During eight years in the White House, Bush's war on Iraq so absorbed his attention that for once in three centuries of Yanqui hegemony, Latin America has breathing room to shore up common defenses against the Colossus of the North, build alliances, as the pendulum swings left from neoliberalism, and even elect some social democratic presidents.
"We're back!" Tom Shannon declared, and Cristina Kirchner's first 100 days were troubled by mischief that had a distinctly made-in-U.S.A. whiff. As the 32nd anniversary of the installation of the military junta--that set off years of dirty war in which as many as 30,000 Argentinean leftists disappeared--approached, agribusiness tycoons, miffed at a 9 per cent tax Kirchner had slapped on soaring soy exports, hired armies of goons to block the nation's highways and shut down commercial traffic in and out of Argentina. The shelves of Buenos Aires supermarkets quickly went bare.
Thirty two years ago, according to an account by the Argentinean journalist Stella Callone, one of the organizers of the lockout, Sociedad Rural (Rural Society), financed the military junta that seized power on March 23, 1976. The road blockades brought back bad dreams. The 1976 coup had been preceded by a similar lockout.
Failure to move the FTA through the U.S. Congress will put one more tear in George Bush's tattered Latin legacy. Bush desperately needs passage to validate not only his doctrine in Latin America but James Monroe's as well.
John Ross is in Mexico City and can be reached at email@example.com.