The Guardian 14 June, 2006
US interventionism defeated at OAS General Assembly
How the mighty have fallen!
It’s classically typical of the George W Bush administration — more lost than a homeless dog. One has only to look at what happened to the Under Secretary of State in the Dominican Republic this past week.
Robert Zoellick, leading his country’s delegation, arrived ill-prepared at the 36th General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in Santo Domingo. One would assume that a delegation leader would come to such events after thoroughly consulting with State Department experts. Not so.
Perhaps the issue is the OAS. Gringo proconsuls have traditionally attended the forum as if they were wearing the headdress of an arrogant Catholic archbishop. They would arrive and preach and the servile flock would genuflect and vote in line with orders from the Vatican in Washington. Once the farce was concluded, masters and slaves would retire to sip cocktails in the gringo’s suite.
Things have changed. These days, Zoellick would barely say mass.
Nobody is following his orders. Deaf ears to silly words.
Perhaps it is because, in holding on to the last vestiges of their ignorant arrogance, Bush and company have not yet grasped our irreversible political changes. Our America is no longer the backyard of the White House. Period!
Perhaps it is because the State Department did not have the decency to warn the Under Secretary that Washington’s negligence has cost it the miniscule support that it used to have in the hemisphere. Now Bush is as popular as a homeless dog.
Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. One could speculate ad nauseum. The reality is that Zoellick underestimated the intelligence and determination of delegates not to let themselves be trampled over by imperialist political manoeuvres.
During his speech, Zoellick made a fool of himself, thus confirming Washington’s abysmal ignorance regarding hemispheric issues and international diplomacy. The gringo agenda began to collapse with a loud crash when Zoellick wrongly assumed that Brazil and Argentina would block Venezuela’s entry onto the UN Security Council. That backfired. Both nations announced their unconditional support for Venezuela’s candidacy.
Zoellick also underestimated the hemisphere’s diplomats when he urged a condemnation of Venezuela. He accused President Hugo Chávez of interfering in the Peruvian elections. The forum categorically rejected Zoellick’s nonsense. When they got no support, Zoellick and Peru withdrew their accusations. Ironically, the OAS refusal represents a resounding and unequivocal slap in the face to Washington’s crude interventionism in the hemisphere.
Desperate after these defeats, Zoellick tried to convince Brazil, Argentina and other nations to criticise President Chávez’s "illusion of populism" and his influence in the hemisphere. Very stupid. Zoellick crashed against a solid wall of opposition.
In unmistakable and direct diplomatic language, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Marín reminded Zoellick of "the importance of non-intervention". Marín’s statement made it clear that the OAS is not going to meddle in Venezuela’s internal affairs.
That was confirmed by the final resolution, which condemned all foreign intervention in the hemisphere. Without mentioning any particular country, the resolution is a subtle but obvious criticism of Washington’s interventionism in Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua.
Zoellick’s audacity was further unmasked. The Under Secretary of State demanded that that OAS send "as soon as possible" an observer mission to Nicaragua to prevent the "old strongmen of corruption and communism who want to stay in power". According to Zoellick, Nicaragua needs "justice, transparency and direct and clear reports" regarding the upcoming November elections, when that Central American nation will elect its President and General Assembly representatives.
One of two possibilities — either the State Department misinformed Zoellick before he travelled to the Dominican Republic, or he was drunk when he made his demands. In a press conference in Managua, Patricio Fajardo, coordinator of the 33-member OAS election observer mission, stated last week that a group of eight technicians had been in Nicaragua since May 7 to monitor the elections. The head of the mission, Gustavo Fernández, also arrived there last week, accompanied by OAS special advisors; Nina Pacari, former Ecuadorian Foreign Minister; Ignacio Waker, of Chile; and Ana María Sanjuán, of Venezuela.
Zoellick is not stupid. Nor is he ignorant of the OAS initiative supported by Nicaraguan political parties for the presidential elections. Zoellick is perverse. Only an imprudent individual would to try to mislead the OAS regarding the organisation’s activities. However, Zoellick’s imbecility is based on the obsession of the White House of denying victory to the Sandinista Party in the presidential elections.
For more than a year, Bush has been sending high-ranking diplomats to Nicaragua. He began with former Secretary of State Colin Powell, followed by two dozen bureaucrats bent on advocating the political unity of the opposition parties, destabilisation of the Front (Sandinista National Liberation Front — FSLN), and Nicaraguan democracy.
With that aim, Paul Trivelli, current US ambassador in Managua, has been meeting night and day with the opposition; has published articles against Daniel Ortega in Nicaraguan dailies, and has appeared on television as part of the disgusting campaign to grossly insult the Sandinista Party and the Nicaraguan people. None of it has done him any good. On the contrary: instead of bringing together the traitors and bootlickers of the opposition, the only thing he has achieved is to divide them even further into individual power-seekers.
Every candidate, no matter how good-for-nothing, is suffering from the Bush complex. He or she trusts that Washington’s political and financial support will assure him or her of the coveted presidency independent of other insignificant opposition leaders or unity of purpose against their formidable rival.
As a result of Trivelli’s interventionism, the opposition has become weaker, while it would seem that the Front, with its greater discipline and superior organisational capacity, could win the elections, including the presidency and the General Assembly. In effect, Trivelli’s failure has given the White House another Olympic-sized nightmare.
Last week, it was rumoured in Managua that Bush, disappointed over the failure, is to replace Trivelli with John Maisto, a mafioso trusted by the White House and a former ambassador in Managua. The conspirators were too late. Not even the Cardinal will save them this time; in fact, he himself has made a 180-degree turn, and is supporting Ortega’s candidacy.
In short, Bush, Zoellick, Trivelli and the rest of Washington’s pack of imbeciles lack the moral authority to cynically demand that other nations refrain from the interventionism that the White House has made into the axis of its foreign policy. Bush’s interventionism is as transparent, vile and brazen in Nicaragua as its interventionism and attacks to destabilise and overthrow the legitimate governments of Presidents Fidel Castro in Cuba, Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Evo Morales in Bolivia.
The culmination of Washington’s cynicism was revealed during the 36th General Assembly of the Organisation of American States that has just concluded in the Dominican Republic. Zoellick arrived with the single and evil purpose of accusing Venezuela of meddling in Peru’s affairs. He didn’t succeed. The hemisphere rejected him, and he left the forum as he deserved to — humiliated. Like a trouble-making street dog, with his tail between his legs, and dragging along to Washington the exposed shamefulness of White House interventionism in Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia, together with a resounding and unequivocal message that the community of Our America is no longer bending to Yankee hegemony.
* Pastor Valle Garay was the former Nicaraguan Consul General to Canada
and is now a scholar at York University in Toronto.