19 October 2006

Guatemala vs. Venezuela

Guatemala and Venezuela are tied in the battle of votes for a Latin American seat in the UN Security Council. How does this affect Argentina? Why am I covering this?

Well, in the first place, that's Argentina's non-permanent seat they're fighting over. So whoever gets that seat will be seen as either a continuation or a discontinuity with regards to the previous situation.

Second, and more important, the UNSC is the place where important things are decided, like punishing a country for having weapons of mass destruction (whether actual nuclear weapons or made up chemical-biological-nuclear thingies). The UNSC is also the big boys' ivory tower, from where they veto-strike (as if with lightning) anything that the UN General Assembly decide and that they don't like.

Guatemala has recently begun receiving the benefits of free trade with the U.S., and is therefore utterly dependent on the U.S. continuing consumption of its products, among which there are such sophisticated, value-added exports as bananas, coffee and sugarcane. Its president, Óscar Berger, is a wealthy landlord. Its representative to the UN, who bears the full-blooded Latino name of Gert Rosenthal and prefers to speak in English for the cameras, is a MA in Economics of UC Berkeley. On a quick survey, it looks like Guatemala is a business; the manager is Mr. Berger, the accountant is Mr. Rosenthal, and the real owner is the US Department of State. The 80% of Guatemalans who live in poverty are the workers, and the other 20% are supervisors.

Venezuela, on the other hand, is one of the vertices of the Axis of Latino Evil, home of the only president outside the Middle East to call George W. Bush a terrorist and to nickname him things like "Mr. Danger".

Surprise surprise, the U.S. doesn't want Venezuela at the UNSC. They prefer Guatemala. The other day Mr. Rosenthal said something to the effect that Guatemala is offended because everybody's treating it as if it were invisible and assuming it's a puppet of the United States. Oh, Gert, don't take offence. We only think the Guatemalan government is a puppet. Like the governments of El Salvador, Afghanistan, and so many others. Guatemala, home of the mayas, who were already measuring the length of the solar year up to milliseconds while pious Europe debated whether it was a stake-burn-deserving sin to think that the earth was not flat and still in the center of the universe, is much more than that. We don't want you, Óscar & Gert, and your ilk, at the UNSC, serving as proxy for the interests of the U.S.; we love and pity poor Guatemala for being subject to your foreign-bred colonial technocracy.

The real issue at stake here is the fact that Latin America is divided, and the cause of the division is outside it. The US and the global economic establishment have tempted all of us with promises of "free trade", "modern development", "democracy", and encouraged us to follow their initiatives calling for war, increased millitarization, and terrorist paranoia. Some have turned one way, others the other way; and those ways are incompatible. Ironically, the abhorrently Manichaean stand of G. W. Bush is true in this case: Latin American countries are perforce with the US or against them. This is a battle to decide who will speak for Latin America in a place where our words matter.

1 comment:

  1. I hope more people in these countries would wake up to Fair Trade rather than what the U.S. deem as fair trade which ain't fair except in the eyes of the U.S. and the few government officials in these countries who stand to benefit.

    Berger and Rosenthal's ancestors probably got split up from the rest of their families who went to the U.S. while they were all making their escape from war torn Europe.


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