After a couple of weeks of threats against Colombia from economic blockade to war and his promise that he would show the world how dangerous Colombia’s agreement with the US is, not even his buddies, including the revolutionary ones, bought the story and despite the Dictator’s claim that he had achieved everything he wanted to, this was very far from the truth.
Chavez spent his time backing up his claims with an academic white paper that does not represent US policy but apparently Ms. Golinger sold to him and his advisers as the Rosetta stone on US strategies. But it was one of hundreds of such papers available over at the National Defense University website. Hell, as you can see on the top, just contact the staff if you want to add another white paper to the list.
In the end, there was no condemnation for the US-Colombia agreement, no mention of military bases and some, like Evo Morales and Chavez did not deliver on any of their threats that “if the agreement does not contain x,y, or z” they would not sign. None of their demands were included and they all signed.
I managed to watch bits of the Unasur meeting at lunch time and I think I watched the best highlights from everything I have read. From an overall point of view, it is clear that there is a fairly professional class of Presidents in South America led by Lula Da Silva, who appeared impatient and with better things to do. In the end he even said it, as he blasted Ecuador’s President Correa for giving a speech for the gallery and trying to grab the limelight.
But it is clear that Brazil, Chile and Argentina know well that the US is their main customer and they do not want to upset those relations, while they are getting tired of Hugo’s antics, jokes and “I am going to be brief” speeches. Lula reportedly convinced Chavez not to create a crisis, but this seems to be the story of Chavez’ life at these summits, someone convinces him to be the sheep he has always been when another President is in the same room.(Or when someone confronts him like February 1992 or April 2002)
Evo Morales was absolutely pitiful, blaming all but his haircut on US imperialism. Correa was clearly “on” lying once in a while to show us all what a great job he has done as President, but with little substance.
I was surprised at Alan Garcia, who gave a very in your face speech, essentially blasting everyone around for holding a summit on such a narrow topic. His best quip was to say something like ” While we all claim to love our people, we spent US$ 38 billion in weapons last year”. You had to love that one even if coming from a man which such a corrupt past. He also laughed at Chavez asking him why would the “US want to dominate your oil if you sell it all to them”. There were smirks and laughs all around the table and the snide by Garcia and Chavez’ defense after the meeting was equally pitiful, arguing that Venezuela does that because it has “10,000 gas stations and seven large refineries in the US”. Another fib by Chavez, who should know as Gustavo Coronel points out today that there are only three left (Hugo sold them!) and the 10,000 gas stations use CITGO gas and sign, but are independently owned. Moreover, Venezuela still exports more oil than even the seven original refineries used to ever consume.
Ms. Kitchner was her proper self, more concerned with the Summit being successful than saying anything with content. Ms. Bachelet had more substance than most, making more realistic and practical proposals with substance.
Uribe as usual held his ground, responding with facts and refusing to yield on Colombia’s right to reach an agreement with any country it wants. AS Correa criticized Colombia ‘s asylum of Carmona, Uribe snapped back, saying he could not compare a legal process that took place in his country with the fact that the top two leaders and terrorists of the FARC are currently in Venezuela and that information has been provided to the Venezuelan Government and nothing has been done.
In the end, I came away with the feeling that they were divided in three groups and only Peru, Chile and Colombia have given any serious thought to Latin American integration. Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia are trapped in blaming everything on the US and most of our countries are focused in their own problems and politics.
In the end, it was a waste of time, a step back for whatever Unasur wants to be and a clear demonstration that our fascist Dictator has fewer and fewer pieces of clothing and most of those at the Unasur meeting are tired of him.