Dear colleague, below is an almost quite "politically incorrect" opinion on President Obama's first 100 days on Latin America policy. I hope to hear from you! Please, press the "Reply" button and send your valuable opinion, subscr. & remove options etc. Let's talk! Let's discuss if necessary! (but always respectfully, of course). My English is not good, but I tried to do my best to translate this article from Spanish. Sincerely yours, Felipe Alvear Donoso, political science student, University of Chile.

Destaque Internacional - Informes de Coyuntura - Año XII - No. 275 - San José - 21 de abril de 2009 - Responsable: Javier González.

The Obama-Lula "Axis" and the Future of Latin America

President Obama, in the opening phase of his Latin America policy, seems to have chosen ill-advised roads: a handshake with the most radical leaders of the left, and confidence in a "useful moderate," Brazil's President Lula, who is dedicated to placing fashionable garments on those radical leaders

1. The recent Summit of the Americas, held April 18-19 in Port-of-Spain in Trinidad and Tobago, served to consolidate the recent but already close relations between President Obama of the United States and President Lula of Brazil, from which a new and enigmatic continental joint leadership is emerging.

2. At the Summit Obama was lavish in handshakes, hugs, gestures and words with the leaders of the Latin-American radical left, and also extended his hand to the Communist dictatorship of Cuba, coming to offer it "a new beginning." The scenes in which the American president was the star in Port-of-Spain turned out to be shocking, for all that it signified with regard to the collapse of psychological "walls" in the natural refusal by the Latin-American public of the Castro regime and the authoritarian governments of Chávez in Venezuela, Correa in Ecuador, and Morales in Bolivia; and also for what it signified in the discouragement and weakening of the respective opposing forces, which in those countries endeavor, under extremely adverse circumstances, to preserve their liberties.

3. But the responsibility for the psychological diluting of those "walls" of rejection against the radical left was not only that of Obama. In fact, as various analysts recognized, behind the scenes it was President Lula who acted very intensely, carrying forward a "hidden diplomacy," acting as a "counterpart" of Obama and trying to legitimize his role as "unofficial mediator" between the United States, on the one hand, and Communist Cuba along with the group of Latin-American governments of the far left, on the other hand.

4. The intimate relation between both presidents began last March 14, only a few days after Obama assumed the presidency of his country. Lula was the first Latin-American president received by the president of the United States, in a gesture of indisputably important deference. For the execution of the meeting they chose a Saturday, so that the conversations between both could take place without the normal restrictions of schedules required by weekday protocols. The mutual compliments and the warm personal relationship established between both presidents were highlighted by the mass media.

Shortly after the presidential meeting, while still on American territory, Lula publicly played his cards by making an incredible allegation in favor of Communist Cuba, affirming that nothing exists, from the point of view "of human rationality," that would prevent the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba.

In London, last April 3, during the meeting of the G-20, Obama took advantage of the occasion to promote his continental joint leadership with Lula when he said in a circle of heads of state, between smiles and handshakes: "Here is my champion, I love this fellow, he is the most popular politician in the world."

On the eve of the Summit of the Americas, Obama spoke by telephone with Lula to coordinate positions and to hear suggestions, before which the Brazilian president took advantage of the moment to urge him to yield as much as possible with regard to Communist Cuba. Before getting onto the plane that would take him to Trinidad and Tobago, in an interview with CNN, Obama emphasized his close collaboration with Lula as an example of the "new era" that was opening up between the United States and Latin America.

5. The inescapable question is where this political "axis" established between Obama and Lula will be able to lead Latin America. The first results, to judge from what occurred during the Summit of the Americas, are very worrisome.

Obama, in his policy toward Latin America, sadly seems to have chosen ill-advised paths that do not augur good things to come: the rapprochement with the most radical leaders of the left and confidence in the mediation of a "useful moderate," President Lula, who, just as we have shown in numerous editorials, is dedicated to placing fashionable garments on the excesses of those radical leaders, as well as to soften the reactions of the various political oppositions and to discourage them. Will we be witnessing a repeat of old policies of surrendering in order not to lose?

6. In addition to the above, one's attention is drawn to the apathy and even the indifference with which sectors of the center and the right of Latin-American and American public opinion and even of exiles from Miami follow those gigantic transformations, rotations and political contradictions on a continental level, without raising cries or, at least, reactions appropriate to the occasion.

Certain events that occurred at the Summit of the Americas itself serve to illustrate the dimensions of that apathy. For example, during the event several of the thirty-five government officials spoke against the American foreign "embargo" without referring, even in passing, to the cause of the problem, which is the internal "embargo" of the Communist state that already marks half a century. Therefore not even a single president dotted the i's. The Summit of the Americas, in its entirety, collaborated in this way with a terrible "foreign embargo" of which very few speak, which is the negation of moral solidarity and of Christian compassion with regard to twelve million Cuban brothers, unhappy victims of Communism for fifty years.

In those same days of the Summit, Fidel Castro wrote that the concessions of Obama were insufficient, because the central problem would be the American "cruel embargo," and few in Latin America rose up to recall that Castro should see the beam in its own eye, because his regime is the living example of the greatest cruelties in Cuba and also on the continent, through the guerrilla movements inspired and led from Havana.

7. It is difficult to understand how all this may be occurring without anyone's raising a proportionate cry of indignation. Destaque Internacional has addressed the problems of apathy and of collective psychological anesthesia that are affecting vast leadership sectors of the population. A study recently published in the digital edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), shows an interesting relation between the speed with which the digital media transmit the numerous current events, and the apathy and lack of compassion that are produced by the incapacity to digest that maelstrom of events. To identify and characterize the phenomena of apathy, indifference and psychological anesthesia is already to travel halfway toward finding its causes and reversing them.