From Latin America with love: Thank you, America, for ignoring us!

Thomas Gray’s maxim stating that “ignorance is bliss” has been both, widely accepted and widely refuted. Proponents and opponents to what that gentleman said, or meant to say, back in 1742 seem to gather with equally opposing strength as centuries pass. Of late, however, the people of Latin America may have given us a replacement to that axiom, coining with their actions a true gem: “Bliss is being ignored – by the US!”

And you know what? They may have come up with an irrefutable truism when we try to make sense of what they mean by that. However, what they are saying south of the border and what we get from America’s corporate press confound us as if originating in Babel. Commentary by so-called experts on Latin America, usually from think-tanks of convenience – those from where most propaganda germinates which serves the needs of both the White House and the State Department – seem to always give us a minority or dissenting view… something which would be acceptable were it not presented as the majority or prevailing view. And that’s basically what we get, minority-imposed views.

Recently I came across an article-commentary typical of what’s being written these days; it was penned by Alejandro Chafuen from Atlas Economic Research Foundation, under a catchy headline, “Latin America won’t just sit still and be ignored – Our southern neighbors grow politically restive with U.S. inaction to their legitimate economic worries”. What, you say!? Is this individual for real or is he just a PR man for the Latin elite?

The fact that George W. Bush has ignored the breaking of political piñatas south of the border – way, way south of the Rio Grand – might have made the powerful local elite, and their squire-class of enablers, politically restive in Central and South America; but as far as most of the people who live there, those best described as without a pied à terre in Miami or elsewhere in the States or Europe, these past six years have proven to be a true blessing, bringing a ray of hope for a true beginning of social and economic reform. It’s not an anti-democratic or anti-American trend that is taking place, as we are being led to believe by a shamelessly lying government and a conformational press. What’s happening in the Latin Down Under is not really about us, it’s about them; about people freeing themselves from us, the “corporate America” that has kept the powerless in those nations as permanent beggars, at times mistakenly looking northward for alms.

At this point, all we have seen is nothing more than the unlocking of the gates to allow passage of both political reform and economic equity for hundreds of millions of Latin Americans. Whether or not these peaceful socio-economic revolutions succeed, and to what degree, remains an experimental unknown for now.

What the governments of Ortega (Nicaragua), Chavez (Venezuela), Correa (Ecuador), Morales (Bolivia), Lula (Brazil) – or the more acceptable, to the US government, political evolutions in Chile and Argentina – give us as a bottom line a decade or two from today, assuming the US does not intervene, will determine success or failure and not any ill-founded demagoguery pitting socialism against capitalism. Capitalism, defined as properly regulated free-enterprise, should be able to co-exist and thrive under almost any form of socialism. Only predatory capitalism will shrivel and die a natural death.

One thing we feel safe to bet on: results, no matter how dismal, cannot possibly be as bad as those obtained in the past under predatory capitalism, even if blasphemously camouflaged as free-enterprise; not for 70 percent of the people in the region, perhaps a much higher figure in some nations with larger indigenous population. The people are simply fed up, and have been saying so where it counts: at the ballot box. They are shouting to the four winds: enough!

For almost two centuries, Latin America has been Wednesday’s Child for the US. No sooner had the Iberian colonies asserted their independence in the Americas, that it was made known to them all new nations in the Western Hemisphere – British Canada excluded – were under the protection and foster care, of fair and wise Uncle Samuel. And for almost two centuries, the parasitic relationship between the Northern Giant and the Southern Lilliputians has not changed.

My own personal exposure to this Gringo-Latin relationship started at the tail end of the Alliance for Progress which had began a decade earlier by John F. Kennedy with little in the way of funds, but much hullabaloo and tear-jerking rhetoric to counter what was seen as a possible communist threat from Cuba to “US interests.” An overall failure, since it was unable to meet even the pygmy goals stated in 1961 at Punta del Este in education, health, and economic well-being for most Latin Americans, it is symbolic of what the US had done before, or what has done since in Latin America. The US invested less than $1 per individual per year, and that insignificant figure was not even in net transfers of resources and development.

The Alliance for Progress was little more than a PR job that could not cut the mustard with even the simpletons among economists. Who could believe that the powerful elite would allow any land reform, or more equitable income distribution, or more restrain by the powerful in abusing those who lacked power; the powerful being the team of corporate Yanks and local-elite? Dictatorships multiplied during that period with our consent, and often with our direct help, and for all our freedom-talking rhetoric we helped hang democracy in every town square. As for anecdotes, I have dozens of them, many as an admittedly participant, and where the Agency for International Development (USAID) was but a sad joke. Can anyone fathom the US guaranteeing low interest funding for low cost housing which ended up being owned by top military brass and business elite (Bolivia) or similar projects having the rich as beneficiaries?

Enough! No more PR safety-valves for global exploitation by predatory capitalists and their supporting governments. Doesn’t it make sense that Latin Americans are ecstatic as America, under Bush, pays full attention to the mess it has created in the Middle East ignoring its Latin protégé? Can we, at least this once, let people in other parts of the world determine what’s good for them… instead of homicidally intruding in their affairs?

It would be most difficult to refute that… “Bliss is being ignored – by the United States!”