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#180203 - 06/15/05 05:35 PM Way to go Belize!
Sir Isaac Newton Offline
"No country, no matter how powerful, has the right to define democracy for the world," said Belize's minister of national development, Assad Shoman.

AMEN! George probably didn't get it though.


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Reuters) - President Bush urged Latin America on Monday to build on democratic gains of recent decades but U.S. proposals to establish a democratic watchdog floundered on fears of U.S. interference and angered Venezuela.

Addressing the 34-member Organization of American States at a time when many Latin American leaders are contesting U.S. influence, Bush said gains in democracy since dictators ruled much of the region "must not be taken for granted."

In a 15-minute speech at the first OAS meeting in the United States in more than 30 years, Bush told the Western Hemisphere's top diplomatic body it faced a choice between two visions.

"One offers a vision of hope. It is founded on representative government, integration into the world markets, and a faith in the transformative power of freedom in individual lives," he said.

"The other seeks to roll back the democratic progress of the past two decades by playing to fear, pitting neighbor against neighbor and blaming others for their own failures to provide for their people," he added.

Bush made no direct mention of a U.S. proposal to add teeth to the OAS' Inter-American Democratic Charter by establishing a mechanism to monitor abuses by individual governments, potentially through civic groups or by elder statesmen.

But the measure took center stage at the three-day meeting in Fort Lauderdale and exposed widening fault lines between the Bush administration and Washington's traditional "backyard," where left-leaning governments have been elected from Argentina to Venezuela.

It also drew the wrath of Venezuela, one of the United States' biggest oil suppliers, which saw the proposal as aimed at leftist President Hugo Chavez, a vocal critic of U.S. power who has launched a self-styled revolution to better the lot of his country's poor.

Bush pledged to make Latin America a priority when he took office in January 2001, but Washington's attention shifted after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The war in Iraq was also unpopular in Latin America, where many still harbor memories of heavy-handed U.S. interference during the Cold War.

In a rare diplomatic defeat, the United States was forced this year to abandon two candidates it had backed for the OAS leadership. The job finally went to Jose Miguel Insulza, a leftist Chilean statesman.


Venezuela denounced the U.S. proposal to monitor the democratic performance of OAS members.

"The OAS is not entitled to evaluate the state of democracy in different countries," Venezuelan Foreign Minister Ali Rodriguez told the gathering.

"We are not doing anything in order to change the politics, the decisions of the government of the United States, so we ask for the same treatment for Venezuela," he told reporters later.

Chavez was twice elected president of the world's No. 5 oil exporter, but Washington and other critics say he is showing authoritarian tendencies.

While all Latin American ministers attending the OAS meeting spoke of the need to deepen the region's commitment to democracy, most highlighted the organization's founding charter that barred interference in another country's affairs.

"Democracy cannot be imposed; it is born in dialogue," said Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim.

"No country, no matter how powerful, has the right to define democracy for the world," said Belize's minister of national development, Assad Shoman.

Some delegates spoke in favor of the U.S. proposal, such as Peru's representative to the OAS, Alberto Borea Odria, who said his country suffered in the 1990s when former President Alberto Fujimori became increasingly authoritarian.

(Additional reporting by Adam Entous, Michael Christie, Arshad Mohammed and Frances Kerry)
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#180204 - 06/15/05 05:37 PM Re: Way to go Belize!
Sir Isaac Newton Offline
Just for you ilCattivo
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#180205 - 06/15/05 07:30 PM Re: Way to go Belize!
Catatonic Motivator Offline
Yeah, you're probably right. The US should probably stop pumping any dollars into those economies as well (tourist dollars, foreign aid, oil purchases, etc.) Having your hand bitten while feeding seems so, um, pointless.

Whatever. The biggest targets take the most flak.
* I Go Pogo *

#180206 - 06/15/05 07:58 PM Re: Way to go Belize!
Richard Chambers Offline
I'm with you CatMo, those thankless US $ could be better spent at home taking care of our own!

#180207 - 06/15/05 08:40 PM Re: Way to go Belize!
RobertE Offline
"Give, expecting nothing thereof."

Saint Thomas Aquinas

#180208 - 06/15/05 08:57 PM Re: Way to go Belize!
SP Daily Offline
Richard: Weren't you thanked sufficiently for spending your US$ here? Most visitors remark on how well they were welcomed and treated.

#180209 - 06/15/05 09:03 PM Re: Way to go Belize!
ChrisW Offline
Those countless US tax dollars that are so generously sent to aid "unappreciative" poor countries end up in two places. One in the hands of powerful locals whose palms need to greased to make the game work. And two back in the U.S. in the hands of the ones that approved the aid in the first place.

This is done by having the bribed powerful locals spend the money on U.S. contractors that happened to be owned by the ones that approved the aid in the first place.

Chavez and Castro for that matter are on the US's sh*t list because they don't want to play the game and actually have shown some intentions of trying to help poor people instead of just trying to help line the pockets of the rich and powerful.

Note that I said "have shown some intentions". The motives of anybody that is that rich and powerful have to be suspect. Unless it is President Bush and his cronies, who can, of course, be trusted 100% to be always looking out for us humble tax payers and the worlds poor and down trodden.... wink

#180210 - 06/15/05 09:17 PM Re: Way to go Belize!
SimonB Offline
Third world (and some first world) countries wouldn't need as much aid if it wasn't for the ridiculous subsidies that are thrown around in the US subverting many of the economies of the world.

The sugar and cotton subsidies in the US alone are many times the GDP of dozens of countries that depend on those crops for income (cotton is $4 billion). Drop the subsidies and you wouldn't have to send as much aid. Like to see that one get past the lobbiests.

#180211 - 06/15/05 09:40 PM Re: Way to go Belize!
Catatonic Motivator Offline
<The motives of anybody that is that rich and powerful have to be suspect.>

Excellent sweeping generalization. Not particularly well thought-out, but a great example nonetheless.

Not oddly, I detect a deep bitterness from many of the SP US expats that post here. Sort of the vocal minority of the "I was wronged" crowd, it appears.

Honestly, some of y'all complain vociferously about the US and its politics but, rather obviously, aren't willing or in a position to do a thing about it. And I understand--from people who are not just sitting around whining but actually trying to do some things with and about the GOB--that it's difficult to change the processes of the past, in Belize and elsewhere. But where you are is what you get...unless you actually work to change it.

That's true for us all.

Better read this one quick. I don't think it'll last long.
* I Go Pogo *

#180212 - 06/15/05 11:36 PM Re: Way to go Belize!
Sir Isaac Newton Offline
Sweeping generalizations = "The US should probably stop pumping any dollars into those economies..."


"Having your hand bitten while feeding.." Whoa now, easy bredda. Is there such a thing as a "free lunch", especially from the public relations firm, CIA Inc.?

This wasn't directed at US citizens and it's ex-pats. But things do take different perspective when growing and living in a nation outside of the US. But, then again, the guy with the biggest stick (and deepest pockets) is usually right.

No bitterness here dude, no time for that, I'm livin' the dream, just biggin' up our Ambassador!


Assad Shoman is "people who are not just sitting around whining but actually trying to do some things", for Belize, who yes, has current problems, but as a voice in the OAS, may help to make a difference in Latin America.

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