Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington and president of Just Foreign Policy, talked about how U.S. interventionism has been toppling left-wing governments in Latin America as part of their foreign policy, and how they continue to do so from Mexico to Argentina.
Speaking with Greg Wilpert of The Real news Network, Weisbrot noted how the U.S. interventionism has undermined left-wing and progressive governments in Latin America in favor of others friendlier to Washington's economic and political policy.
The rise of left-wing and center-left governments in Latin America at the turn of the century brought a period of prosperity and sovereignty to the region, but that trend is now threatened as they have been displaced little by little.
“If you look at the region as a whole, the poverty rate dropped from 44 to 28 percent. That was from around 2003-2013. And that was after the two decades prior where poverty had actually increased, there was no progress at all,” said Weisbrot in interview with Wilpert.
“You know, every country did different things to help bring healthcare, and increase, in some countries, education, access to education. And there were a whole lot of reforms. Changes in macroeconomic policy. Getting rid of the IMF,” he said.
But that has changed in recent years, and sometimes with direct U.S. intervention. “The FBI, the Department of Justice contributed to the investigation that was instrumental in imprisoning Lula... That is, the investigation did end up decapitating the Workers' Party for now, first helping get rid of Dilma, but more importantly... they helped put Lula in prison and prevent him from running for office,” said Weisbrot.
And the list, according to Weisbrot, goes on and on.
In Paraguay, the U.S. and the Organization of American States helped to consolidate the parliamentary coup against President Fernando Lugo. In Honduras, Hillary Clinton acknowledged her role in making sure President Zelaya didn't return to office after being ousted by a military coup.
But media in the U.S. and the West tend to ignore these topics, creating a sense that U.S. interventionism in Latin America is no longer an real issue. “Nothing is really discussed in terms of U.S. intervention unless it's really a smoking gun, where they're caught red-handed in a way that nobody could deny,” said Weisbrot.
“So in Venezuela, for example, in 2002 when you had the coup, you had State Department and CIA documents which documented the involvement of the United States. They helped fund and train the people who did the coup, and they made statements following the coup that they knew were false in order to help the coup consolidate itself, and they failed in that case.”
But in the case of Haiti, for example, things ran in a different way. “In Haiti in 2004... they took the president and put him on a rendition plane, and flew him out of the country. That was in broad daylight.”
To Weisbrot, ignoring the fact that U.S. foreign policy actually affects the development of other States in the continent, is “like reporting on Ukraine and never mentioning Russia... and of course anybody knows they have an enormous influence.”
But interventionism doesn't stay in the past. In Mexico, the U.S. southern neighbor, the center-left candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO, is leading all the polls by a wide margin, and it's very unlikely that the one in the second place, right-wing Ricardo Anaya, can beat him.
Some in the U.S. are worried about AMLO becoming the president of Mexico, even though his politics can barely be dubbed as leftists. Even so, there are already accusation of Russia's financing, which Weisbrot calls “the new trend.”
And farther south in the continent, things are much worse. “In Venezuela they're doing something probably never done in the last 50 years, openly calling for a military coup, and actually a financial embargo they've put in place, and threatening even a worse embargo if they don't get rid of the current government,” says Weisbrot.
Even as Venezuela readies to hold elections in a few days, the U.S. and hardliner opposition say they won't recognize the results.
“But you have a credible opposition candidate who's leading in the polls, and they've reached agreement with the government on a set of procedures which are similar to almost all the other elections they've had for the last 20 years.” And in spite of that, the U.S. government says they don't want that, which could mean there's a more violent strategy waiting.