The 35th summit of the Organization of American States (OAS) was held in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the first days of June this year. It marked another tactical defeat for the Bush regime’s State Department under Condoleezza Rice and her Latin American point man, Roger Noriega. Noriega and Rice performed in tune with the aleatory mix of wishful thinking, hypocrisy and bullying that traditionally mar US diplomacy in Latin America.
With Noriega accusing Venezuela of organizing the popular uprising in Bolivia (1), Rice tried to convince Latin American leaders to expand OAS powers of intervention by creating new mechanisms to monitor democracy in individual countries and intervene where necessary. That proposal, widely regarded as directed at Venezuela, was rejected by an embarrassingly large majority of OAS members. The Brazilian foreign Minister Celso Amorin, apparently forgetful of his government’s role in Haiti, declared “democracy cannot be imposed”.(2) In contrast to the US failure to advance its aggressive agenda, a Venezuelan resolution proposing a Social Charter for the Americas was accepted. (3)
The acute crises in Bolivia and Haiti received surprisingly little attention in the summit, which dealt among other things with internal housekeeping such as the election of Surinamese Albert Ramdin as deputy to the recently appointed Secretary General, Chilean Jose Insulza. Among the fallout from the anti-climax, a little reported item may herald a more determined hard line by the United States and its regional allies against growing anti-imperialist resistance in Latin America. The OAS agreed to send Secretary General Insulza to Nicaragua to help the crumbling US client there, President Enrique BolaÃ±os.
While Noriega seethes in impotent frustration at the onward march of Venezuela and Rice continues to flounder out of her depth, John Maisto the US representative to the OAS cleans up after them. Maisto has decades of solid experience as a career diplomat in Latin America. Like his stable-mate John Negroponte, he is typical of the many shrewd, competent officials available to the Bush regime to counter-balance futile ideologues like Rice and Noriega. As US ambassador to Managua in the 1980s, Maisto managed the internal front for the counter-revolution in Nicaragua. During the Sandinista government, Maisto ran Enrique BolaÃ±os when the current Nicaraguan President headed up the anti-Sandinista Nicaraguan business organization COSEP.
From Quito to Managua avoiding La Paz
Following the coup in Ecuador earlier this year, the OAS sent an observation mission to Quito in late April to assess the ouster of Lucio Gutierrez. Their presence was not welcome, even among Ecuador’s political elite. Ecuadoran Information Minister Carlos CortÃ©s criticised as unjust the OAS failure to condemn the constitutional violations committed by Gutierrez (4).
Subsequently, Ecuador rejected the OAS observers’ report out of hand. The Ecuadoran ambassador to the OAS denounced it as blatant interference in Ecuador’s internal affairs.(5) Since the observer mission was not empowered to make recommendations, the diplomatic spat seemed inconsequential at the time. But it fed other countries’ vehement resistance to the US proposal in Florida to give the OAS more direct powers of intervention.
People in Ecuador followed the Bolivian model of popular protest to remove their dictatorial President. They succeeded because Lucio Gutierrez had virtually no popular support. Similarly, the OAS proved useless in its efforts to prop up Carlos Mesa as president in Bolivia against the massive rejection of his attempts to favour the wishes of multinational energy corporations and the IMF against the interests of the impoverished majority.
In Nicaragua, the disappearance of political support for President BolaÃ±os has created crisis conditions similar to those that led to the fall of Gutierrez in Ecuador and Mesa in Bolivia. In late May this year, the OAS sent a “technical mission” to monitor the institutional dispute between President BolaÃ±os and the National Assembly. The OAS mission’s report sided inevitably with the beleaguered BolaÃ±os administration, the imperial US proxy currently on duty in Managua.
In 2004, BolaÃ±os narrowly escaped legal proceedings for misuse of electoral funds. Similar moves against Lucio Gutierrez in Ecuador were the prelude to his downfall. Likewise, in Peru, President Toledo is also accused of electoral infringements and campaign funding abuses.(6) All these Presidents represent anti-patriotic interests subservient to the regime in Washington. All their administrations have been tainted with corruption. BolaÃ±os enjoys little domestic political support, like Toledo, Mesa and Gutierrez, hence the political crises that have either toppled those Presidents or brought them to the brink of defeat.
BolaÃ±os modernises the William Walker gambit
In Florida, BolaÃ±os’ Foreign Minister Norman Caldera appealed directly to Condoleezza Rice(7), as president of the summit, for preventive action to defend the BolaÃ±os government. BolaÃ±os wants to roll back legislation passed by the National Assembly that strips some executive powers from the Presidency. So politically feeble has the Nicaraguan government become, it no longer has sufficient support in the legislature to impede moves against it. Instead of acknowledging that political failure, President Enrique BolaÃ±os is following the time-honoured tradition of the Nicaraguan oligarchy and appealing for outside intervention – ostensibly to the OAS, in reality to the Bush regime in Washington.
Norman Caldera and Enrique BolaÃ±os are representative specimens of the Nicaraguan oligarchy. Vain, greedy, mediocre white machistas, they have never apologised to the Nicaraguan people for collaborating with the murderous US terror war against Nicaragua through the 1980s. Lacking in humility, personally immature, they still project blame for the current ills of Nicaragua into the past, back fifteen or twenty years onto the Sandinista revolution.
The conflict in Nicaragua is now as it has always been a class and race conflict. Nostalgic for the days when their white-skinned class held sway undisputed, Enrique BolaÃ±os and his colleagues are determined to hang on to the vestiges of power so as to continue to sell out their country in the style to which they are accustomed. In this they resemble their forebears in the 19th century oligarchy that invited William Walker and his filibusters to Nicaragua. Now brought up to date, the same policy of sell-out collaboration with foreign intervention is being applied via the OAS.
They are acting while they still have time and the correlation of forces is not entirely adversary. As Nicaragua’s elected government, BolaÃ±os and his team are within their rights to appeal for OAS advice and appraisal. But almost all legislators and jurists in Nicaragua overwhelmingly reject BolaÃ±os’ attempt to override genuine dialogue by attempting to impose a resolution secured recently from the Central American Court over Nicaragua’s own constitution.
The constitution in its very first article states,”Independence, sovereignty and national self-determination are irrevocable rights of the people and the basis of the Nicaraguan nation. All foreign interference in the internal affairs of Nicaragua or any attempt to undermine those rights injures the life of the people. It is the duty of all Nicaraguans to preserve and defend those rights.” (8) Apparently ignoring their oath to uphold their country’s constitution, Caldera and BolaÃ±os make implausible, foolish attempts to argue that the recent Central American Court ruling trumps Nicaragua’s own Magna Carta.
In Bolivia, President Mesa walked inexorably to defeat with each attempt he made to defend unconstitutional policies favouring foreign energy mulitnationals. The longer President BolaÃ±os refuses to recognize his political failure and the fatal inadequacy of his government’s submission to the IMF, the World Bank and the US government, the deeper the crisis in Nicaragua will become. Like Mesa in Bolivia and Gutierrez in Ecuador, BolaÃ±os and his colleagues put foreign interests before the needs of their people.
Of that, last week’s attempt to force through an 11% price rise in electricity prices at the behest of the Spanish energy multinational Union Fenosa is just the latest proof. Superficially, the Nicaraguan government seems embattled in a domestic tiff with the national legislature. At a deeper level, the government is working on behalf of the IMF and the United States to defeat national resistance to corporate economic and environmental pillage and to imperialist political subjugation.
Managua and La Paz – the empire experiments…
Condoleezza Rice, Roger Noriega, John Maisto and their regional allies most likely hope that the scheduled visit of OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza to Managua will help develop a model of diplomatic intervention sufficient to stem the anti-imperialist tide washing over Latin America. For them Nicaragua is a symbolic prize they cannot afford to lose. Unfortunately, the available human material to keep Nicaragua in its current imperialist straitjacket is as poor as that available in Venezuela and Bolivia. Worn-out, useless lumpen-oligarchy dunderheads posture without a clue how to address their country’s social, economic and environmental problems.
Insulza’s visit to Nicaragua should be assessed together with what is happening in Bolivia. Various elements of both situations will be taken and applied by Washington’s Latin America team for use against the Venezuelan government and elsewhere when necessary. In Nicaragua, they are practising the best way to use OAS mechanisms to undermine constitutional sovereignty.
In Bolivia, they are exploring how to defeat popular attempts to control national resources by engineering autonomy or outright secession of resource-rich provinces like Santa Cruz. For Santa Cruz, Bolivia, read Zulia, Venezuela. There is no doubt the US government will develop both the Nicaraguan and the Bolivian interventionist modalities for use in Venezuela and elsewhere when conditions permit.
toni solo is an activist based in Central America, contact via [email protected]
1. “US Outburst at OAS Meeting: Chavez & the Bolivian Crisis” Al Giordano, http://narcosphere.narconews.com/story/2005/6/8/91629/48549, 8th June 2005 2. “EE.UU. naufragÃ³ en su propia ola injerencista”, Orlando Oramas LeÃ³n. Prensa Latina. June 8th 2005.3. “Latinoamericana triunfÃ³ en la reuniÃ³n de la 35 Asamblea General de la OEA” www.argenpress.info 9/6/20054. “Ecuador, tareas pendientes”, Osvaldo Cardosa SamÃ³n, Prensa Latina April 25th 20055. “Ecuador: Nuevo freno para la OEA”, Leovani GarcÃa Prensa Latina May 14th 2005