Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Have you seen the new article, How George W. Bush unified Latin America?

Has Latin America ever had such a unifying figure?

At political rallies, his visage is held aloft as a beacon to regional independence and self-determination. He's helped forge new trade partnerships to spur economic growth and alleviate poverty. And his leadership has fanned a gale-force electoral trend that's sweeping the hemisphere to topple one pro-Washington government after the next.

Who is this grand inductor of Latin American leftism? Venezuelan fireball Hugo Chavez? Blue-collar Brazilian Lula Ignacio da Silva? Bolivia's coca-farmer-cum-president, Evo Morales?

¬°Epa! It's George W. Bush, the accidental revolutionary.

In the past five years, the swaggering Texan has inspired a leftward surge that is uniting Latin America and threatening to knock Che Guevara right off all those natty t-shirts.

Now, I've blogged before on the leftward shift of Latin America, but credit must be given to the greatest unifying force that part of the world has seen since Simon Bolivar.

And just to add to the troubles, Manuel Lopez Obrador has continued to lead in polls in Mexico, despite a concerted effort by both of his rivals, PAN candidate Felipe Calderon and PRI candidate Roberto Madrazo, to run a really nasty, American style negative campaign full of personal attacks and innuendo against Lopez Obrador (this is new for Mexico).

In fact, the right in America is in a conundrum about the Mexican election. The Bush administration, having learned from their hard core rhetoric about Iraq in 2002 that bought Gerhard Schroeder three more years, has taken a concilliatory tone on immigration (an issue that resonates in Mexico). But then every time people in his own party talk about building a wall along the border or making illegal immigration a felony, it helps boost Lopez Obrador. I can almost see Bush desperately and uselessly holding his finger to his lips and making a hand gesture to ratchet down the rhetoric at least before the Mexican election in July. And it is hard to suppose that the sudden blitz of American-style negative advertising that both of Lopez Obrador's opponents rolled out in unision doesn't draw at least some inspiration from recent GOP tactics (maybe more than inspiration?)

Regardless of what happens in Mexico, however, one thing is clear: The reason the GOP has suddenly 'discovered' the immigration issue (aside from their usual tactics of finding scapegoats they can use to stampede people into voting for them) is because as long as what came into the country from Latin America was mostly cheap labor, drugs and maybe the occasional terrorist, they may have seen problems in the country, but they personally didn't feel so theatened. But the winds of freedom, now those are dangerous things if you are a Republican.

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