News Release

Bush in Latin America: Major Issues · Trade · Chavez · Military Bases


Hector de la Cueva is director of the Center for Labor Research and Union Consultation (the Spanish acronym is CILAS). He said today: “Bush is in Latin America in part to promote ‘free trade,’ but this does not look good to most people in Mexico. Since NAFTA, wages have gone down in Mexico; there are fewer jobs and the jobs are worse. This has created a social disaster in Mexico. This is why you have so much migration to the U.S.; mainly from the countryside, but also from the cities. Now, they are talking about ‘NAFTA-plus,’ which will make things worse.

“Something like NAFTA is not ‘free trade.’ It’s not free and it’s not only about trade. It’s a super-national economic constitution. The big corporations and biggest companies make these rules for their benefit — and most people in the less developed countries become worse off.” Hector de la Cueva is on the council of the Hemispheric Social Alliance.
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Co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Weisbrot writes frequently about economic and political developments in Latin America. His most recent article is “President Bush’s Trip to Latin America Is All About Denial,” which states: “Latin America’s economic growth over the last 25 years has been a disaster — the worst long-term growth failure in more than a hundred years. From 1980-2000, GDP per person grew by only 9 percent, and another 4 percent for 2000-2005. Compare this to 82 percent for just the two decades from 1960-1980, and it is easy to see why candidates promising new economic policies have been elected (and some re-elected) in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay, and Venezuela. They also came close to winning in Mexico, Peru, and Costa Rica.”
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Author of numerous books including Social Movements and State Power: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Petras said today: “Bush’s visit to Latin American is an effort to recoup declining imperial influence by consolidating ties with both the rightist client regimes (Uribe in Colombia and Calderon in Mexico) and the pseudo ‘center-left’ neo-liberal regimes of Vazquez [in Uruguay] and Lula [in Brazil]. The purpose is to integrate these client regimes into the U.S. economic and diplomatic orbit and to construct an anti-Chavez coalition. Given that Bush has no popular support in Latin America, he will only meet with client rulers behind closed doors with heavy security protecting him. Parallel to Bush’s visit, President Chavez will visit Argentina, where tens of thousands of people will attend a mass public meeting to welcome him.” Petras is professor emeritus at Binghamton University.
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The International Conference for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases is being held in Ecuador.

Professor of anthropology at Brown University and the Watson Institute for International Studies, Lutz said today: “Officially, a quarter of a million U.S. troops are massed in 737 major bases in 130 countries in facilities worth $115 billion. …

“While the bases are literally weapons depots and staging areas for war-making and ship repair facilities and golf courses and basketball courts, they are also political claims, spoils of war, arms sales showrooms, toxic industrial sites, laboratories for cultural (mis)communication, and collections of customers for local bars, shops, and prostitution.” Lutz is editor of the forthcoming book, Bases, Empire and Global Response.
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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