The U.S. in the past has had two fundamental
mechanisms for controlling Latin America: one is violence, the
other is economic strangulation. They're both weakening.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Now remember, the U.S. is a global
power, so you can't just look at one region. You have to
look at what's going on everywhere. So if we go back, say,
to the last intelligence projection of the Clinton
administration, National Intelligence Council, year 2000,
their projection for the next 15 years, they -- just keeping
to energy, but there's a lot more. They took it as a matter
of course that the United States would control Middle East
oil. They don't discuss that much. And then they say the
United States, though it will control Middle East oil,
because that’s a lever of world control, nevertheless it,
itself, will rely on what were called more stable Atlantic
Basin resources, meaning West African dictatorships and the
western hemisphere. That's what the U.S. will rely on.
Well, what's been going on in Latin America since then
significantly threatens that. For the first time in its
history, first time since the Spanish colonization, Latin
America is moving towards a degree of independence and also
a degree of integration. The history of Latin America --
Latin America is very sharply split between a tiny rich
elite and huge poverty, and the rich elite have been the
only active ones politically. They were oriented towards the
colonial power. So that's where they ship their capital.
That's where they have their second wealthy homes, you know,
send their kids to school, this whole business. Very little
integration internal to Latin America. I mean, even the
transportation system shows that. It's beginning to change.
They are moving towards a degree of independence and towards
a degree of integration.
And the United States is terrified. Just keeping to oil
alone, it means that the energy resources -- I mean, the
major energy producer in the hemisphere is Venezuela. The
U.S. kicked the British out under Wilson, Woodrow Wilson.
It’s known as Wilsonian idealism. They kicked the British
out as soon as the oil age began, because they knew that
Venezuela had enormous oil resources. That meant supporting
a bunch of utterly brutal dictators, while Venezuela became
by 1928 the leading oil exporter in the world. It’s remained
very high. Venezuela is now going towards independence, and
the United States is frantic. That's why you have this
hysteria about Chavez. It’s not because he's attacking
anyone or anything like. It's hysteria because he's not
following orders. It’s kind of like Serbia, but much more
serious, because this is a big energy producer.
Furthermore, it influences others. The major energy
producer in South America second to Venezuela is Bolivia.
Well, you know what just happened there. They're moving
towards independence, as well. And, in fact, the whole
region from Venezuela down to Argentina is pretty much out
of control, not totally, but pretty much.
The U.S. in the past has had two fundamental mechanisms
for controlling Latin America: one is violence, the other is
economic strangulation. They're both weakening. The last
exercise of violence was in the year 2002, when in its
dedication to democracy promotion the U.S. supported a
military coup to overthrow the elected government of
Venezuela. Well, had to back down, for one thing, because
there was a popular uprising in Venezuela. But another
reason was just the reaction in Latin America, where
democracy is taken a lot more seriously than it is in North
America and Europe and people don't think it's amusing
anymore to have elected governments overthrown by a military
coup. So the U.S. had to back down and turn to subversion
instead, which is what’s going on now. That's the last major
use of violence.
And so, the U.S. is preparing for more use of violence.
If you take a look at the number of U.S. military personnel
throughout Latin America, the military bases, the training
of Latin American officers, that's all going up very
sharply. In fact, for the first time ever, there are now
more U.S. military personnel in Latin America than personnel
for the major federal aid organizations. That never happened
during the Cold War. Also military training for Latin
American officers, and you know what that means.
Military training is being shifted from the State
Department to the Pentagon. That's important. The State
Department is under congressional supervision, and there are
conditionalities, human rights and democracy
conditionalities. They're not imposed very much, but they're
there, you know, and they have some effect. You switch it to
the Pentagon, there's no controls. Do whatever you want. And
the whole region is surrounded by bases, and I suspect there
will be secessionist movements coming along in Venezuela and
Bolivia and possibly Iran. So the military option has by no
means been abandoned, but it’s nothing like what it was
before. I mean, in the past, you just overthrew governments,
you know, didn't think twice about it.
As for the economic option, that's being lost, too. The
most dramatic case, perhaps, was Argentina. Argentina was
the poster child for the IMF. And following IMF rules, it
led to the worst economic disaster in its history, totally
collapsed. Then, violating IMF rules radically, they pulled
out of it and have had rapid growth. And the international
investing community and the IMF, which is a branch of the
Treasury Department, couldn't do anything about it, even the
refusal to pay debt. And Argentina -- in fact, the president
of Argentina said, ‘Well, we're ridding ourselves of the IMF.’
That means of U.S. economic strangulation. And worse, he was
helped in that by Venezuela, which bought a large part of
the debt. Bolivia is probably doing the same. Brazil had
already done it. Well, you know, you rid yourself of the IMF,
meaning the Treasury Department, that's seriously weakening
the measures of economic strangulation.
And it's worse. A lot of these policies are gaining
significant popular appeal. Just read a scholarly paper by a
very anti-Castro Cuban American scholar, who reports -- I
don't know where he got it from, but he said about 170,000
Latin Americans have been, in the last couple years, have
been treated in Cuban medical facilities, and most of them
restoring sight under Cuban-Venezuelan programs, where
Venezuela pays for it and people -- blind people, others who
need medical care in the U.S. dependencies, where they can't
get it, of course -- are sent to Cuba, where they come back
seeing. They were blind. You know, okay, that has its
effects on countries. Called Operation Miracle.
And within Venezuela, as far as -- you can like it or
hate it, but the interesting question is what Venezuelans
think about it. Okay, well, a good knowledge of that.
There's extensive polls taken, Latin American and North
American polls. It turns out that the popularity of the
government has shot way up in the last -- since 1998, and it
now is the most popular elected government in Latin America;
in fact, in the hemisphere, because this government is not
popular. So it's the most popular elected government in
Latin America, and it keeps going up. Well, reasons not too
obscure, but, sure, it's driving the United States berserk.
That's why you have the constant hysteria from the
government and the media about the terrible things in
Venezuela and Bolivia.