Obama: Cuba as Trade-off for Argentina and Venezuela

February 18, 2016


images (2)In March, Barack Obama will visit Cuba, and then Argentina to meet with its new president, Mauricio Macri. Obama will receive a very friendly welcome in Cuba. He is the first president of the US to declare officially the failure of the US policy of economic strangulation; his actions have permitted US (and third-country) businesses to push for commercial links, and allowed tourists in the people-to-people format to learn about Cuba in person.

This week, Gallup announced that for the first time in its tracking of opinion about Cuba a majority in the US sees Cuba favorably.

The historic about-face responds also to the demand of the nations of Celac –and indeed the world– to lift the blockade. The blockade, codified as federal law, remains in place until Congress acts, which is not likely to happen during this election year.

The trip to Cuba will also provide cover for US plans for Argentina. Its new president, Mauricio Macri, who won by a slim margin –51.34 to 48.66 percent– has moved quickly and often ham-fistedly to do away with the era of the Kirchners. A massive layoff of government employees was implemented immediately. The new ministers of state are officers of large corporations. Macri proposed to resolve pending litigation brought by vulture funds by offering to the latter terms so generous that Argentina would have to seek major financing from the IMF, thus making the nation indebted again to the IMF. The Kirchners were keen to break away from the former dependence on that organization. Macri wants to improve relations with the UK, but without mentioning the sovereignty of the Malvinas.

Even before he was elected, Macri was pushing to void Venezuela’s membership in Mercosur. He was ignored by other members and had to back off, but he had made his point: he was glad to do what the US wanted him to do.

A White House release concerning the trip stated:

In Buenos Aires, the President and First Family will meet with the new Argentine President, Mauricio Macri, to discuss President Macri’s reform agenda and recognize his contributions to the defense of human rights in the region. The President will deepen efforts to increase cooperation between our governments in a range of areas, including trade and investment, renewable energy and climate change, and citizen security.

Translation: Macri joined the campaign to release from jail violent opponents of the Venezuelan government who, unable to win in elections, set loose destructive riots in several cities, resulting in 43 deaths and some 800 people hurt. Their actions –conspiracy to overthrow the elected government by force–, were such that if taken in the US by extremist groups would land the perpetrators in solitary for life, if not handed the death sentence. In addition, US corporations have their eyes on the bountiful natural and humans resources of Argentina.

In October 2015, President Obama defended by name Lorenzo Mendoza, billionaire owner (690th on the Forbes list) of Polar, the largest food company in Venezuela. Security officers had recorded a conversation between him and Ricardo Hausmann, ex-economist at the IADB, former Venezuelan minister, ex-president of Venezuela’s Central Bank, current Director of the Center for International Development and professor at Harvard. He told Mendoza that he was in contact with people at IMF to arrange a loan of $40 billion for when the government were ousted. Mendoza was enthusiastic about the plan. Obama saw the conspiracy as merely free expression. What would Obama do if he found out that well-placed operators were planning to negotiate a loan of, say, $1,000 billion dollars, from the New Development Bank headed by the BRICS, to be paid once the US government were overthrown?

“America will always stand for human rights around the world,” said Obama in relation to the trip, balancing Cuba (bad, in his view) and Argentina (good, in his view). That statement does not apply, however, to countries like Saudi Arabia or Honduras. Nor has the president defended the human rights of the peoples of the several countries that the US has invaded and destroyed, directly or through proxies, such as Libya and, currently, Syria. It seems that human rights are seldom at issue in countries that align with the US, and that both Democrats and Republicans favor governments of the Right in other countries.

Argentina now has a neoliberal US-aligned Executive power. Venezuela has a neoliberal US-aligned Legislative power. If the two very important countries can be moved entirely to the Right, the US will have achieved a major victory for its corporations and increased its military influence on the continent.

Smaller countries are also targeted. Evo Morales revealed this week that personnel of the US embassy in Bolivia had been meeting with local opponents to plan ways to block a new term for Morales. Ecuador faces continuing attacks on its popular government. This is not fanciful speculation: the justification of the annual budget of the US mentions these countries specifically as targets for regime-change operations. Cuba is also named.

Obama will go down in history as the president who began to undo the blockade. He deserves that recognition. He may also be credited as the president who used a trip to socialist Cuba to advance neoliberalism on the rest of the Continent.



Source: La Alborada