News Release

Bush’s Latin America Trip: Interviews Available

LARRY BIRNS and ALEX VOLBERDING
Birns is director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and Volberding is a research fellow there. Birns said today: “Bush’s trip is more about ginning up enthusiasm for the ‘war on terrorism’ and the ‘drug war’ than aimed at promoting meaningful progress at democratization and human rights. Bush’s heralded $5 billion in aid carries stiff conditions mandating that recipient countries accept the Treasury Department’s economic game plan and is almost insignificant given the magnitude of world poverty — over 40 percent of the population of Latin America lives below the poverty line…. Bush’s call to remove restrictions on military aid to Colombia despite human rights abuses by its armed forces undermines efforts to restore democracy in Colombia; it also serves to remove the firewall which authorized U.S. forces to fight against drug producers and traffickers, but not against the leftist guerrillas.”
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RICHARD CLINTON
Professor of political science at Oregon State University and a specialist in Latin American affairs, Clinton said today: “Bush is pushing privatization and shrinking government, but this will increase inequality and make the local oligarchies stronger…. It’s telling that Otto Reich, who ran disinformation campaigns for the Reagan administration, has been put in as Assistant Secretary of State for Latin American Affairs.”

JACQUELINE DOWNING
Bush declared yesterday that if you sponsor terrorists “you’re just as guilty as the terrorists themselves.” A member of the advisory group to School of the Americas Watch, Downing said today: “Bush doesn’t need to go to Latin America to find sponsors of terrorists. He could start in Georgia at the School of the Americas [now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation]. It has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers and policemen. Among its graduates are many of the continent’s most notorious torturers, mass murderers, dictators and state terrorists.”
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CARLOS SALINAS
Vocalist for the band Blowback and former director of government relations for Amnesty International, Salinas said today: “If Bush is trying to accomplish more of the same U.S. policy of unfettered corporate globalization as well as his tired old pump-priming of perpetual war, he shouldn’t bother. Latin Americans don’t want it. Latin Americans know better than perhaps most people that the U.S. government is one of the biggest sponsors of terrorism.”
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PHILLIP WARF
Bush is announcing increases in U.S. foreign aid spending. Warf is a research associate with the Program on International Policy Attitudes and contributor to the report “Americans on Foreign Aid and World Hunger.” He said today: “When we asked people in the U.S. what percent of the federal budget goes to foreign aid, their median estimate was 20 percent. When asked what they think an appropriate percentage would be, the median response was 10 percent. When they are told that, in fact, foreign aid is about 1 percent of the federal budget, only 13 percent of them thinks that’s too much.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020