The Monroe Doctrine is Dead, as Latin America Breaks Free
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At the gathering, Bachelet took the leaders on a tour of the government palace, into the room where former president Salvador Allende committed suicide when a U.S.-backed coup against him took place in 1973. "The message was clear that this wasn't going to happen, that a democratically elected leader won't be forced from power in a violent coup while the rest of the region's leaders watch," says Laura Carlsen, a longtime Latin American political analyst and director of the Americas Program in Mexico City.
On September 16, just days after the U.S. ambassador was expelled from Bolivia, the Bush Administration announced that Bolivia had "failed demonstrably during the previous twelve months" to meet its "obligations under international counternarcotics agreements." On September 26, the Bush Administration made clear its plans to cancel Bolivia's participation in the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act because of its failure in counternarcotics efforts. The canceling of this trade act is expected to result in the unemployment of some 20,000 Bolivians. Ironically, many of these recently unemployment workers will now likely seek work in coca production as a way to make ends meet.
"As Bolivia's South American neighbors rallied in support of the Morales government at a crucial moment, the Bush Administration devoted its attention to castigating Bolivia for expelling the U.S. ambassador -- and ‘decertification' was the nearest weapon at hand," says a report from the Andean Information Network, a drug policy and human rights organization based in Cochabamba.
Morales responded by expelling the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency from the Chapare, a major coca-producing region in the country, and announcing plans to bolster trade with Venezuela to make up for the loss of the trade deal.
Other events over the past three years signal a shift away from Washington. The failure of neoliberalism in South America, and the subsequent rise of the new Latin American left, was clear at President George W. Bush's arrival at a regional summit for the Organization of American States in Mar de Plata, Argentina, in 2005, where soccer legend Diego Maradona told reporters, "I'm proud as an Argentine to repudiate the presence of this human trash, George Bush." The massive protests that greeted Bush were a physical manifestation of public sentiment bubbling under the surface of street protests and economic ministries across the hemisphere: that the Free Trade Area of the Americas, a plan promoted ardently by the Bush Administration, to extend NAFTA-style trade policy throughout the entire region, was dead.
In October of 2007, Ecuador's Correa announced that his administration would not renew Washington's lease on a U.S. airbase in Manta, Ecuador, unless Washington allowed Ecuador to open a military base in Miami (the U.S. refused). In March of 2008, when the Colombian military conducted a cross-border bombing into a camp of the guerrilla group Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in Ecuador, U.S. diplomats said Colombia was justified and should operate with flexibility in its "war on terrorism" across borders. But regional leaders condemned Colombia's actions and solved the tense conflict diplomatically without U.S. involvement.
Last April, the U.S. Navy announced it would revive its Fourth Fleet in the Caribbean. Venezuela responded in September by announcing joint naval exercises with Russia in the same area. Venezuela and Brazil are also leading plans to develop a NATO-like South American Defense Council. "I once said that if NATO exists -- the North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- why couldn't SATO exist? The South Atlantic Treaty Organization," Chávez said in a speech.
Then in Brazil in December, thirty-one Latin American and Caribbean leaders welcomed Cuba to the Summit of the Americas, which pointedly excluded Washington. "Cuba returns to where it always belonged," said Chávez. "We're complete." For good measure, participants at the summit roundly denounced the U.S. embargo of Cuba.