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Commentary :: Globalization
Failure in Cartagena
18 Apr 2012
Failure in Cartagena

by Stephen Lendman

On April 14 and 15, Cartagena, Columbia hosted the Sixth Summit of the Americas (SOA). Obama came, participated, and left empty-handed.

How different things were in three 1990s summits. James Petras calls the decade "the golden age of pillage." That was then. This is now.

America's imperial arrogance makes more enemies than friends. It also weakens influence. Ravaging the world one country at a time doesn't help. Neither does bullying nations to go along or else.

Summit theme this year was "Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prosperity." Latin American nations have different visions than Washington. They no longer accept being "America's backyard."

Perhaps Obama got the message, perhaps not. Others were delivered earlier. So will more from nations worldwide. Does he listen? His actions belie his rhetoric.

His agenda escalates same old, same old. He scorns democratic rights, equitable relations, and regional cooperation. He doesn't negotiate. He demands. He targets Venezuela and Cuba for regime change. Other Latin states wonder who's next.

On April 15, The New York Times headlined, "America's Meeting Ends With Discord Over Cuba," saying:

Excluding Cuba's participation drew sharp criticism. So did other issues raised. Perhaps Times writers didn't notice. They said Obama and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos proclaimed success.

Maybe grudgingly, The Times admitted "the gathering yielded no major achievement." Neither did the previous 2009 Port-of-Spain Trinidad and Tobago SOA.

Three months into his presidency, Obama tried portraying imperial America as Latin America's friend. In fact, since SOA's 1994 Miami inaugural, their purpose advanced Washington's imperium and exploitive agenda. One-way trade agreements are featured.

So-called free ones exclude fairness. Millions are gravely harmed. Only corporate profits matter, American ones mainly.

If enacted, The Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) promises adverse impacts on food, water, education, healthcare, other essentials, and environmental protections.

Like NAFTA, DR-CAFTA, and comparable bilateral deals, FTAA assures more privatizations and deregulation, increased economic inequality and concentrated wealth, environmental harm, and eroded or removed consumer protections and others for small farmers and private businesses.

Corporate giants alone stand to benefit. Consumers, indigenous communities, and ordinary households lose out. Public safety and health will be undermined. Removing "unnecessary barriers to trade" means letting corporate predators plunder freely for profit.

Obama's agenda promotes it. Public disapproval opposes. So do Latin states. In 2005, mass anti-FTAA demonstrations occurred during SOA's Mar del Plata, Argentina gathering. For the first time, the final communique included conflicting statements.

Doing so prevented agreement on FTAA's passage. It also showed America's waning regional influence.

In 2009, Obama again failed to reestablish Washington's preeminence. Wars on terrorism and drugs make more enemies than friends. So does embargoing Cuba, attempting to destabilize Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, and asserting hemispheric military dominance.

Increasingly, Latin America's flexing its sovereign rights. Big brother dominance is rejected. All nations are entitled to manage their own affairs freely. International law prohibits interfering in how other nations govern. For Washington, it's longstanding policy.

SOA 2012 ended like 2009. Joint statement consensus proved impossible. Disagreement this year focused on Cuba's SOA exclusion, Washington's half century embargo, failure to grant it OAS admission, the London/Buenos Aires Malvinas dispute, and America's destructive war on drugs.

Except for Canada, a virtual 51st state under either dominant party, other participating nations oppose America's agenda. For the second straight time, consensus failure produced no closing statement.

Instead, ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America) countries - Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Venezuela - issued a joint statement, saying they won't attend future SOAs unless Cuba participates and Washington's embargo ends.

Whether or not Brazil goes along, President Dilma Rousseff said Cartegena "must be the last one without Cuba." In a separate speech, she denounced Western monetary policies. She deplored near-zero interest rates flooding Brazil with foreign capital, using it speculatively, inflating Brasilia's currency, and pricing its exports out of world markets.

Before her 2010 election, regional states deplored Bush's agenda. After over three under Obama, nothing changed. In key respects things worsened.

He wages multiple imperial wars for unchallenged global dominance and plans others. His police state laws and crackdowns are repressive. He opposes Internet freedom. He threatens full-blown tyranny.

His economic policies promote unprecedented wealth concentration. His trade agenda's predatory and unfair. So are his domestic policies. They favor Wall Street, other corporate favorites, and super-rich elites. Ordinary households and America's least advantaged are force-fed austerity during hard times when help's desperately needed.

Latin heads of state aren't fooled. Neither are many others worldwide. Post-9/11, Bush headed America downhill. Obama accelerates his policies. Cartagena participants leveled criticisms.

Cuba's a key sore point. A half century embargo grows increasingly intolerable. Obama claiming Havana hasn't "moved to democracy" doesn't hold water. Some of America's closest allies are brutal despots.

Democracy or lack of it's never an issue. It's whether nations accept America as boss, salute, and obey.

On the Malvinas, Latin American states unanimously support Argentina. Washington backs Britain. On drugs, Obama's militarized agenda was rejected. For decades, America's approach created the world's largest prison population, increased bloodshed, and let production, distribution, and use proliferate.

Legalizing what freely available is long overdue. Obama, like earlier presidents, rejects it out of hand. Reasons given are spurious.

Doing so would subvert Washington's longstanding covert support, an estimated $1.5 trillion annual racket, CIA's involvement, and major banks laundering hundreds of billions a year profitably.

Of SOA's 32 participants, 30 voted to end Cuba's exclusion from future summits. Only Washington and Canada voted no. Banishment dates back half a century.

It followed Castro's liberating struggle. Decades of imperial dominance, police state rule, and mafia bosses turning the nation into a brothel and casino ended.

Cubans may want change, but won't tolerate recolonization under puppets serving Washington. It's long past time to end decades of hostility, accept Cuba's sovereignty, and normalize relations.

Obama, like Bush, rejects it. Expect no change in a second term or if Mitt Romney's elected. He's even more hardline. Both favor war, imperial dominance, and corporate favoritism.

A Final Comment

The chasm between north and south widens. Latin states pursue their own agenda. It favors cooperation, not confrontation.

Perhaps one day they'll abandon Washington altogether. It's an idea whose time has come. Maybe it'll catch on and spread. What better way to promote peace and prosperity.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen (at)

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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