News Release

Bush in Latin America: A Hemisphere United?


President Bush is attending the Summit of the Americas in Argentina. The following policy analysts are available for interviews.

Cibils is a research associate with Centro Interdisciplinario para el Estudio de Politicas Publicas in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He said today: “Here in Argentina, there is a pretty strong opposition to Bush’s policies, especially the war on Iraq and also the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement. … Due to a very heavy debt service schedule, Argentina needs to refinance its debt with the IMF. The president of Argentina is expected to seek Bush’s help in that regard — and according to media reports here, Bush will ask for support for the FTAA and more distant relations with Venezuela in return. According to opinion polls, a majority of the public [in Argentina] supports Hugo Chavez, especially over Bush, and they are also opposed to the FTAA.”
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An economist and co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Weisbrot said today: “Latin America’s long-term economic failure is the major cause of the discontent at the Summit. The past 25 years have been the worst growth performance in modern Latin American history. For comparison: income per person grew by 82 percent from 1960-1980; from 1980-2000 it grew by only 9 percent, and for 2000-2005 it has only been 1 percent. It is nearly impossible to exaggerate the importance of an economic growth failure of this magnitude. This is the elephant sitting in the middle of the room at the Summit, and it is being ignored. … It is worth noting that the poverty we see today in Latin America is overwhelmingly a result of this growth failure…”
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Martinez is Latin America coordinator for the Sustainable Energy and Economy Network, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies. She is in Argentina at the Summit.

Cobble is an associate fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies. He has traveled recently with Rev. Jesse Jackson to Venezuela and earlier to Brazil. He said today: “Bush promised when he was running to be a uniter, not a divider. Domestically, all he has done is divide us with wedge issues and appointments. But in Latin America, he has kept his promise. He has united the entire hemisphere against his policies and his presidency.”

Birns is director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs based in Washington. Lettieri is a research associate with the organization. Birns said today: “The central preoccupation of the 2005 Summit will likely concern which vision for a sound and appropriate economic strategy has the widest currency in Latin America. When President Bush arrives in Mar del Plata he will find himself at odds with some of his counterparts who see the future differently. Washington has made no secret of its desire for free trade agreements with all of Latin America; however those assertions that free-trading policies have benefited the region are dubious at best, and in the run-up to the Summit, Argentina and Venezuela have been particularly vocal in disputing that claim.”
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Carlsen is the director of the Americas Program of the Interhemispheric Resource Center based in Mexico City. Barry is Policy Director for the International Relations Center. Carlsen wrote the recent article “Free Trade Agreements: Lessons in Latin America.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167