................. This neomilitarism is characterized by a profound hostility to democratic society and to an open economy. It also seems to have a pronounced populist accent and a dangerous dose of communist infiltration. In essence, it represents the popular dissatisfaction with democratic policy in Latin America.
The paradox is that this doesn't seem to worry the United States. Of course, that's historically typical - more so now, because after Sept. 11, American foreign policy seems to be based exclusively on national security criteria. If in the past, Washington was not bothered by Somoza, Trujillo, and Duvalier, why should it be bothered now by Chávez, Gutierrez, or whoever else might come along?***
In Pierre's view, Caribbean leaders who fail to condemn evil in their own neighborhood become ''collaborators, in effect,'' with Castro.
''When Castro can do a thing like that and not have anybody come down on him, he can be encouraged to even greater excesses,'' Pierre said. ``We must tell our friends when they are good and we must tell them when they are wrong.''
''Sometimes, there's a respect for Cuba in this part of the world because it stands up against the United States,'' Joel Simon, the acting director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, told me. ``But that's no excuse.''
Days before the UNESCO-sponsored conference, members of the United Nations voted Cuba back onto its human-rights committee, giving a perverse legitimacy to the region's hypocrisy on Cuba. The failure to condemn Castro ultimately reflects an unhealthy characteristic in many developing countries: political leaders and well-connected ''elites'' who define themselves not by what they support -- but by what they oppose.
In Jamaica, many university-educated elites promote a 1970s leftist worldview and pontificate endlessly about the evils supposedly perpetrated by U.S. foreign policy. Yet they often seem loath to discuss the grim day-to-day realities of ordinary Jamaicans: an unacceptably high level of extra-judicial police killings, rampant crime and a lack of decent jobs and public services.
After the Sept. 11 terror attacks, President Bush took the moral high road, declaring that the world's leaders must decide whether they are with the terrorists or against them, and not equivocate on the issue.
Caribbean leaders and intellectuals would do well to consider that advice -- for the sake of Raúl Rivero and other pro-democracy activists and journalists rotting in Cuba's jails. ***