Let's just have a looksee, shall we?
MAR DEL PLATA, Argentina - More than 1,000 demonstrators angry about President Bush's policies clashed with police, shattered storefronts and torched businesses Friday, marring the inauguration of the Summit of the Americas as leaders began debating creation of one of the world's largest free trade zones.Hmmm. Now which of Bush's policies do you think is directly responsible for inciting these folks to violence and destruction? Can't be blamed on the rioters, after all.
The chaos reflected the often violent, worldwide debate on free trade as the United States and Mexico pushed to relaunch talks on creating a free trade area stretching from Canada to Chile. Past summits on free trade — including last year's summit of Asian-Pacific leaders in Chile — have drawn bitter opposition and similar angry protests.Ah, yes, free trade. Well, we all know how free trade ranks right up there on the list of injustices with . . . well, it's right up there with . . . er, using the salad fork on the fish course? It's certainly the turd in the pool of bloated, corrupt semi-dictatorships.
"Only united can we defeat imperialism and bring our people a better life," [Venezuelan prez Hugo Chavez] said, adding: "Here, in Mar del Plata, FTAA will be buried!"Chavez and his ilk [from the article: "Speaking before a six-story banner of revolutionary Che Guevara, Chavez urged the throng . . . to help him fight free trade] have been promising a "better life" for South America for a long time. Usually it's only these "presidents" who end up with the better life.
Argentine President Nestor Kirchner was critical of the United States during the summit, saying Latin America will no longer tolerate American meddling.On the other hand,
Mexican President Vicente Fox said the FTAA proposal would move forward anyway because 29 of the 34 nations taking part in the summit were considering cobbling together their own FTAA — without opponents Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.29 out of 34, eh? Sounds to me like most of Latin America is sick of living under half-baked revolutionaries and luxury-yacht socialists, and is ready to take the economy out for a spin on a full tank of capitalism -- to the point where their willing to tell the five largest economies on the continent (ahem, those who have the most to gain from keep Latin American trade "unfree") to pound sand. Honestly, no matter what you think of George W. Bush, would you rather trade with America, or with Chavez's Venezuela or Lula's Brazil? Thought so.
Chavez and protesters argue that free trade is being forced on Latin American countries.Much like Pam Anderson being "forced" on your average 14-year-old boy.
He has instead pushed for an anti-FTAA deal based on socialist ideals. He has used Venezuela's oil wealth to push for regional solidarity, offering fuel with preferential financing to various Caribbean and Latin American countries.Oh? Who's the economic imperialist now, dickhead? "Hey, Haiti and Bolivia, we'll give you a cut rate on your go-go juice and a free Brazilian wax if you help us ensure that there will be absolutely no push for us to release our hold on Latin American trade or reform our corrupt and stagnant economies anytime soon."
Venezuela is a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and is the world's fifth largest oil exporter as well as a major supplier to the U.S. market.Which means that they have seen how cool being a part of a price-fixing cartel can be. Imagine trying to sell the Mafia on free trade. Getting the picture?
Chavez also regularly claims the United States is trying to overthrow his government, something the U.S. denies.Ho hum. You rush to recognize one little junta and everyone jumps to conclusions.
Some 40 percent of Argentina's 36 million people remain in poverty, and many blame trade liberalization for destroying local industries and causing a flood of cheap imports.Any economist (even a bullshit Keynesian one who writes opinion for the Times) can tell you that this means you're trying to stay competitive in industries that have passed you by. The solution? Well, I suppose you can spend yet another generation stagnating your economy through protectionism in order to avoid the growing pains of the world economy (which is not going away, no matter how long Hugo Chavez holds his breath); viz the proverbial buggy-whip makers of the early 20th century, asking the world to "hold on a sec" for you is a fool's game. Or you can lower your trade barriers, take the short term hit, and let the market tell your entrepreneurs (if you have any left) where you still can be competitive. The second option is not quite so attractive when you're the guy living high on the hog amidst poverty.
More: Daniel from the excellent Venezuela News and Views blog says that turnout for a protest rally in Venezuela in support of Chavez's "confrontation of Bush" was pretty poor.
Yesterday I watched VTV for a few minutes (something I do no more than once a month). Well, they were calling for a support march for Chavez as he woudl be attacking Bush. It was a bust, El Universal reporting around 2000 people at Plaza Morelos and a friend of mine mailing me that even VTV did a very discreet coverage of the event, a sure sign that even their expert cameras could not create the illusion of enthusiastic crowds.