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Bolivarian Socialists Want All Eyes on the “Imperialists”

By: Javier Garay - @Crittiko - Feb 18, 2015, 3:04 pm

EspañolOn Monday, February 9, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) were convened by Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro to discuss an alleged destabilization plan orchestrated by — as chance would have it — the United States.

This shows the depths which Maduro has reached, and his increasingly weak grip on power. On the sidelines of the meeting, Maduro begged members of the unilateral organizations to defend him in case of any attempt to remove him from office.

Samper, Maduro, and Rafael Correa in an UNASUR meeting in December 2014
Samper, Maduro, and Rafael Correa in an UNASUR meeting in December 2014. (Cancillería Ecuador)

But Maduro’s plea, far from being intended to curb an unlikely intervention by the United States, is a move to link any attempt to broker a process of democratic change in Venezuela with a fictitious foreign plot backed by Washington. In other words, Maduro is looking to confuse.

And in Latin America, such conspiracy theories, although based on regrettable past events, are very effective. The only thing that keeps so-called 21st-century socialist governments in power, particularly in Cuba, is anti-US rhetoric.

This hatred for the United States, often thinly disguising crude envy over the wealth that US society has been able to create, has long provided an excuse as to why Latin America has failed to produce wealthy societies and consolidate effective states.

In fact, these two organizations, CELAC and UNASUR, have the institutionalized rejection of the US presence in the region as their constitutive justification. They were created, and exist, solely to denounce US “imperialism.”

As a result, they are useless instruments for the fulfillment of goals such as poverty reduction or regional economic integration, but useful for the perpetuation of misguided policies. They also serve as a handy support group for embattled leaders looking to find friends in any quarter.

But the support offered by UNASUR and CELAC to the Venezuelan regime raises serious questions. Why should citizens pay taxes to support international organization that fail to serve our interests as individuals, but instead support petty demagogues whose sole intention is to graduate to fully fledged tyrants?

As if that weren’t enough, with the appointment of Ernesto Samper as its secretary general, UNASUR has become a haven for shady characters with unsavory relationships with criminal groups.

Samper was appointed because the Colombian former president is a known devotee of failed statism, and a high priest in the cult of hatred of the United States. Was there no one else who, even if they had questionable beliefs, was free from ties to known drug traffickers?

The appointment of such a character shows that not even proximity to organized crime has political costs in Latin America. On the contrary, this is rewarded, provided the person belongs to the correct political camp.

Not to mention the location of UNASUR headquarters in Ecuador, a country whose president, Rafael Correa, is a proven persecutor of free speech, and the current CELAC president.

Yet the tragedy is that the US inadvertently gives ammunition to Maduro, Correa, and their ilk. The recent announcement of fresh sanctions by President Barack Obama’s administration against Venezuelan officials is a doomed policy which only plays into the anti-imperialists’ hands.

The move only shows that the United States is still yet to learn that democracy can’t be imposed or created by force, and that sanctions are useless to create democracy. Instead, it gives demagogues and despots a tool to blame their countries’ dire economic failures on external pressure rather than their own misguided policy.

As a result, despite aiming to foster democracy, the US government drives Latin Americans into the arms of behemoths such as CELAC and UNASUR, to say nothing of the lousy leaders that whip up anti-US sentiment to win votes. Thus the cycle continues, while we remain further than ever from genuine freedom.

Translated by Rebeca Morla.

Javier Garay Javier Garay

Javier Garay is a professor at the Externado University of Colombia. He has written two books on international issues, such as development, after his doctoral dissertation focused on the same topic. Follow him on Twitter @crittiko and through his personal blog, Crittiko.