Picture by Beatrice Murch
Bush, in the meantime, was being received in Uruguay, across the Río de la Plata, with angry demonstrations. Same as in Brazil and in Colombia. Uruguay is courting disaster, I think, by welcoming G. W. Bush to discuss a free trade agreement. The U.S. is clearly trying to use Uruguay as a wedge to break the Mercosur; the (by now only nominally) leftist presidential administration of Tabaré Vázquez, opposed by part of its own party and its own constituency, must be trying to use the U.S. to ring some alarm bells in Brazil and Argentina.
Uruguay is understandably enraged by the Argentine government's lack of action regarding the outrageous blockade of the international passes over the Uruguay River due to the conflict of the cellulose plants. Signing a FTA with the U.S., however, would violate the Mercosur's statutes, and send Uruguay into the voracious maw of the world's largest economy, with little hope of surviving (as an independent country, that is, as opposed to a cheap-labour agricultural colony).
Brazil's Lula can be all cozy with Bush because Brazil is a huge country with many resources, including a lot of land where sugarcane and corn can be grown, later to be transformed into ethanol for fuel-hungry U.S. motorists, if only the U.S. would lower its import tariffs and drop internal agricultural subsidies. That won't happen — a Democrat-controlled U.S. Congress won't stop subsidizing the American corn farmers.
Uruguay, on the other hand, doesn't have anything the U.S. cannot get elsewhere, which is why most analysts say that Bush's visit was either useless or a provocation. Going to Colombia was simply a political gesture of support to his puppet Álvaro Uribe (when George says that the U.S. send a lot of aid to Latin America, remember most of it comes in the form of weapons for anti-drug squads in Colombia).
Both Hugo and George are gone now. George didn't even say "Argentina" during his tour, and of course didn't set foot here. In the supposedly friendlier countries he visited, he had to send a small army before him, and his presence caused massive disruption. He hadn't come so close to Argentina since the disastrous Mar del Plata Summit of the Americas, in November 2005, and it's quite likely that he won't waste any more of his time this side of the Equator until he finishes his term (unless he visits Australia, maybe, to check whether water flushed in a toilet rotates the other way — though he doesn't seem to have such scientific need for empirical tests of anything).