That scenario has materialized. With hundreds
of thousands of people dead and a military stalemate, both
of which could have easily been foreseen, finally Barack
Obama’s administration is
showing some flexibility toward meaningful negotiations,
strongly encouraged by many House Democrats. Why
couldn’t this have happened earlier?
Cables from U.S. diplomats in Latin America
shed a lot of light on U.S. policy in that region as well.
They show a consistent pattern of not only hostility but
action against left-wing governments, including those of
Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, Venezuela and others. The cables
see Venezuela as so influential that it is almost as if they
are talking about a new Soviet Union that must be contained.
plan to counter the political success of Venezuela’s
President Hugo Chávez (who died of cancer in 2013), outlined
in a 2006 cable by William Brownfield, the U.S. ambassador
to the country at the time, includes “penetrating Chavismo’s
political base,” “dividing Chavismo” and “isolating Chavez
internationally.” Other memos provide more details of how
this was attempted. For example, U.S. pressure was brought
to bear on countries as small and needy as Haiti, Honduras
and Jamaica to reject energy assistance from Venezuela that
would save them hundreds of millions of dollars.
The cables also show how Honduras, under
the government of President Manuel Zelaya, became an enemy
state for becoming too friendly with other left governments.
He was overthrown by the military in 2009, and it was
clear from the day of the coup, when the Obama
administration released a statement that did not oppose it,
which side Washington was on. Here WikiLeaks cables back up
what could be deduced at the time from public information.
recently released emails from then–Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton provide more detail on how the U.S.
government helped make sure that the democratically elected
president of Honduras did not return until after “elections”
— which almost all of Latin America refused to recognize —
were held under the de facto government.
All these formerly classified documents
help explain the intentions and strategy of the current
administration and how internally consistent it has remained
— with the exception of the historic deal with Iran — in so
many places. In Latin America, these documents help us
understand why the U.S. still refuses to accept an
ambassador from Venezuela, even after it has accepted an
ambassador from Cuba. These policies are consistent with one
another and with the past half century of U.S.–Latin
American relations. Whoever is making policy in the Obama
administration (it is
not that transparent) is still calculating that in
Venezuela the opposition can best be helped by attempting to
delegitimize the government, whereas in Cuba, opening
relations and commerce with the U.S. is seen as the better
bet. Not to deny the symbolic and historic significance of
the United States’ re-establishing diplomatic relations with
Cuba, but in both cases the goal remains the same: regime
Mark Weisbrot is a co-director of the
Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and
the president of
Just Foreign Policy. He is also the author of the
forthcoming book “Failed:
What the ‘Experts’ Got Wrong About the Global Economy.”