally, gone are the days when a president of Brazil, in a gesture endorsing neocolonialism, proclaimed that “what is good for the United States is good for Brazil.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her trip to Brazil, sensed the changing times, having to recognize our country’s role as a major global player. Expressing once again the imperialist policy toward Iran, Hillary exhaustively laid out her argument for sanctions against the country. In turn, President Lula did not hesitate to say that Brazil maintains its position that a dialogue with Iran must be constantly sought, against the threat of sanctions urged by the wife of former president Bill Clinton, setting down the following: “Brazil maintains its position. Brazil has a clear vision for the Middle East and Iran. Brazil understands that it is possible to chart a different course. It is unwise to corner Iran. What is prudent is to establish negotiations.”
Despite the diplomatic tone in the presence of Lula and Celso Amorim, Hillary didn’t miss an opportunity to go beyond the search for consensus on the issue of Iran. In São Paulo, far more at ease, she grabbed an opportunity to heavily criticize Venezuela and to play one country against another with her comparison of Venezuelan institutions with Brazilian democracy.
Now, that obsession with Iran? Is it that the US is concerned about “humanitarian” issues and the future of the planet if Iran acquires a weapon of mass destruction? In “grand politics” there is no room for naïveté — only concrete analysis of the concrete situation. In this sense, what the US is seeking is to expand its presence in the lands of Mesopotamia, now with its claws aiming for Iran, and in a region where oil flows in abundance. From the strategic point of view, any educated person can see that the politics of imperialist plunder in the Middle East is calibrated to the goal of containing the highly industrialized, nuclear Russia and the industrially and financially growing China, which, too, has an atomic power of persuasion.
If Iran has become a major “problem” to be managed by means of threats and the imposition of a puppet power in Iraq, what about Latin America beyond what has been already exposed above? After all, Mrs. Clinton’s itinerary was geometrically planned, including Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, and Guatemala, which means drawing a geographical boundary that isolates Bolivia, Ecuador, and Venezuela and supports Honduras where a conservative solution was found with the anti-democratic overthrow of Zelaya.
In all countries she visited, Hillary Clinton spoke with the heads of state and government. For example, in Argentina she made herself available as mediator on the question of the Malvinas Islands, when all that Argentina needs from the United States in this matter is not mediation, but the end to the US support for the “right” of England to defend its interests anywhere on the planet. History shows that this type of mediation always ends up benefiting the “colonizer,” beginning with an exchange of sovereignty for administration. This means that the best that Argentina could hope for under US mediation would be regaining sovereignty over the archipelago but nevertheless maintaining the unfair status of its administration under external control.
The US Secretary of State also exploited the tour to address the audience of academics, journalists, and so on in an ideological crusade — in the style of the “Manifest Destiny” — for “free trade” and other ahistorical blather. Latin America does not need models or primers. We are making the same demands that led the United States to spark a revolt against the British rule and declare independence in 1776. We want sovereignty.
On the other hand, it is well to point out that, if Barack Obama really wants to improve the relations between his country and Latin America, he had better start practicing what he preaches in his speeches, beginning with a curtailment of subsidies to US farmers. It is scandalous for the US to lecture the world on free trade while massively subsidizing its agricultural economy, an issue recently recognized by the World Trade Organization (WTO) itself.
Renato Rabelo is the national president of the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB). The original article “O imperialismo, o Irã e a América Latina” was published on the PCdoB Web site on 10 March 2010. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).