Skip to comments.How the U.S. Put Latin America Up for Grabs
Posted on 04/05/2014 1:52:01 PM PDT by Kaslin
TAMARINDO, COSTA RICA Im not about to pretend that spending a few days in this rather funky little surfing village on the Pacific has given me great insights into Latin Americas current political, economic and social reality. On the other hand, if one keeps an open mind -- and a not excessively open mouth -- one generally learns something.
Based on the evidence Ive been able to gather, Costa Ricans or Ticans as they refer to themselves deserve the reputation they enjoy as friendly, good-natured and peaceable. The national slogan here is pura vida, literally "pure life," but it is also used with great frequency -- to mean alls well and life is good and no problem!
Google Costa Rica and "news" and youre not likely to come up with much of the latter. As Im writing this, the top item in the Tico Times announces: "Costa Rican officials hope to break the all-time attendance record for an Under-17 Womens World Cup. Azerbaijan set the record with 151,066 spectators, and Costa Rica is slightly off pace of that number."
Whatever the outcome of that competition, Costa Rica is a winner by other criteria. For example, 96% of the countrys population just shy of 5 million -- is literate. And Ticans enjoy far more freedom and democracy than most people in Latin America or the Middle East, Asia and Africa for that matter.
No terrorist groups or drug cartels lurk in the nations mountains and rain forests. One can, however, find big cats, two- and three-toed sloths, a variety of monkeys, and over 840 species of birds including the Bare-necked Umbrellabird, the Resplendent Quetzal and the Keel-billed Toucan. Costa Ricas spiny-tailed iguana is the worlds fastest running lizard. (You guys in Azerbaijan got any reptiles to match that? I didnt think so.)
People here seem to know they have it better than most people in what we hopefully call the developing world. Their mixed economy -- based on tourism, coffee, bananas, sugar and beef -- provides a per capita GDP nearly three times higher than in Sandinista-ruled Nicaragua to the north. For what its worth, Costa Rica is in the number 12 spot -- higher than many much wealthier countries -- on the "Satisfaction with Life Index."
Costa Rican politics is a tad unusual: In February, elections were held. The two more left-wing parties did not win enough voters to qualify for the runoff which is scheduled for April 6. The presidential candidates will be Johnny Araya Monge of the ruling National Liberation Party, and Luis Guillermo Solis Rivera of the center-left Citizens Action Party.
Ticans are on the edge of their seats awaiting the outcome. Well, actually, they arent. After reading the polls, Sr. Araya concluded he hasnt a gelatos chance in a tropical rain forest. So, last month he announced that he would not waste any time, energy or money campaigning. Though his name will remain on the ballot, his opponent can confidently order rum for the victory celebration.
Ive met no one here who does not grimace when I ask about Cuba and Venezuela. They understand as too many in Hollywood, Berkeley and Manhattan do not -- that Castros revolution entrenched poverty and increased oppression. And they are acutely aware of the damage the late Hugo Chavez did to Venezuela.
For more than two months now, Venezuelans have taken to the streets in protest with at least 39 people killed so far. The White House has barely reacted. In congressional testimony last week, Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, concluded that the Obama administration has systematically disengaged from Latin America.
At the same time, three significant strategic actors have been advancing in the region. Care to guess who those might be? Right the first time: Russia, Iran and China -- that dodgy alliance (axis?) of ambitious, anti-American autocracies.
Russia is planning to open new military bases in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, which Berman sees as part of its drive to expand its military activities in the Western Hemisphere, to include long-range missions by its combat aircraft. To what end? To defend Russian speakers in Guatamala?
Iran, according to intrepid Argentine state prosecutor Alberto Nisman, maintains a continent-wide network of intelligence bases and logistical support centers spanning no fewer than eight countries. Nisman is certain that these bases and centers helped facilitate the terrorist bombing of the AMIA Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires in 1984 and that they remain operational today. Hezbollah, Irans proxy, is entrenched in the so-called "Triple Frontier" where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet.
Berman says Iran also is working with several Latin American countries to obtain uranium and other strategic minerals useful for making nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
As for China, its interests in the region appear to be primarily economic at the moment. But China has become a contributor to Argentina's nuclear program.
Whats happening here is not just significant, its historic: As Berman reminded Congress, in 1823 President James Monroe warned foreign powers against intervention in Latin America whose political independence America would henceforth preserve and protect. That statement, which came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine, became a lasting guidepost for U.S. policy toward the Americas.
Lasting, that is, till last fall when Secretary of State John Kerry announced with great fanfare that the era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.
Did it occur to no one at the State Department that Iran, Russia and China would interpret that not merely as the Obama administration once again apologizing for past U.S. behavior, but also as a bugle blowing U.S. retreat and signaling that Latin America is now up for grabs?
If Mr. Kerry doesnt comprehend the danger that poses, he needs to spend more time south of the border. Even a week on a sun-washed Costa Rican beach can be edifying.
Bad things happen when you declare the Monroe Doctrine to be “over”.
Makes me wonder if this was another bird brained off the cuff remark by Kerry or was he spouting a line provided for him by Valerie Jarrett?
It would not surprise me.
Step by step, the deconstruction of America by the Obama Regime. South and Central America are far more important to us than North Africa, the Middle East, etc. and yet, we care not what is happening on our own doorstep.
Costa Rica is a fortunate country. But what happens if some of those cloned velociraptors escape from the island off the coast and make it to the mainland?