Interesting view on Bush's trip to South America

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From Investor's Business Daily:
Bush's Message, Chavez's Noise
President Bush will encounter loud leftist protests in the region this week, organized by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. He's desperate to mess up Bush's visit, but he won't succeed.

As Bush prepares a milestone visit to five Latin American democracies, expected to draw a warm welcome from their leaders, a left-wing clown show is getting ready in the wings, courtesy of the regional bully.

In Argentina, for example, Chavez is organizing a big, noisy counterprotest in collaboration with that country's reluctant president, Nestor Kirchner. The March 9 event will be a blatantly propagandistic bid to demonstrate that anti-Bush sentiment is alive and well south of our border.

But there are signs it might not go as well as the last trash-drenched, anti-Bush gathering two years ago, during an Organization of American States meeting in Mar del Plata.

For one thing, Kirchner didn't particularly want to host Chavez's new rally, and when Chavez prevailed on him, he made it clear he didn't want it big. He wanted to move the event from a 40,000-seat stadium to one that seats just 6,000. He also presented Chavez with a $192,000 bill.

Chavez has invited two other anti-U.S. presidents to thumb their noses at Bush at this event, Ecuador's Rafael Correa and Bolivia's Evo Morales, neither of whom is on the president's itinerary.

Morales, whose nation relies on $120 million in U.S. aid, has made some curiously hesitant statements about needing to sort out his schedule before knowing whether he can attend. So it's possible he might not show up if Chavez doesn't push him.

Note that the Chavez rally will not be held in any of the five countries that are hosting the president � Brazil, Uruguay, Colombia, Guatemala and Mexico � but in probably the only country whose state-paid protesters, known as piqueteros, can fill a stadium with anti-Bush protesters.
Bush will be offering some interesting plans for the places he visits, ways to offset narcoterrorism, college training and medical care. From the article:
Bush will also bring along other goodies. The USMS Comfort will make calls through several Latin American and Caribbean ports, providing free medical care for 85,000 poor people, and 1,500 free surgeries. This will dwarf any of Fidel Castro's efforts to send his paramedic-grade doctors to propagandize for the Cuban regime.

There's also a new initiative to help Latin Americans study in the U.S. through the community colleges. This is particularly promising because a comparable program in the 1980s for 2,000 Chinese students has since reaped the U.S. decades of good will.

The handouts may look like Santa Bush, but that's all right. The important thing is that Bush will get a chance to get word out about U.S. involvement in Latin America through direct assistance, trade pacts and other cooperative ventures for which it's never received credit.

Bush has authorized $1.5 billion in U.S. assistance to the region since he's taken office � doubling what the Clinton administration approved and dwarfing the highly politicized but ineffective handouts that the Chavez regime gets so much credit for dishing out. It's also not very well known that the U.S. also has been helping poor countries with with free medical care.

"When President Bush goes, he's taking a positive message � cooperation and collaboration," a senior state department official told IBD, emphasizing that all the measures are meant to engage the private sectors of these countries. "If Chavez wants to send conflict, that's his position, and that's not on our agenda."
Bush acts while Chavez bloviates and runs his country even more into debt and corruption.

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This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on March 6, 2007 5:42 PM.

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