Kyoung Update: Santiago, Chile

by kyoung on April 29, 2005

Hello friends!

So Condoleezza Rice arrived to Chile yesterday and she disturbed my quiet enjoyment of an online library with all of Chomsky’s writings… So I had to plug in to the BBC and try to figure out what the hell she’s doing here. Below is an article I wrote about my discoveries and also, some pictures I took while driving with a friend to downtown Santiago… Enjoy!

Love,

Kyoung

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Santiago

April 28, 2005

Democracy
or
What is Condoleezza Rice doing in Chile?
written by: Kyoung H. Park

While the United State’s mission to “Free Iraq” has led today to its first democratically elected government in decades, democracy has taken a violent toll this week during the recent elections in Togo and throughout the overhaul of Ecuador’s president. Meanwhile in Great Britain, Blair campaigns for his own re-election while in Chile two women fight for the left-party’s nomination to the presidency. As participants of an ever-growing democratic world, how can we wrap our heads around the disparate results of democracy worldwide?

Whether our governments are being built under foreign pressure or born from national civil movements, it seems that we have become complicit in the creation of an increasing list of governments that are not only instituting democratic values nationally, but evolving their reach beyond their sovereign limits and forging international priorities to establish democracy elsewhere.

Unlike the multi-billion multi-national corporations that have already anchored themselves in the global market, our elected representatives are traveling around the globe to build coalitions and continent-wide institutions to spread democracy. However, taking a closer look at the current American initiatives to spread it, we can begin to see how the lines blur between politics and economics.

Santiago (2)

Today, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived to Santiago, Chile as part of her Latin American tour and will participate in tomorrow’s Third Ministerial Conference of Democratic Communities, a gathering of Chancellors from Europe and the Americas. In previous stops of her five-day tour, Brazil and Columbia, Rice has actively promoted human development to bolster the region’s democracies, tied up to a brand new initiative called the Organization of American States, a free trade agreement between the Americas.

She has also taken the time to criticize Venezuela and Cuba for their lack of interest in the Organization of American States and “democratic principles.” (Let us not forget that last week, the US also brought up to the UN a call for the renewal of an investigation of alleged human rights abuses on the island.) Opposing tomorrow’s discussion in the Ministerial Conference, Chavez travelled to Cuba to meet Castro today, agreed on an increase in trade between both countries to approximately $1 billion dollars a year, and formed an alliance which rivals the US proposal for free trade.

When democracy, envisioned with such faith by George W. Bush, is causing such drastic changes on a daily basis, why is it so adamantly being reinforced in Latin America as if it were necessary? Could it be because during the past two decades, America’s neo-liberal formula for economic liberalization in Latin American countries has resulted in over 100 million people living on less than one dollar a day? Could it be because during the past six years, while America has been focused on spreading democracy in the Middle East, Latin American countries have elected left-party Presidents who have chosen to distance themselves from Washington? Or is it because countries such as Venezuela are now joining Cuba in their stand against the United States and their interest in increasing business?

In IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY, Norman Chomsky states:

“State Department planners warned that the “very existence” of the Castro regime is “successful defiance” of US policies going back 150 years, to the Monroe Doctrine…. Furthermore, this successful defiance encourages others, who might be infected by the “Castro idea of taking matters into their own hands…” These dangers are particularly grave… when “the distribution of land and other forms of national wealth greatly favors the propertied classes … and the poor and underprivileged, stimulated by the example of the Cuban revolution, are now demanding opportunities for a decent living.” The whole system of domination might unravel if the idea of taking matters into one’s own hands spreads its evil tentacles.”

Santiago (3)

In this article, printed in January of 2005, Chomsky suggests that democracy, in terms of America’s strategic interests in global dominance, “is fine if the results come out the right way; otherwise, to the flames.” And flames we have experienced, observing daily the thousands of wounded and killed in the spread of democracy in Iraq. And while a democratic government has been instituted, less than one percent of the Iraqis believe that the war was fought for this purpose, or that they’ll be able to democratically command themselves without the influence of the American government.

Similarly to Iraq, Latin American countries have experienced numerous US interventions in their governments, mainly military, and have much to question about the democratic “values” that Rice is currently lobbying south of her border. And while we seek to engage in what is undoubtfully, critical years for democracy, I suggest we begin to take a second look at how the public, can play a “role in determining policies, not only in the political arena from which it is largely excluded, but also in the crucial economic arena, from which it is excluded in principle.” (Ibid.)

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