Pubdate: Fri, 03 Dec 2004
Source: Macon Telegraph (GA)
Copyright: 2004 The Macon Telegraph Publishing Company
Author: Mary Sanchez, The Kansas City Star
Note: Headline by Newshawk


In Chile last month, Bush was met by thousands of protesters; 15,000
people by some accounts. The opposition decried past, present and
possible future wounds by the United States. They marched. They wore
signs. A few even burned a U.S. flag.

Americans should not scratch their heads in dismay like they did after
the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

An almost infant-like naivete surrounded the country then as people
asked: "Why do they hate us so much?"

The answer is that most of the world doesn't hate the American people.
They hate our foreign policies. Especially ones that inflict harm on
other countries, sometimes unwittingly. Americans are shielded from
understanding because we tend to focus on how the world gobbles up
American pop culture.

The more complicated nature of foreign policy is less tidy than
Brittany Spears or J Lo. An accounting of U.S. dealings with Latin
America gives ample evidence why some fear and protest American
involvement on Latin soil.

Take Chile. In 1973, a military coup overthrew elected President
Salvador Allende. Guess who backed the coup? The United States.

The man the United States helped to power, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, was
responsible for thousands of people disappearing, tortures and other
human rights violations.

Last year, Secretary of State Colin Powell apologized. Powell called
the time period, "not a part of American history we are proud of."

The same could be said for U.S.-backing of guerrilla troops that
killed thousands in Guatemala.

Pick a Latin country and there are similar stories.

Current politics cause rifts as well. The general population in Mexico
was largely opposed to Bush's re-election. Mostly, they were showing
opposition to the war in Iraq. Dissatisfaction with NAFTA is another
reason. NAFTA is not the economic savior for Mexico once promised.

A new report by the advocacy group Washington Office on Latin America
details more rationale for the anti-American dissent brewing in Latin

The report, "Drugs and Democracy in Latin America: The Impact of U.S.
Policy," details the effects in Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and
the Caribbean.

The idea of the American drug policy was to cut the supply of the
drugs into the United States, driving prices up. One strategy was to
fumigate coca crops. But the poor farmers and indigenous people who
grew the crops and make the least money off the drug trade, were the
inadvertent targets. They lost their means of livelihood.

Meanwhile, corrupt Latin military leaders, often implementing the U.S.
policies, go on their merry way. The crops shift to being grown elsewhere.

Twenty-five years and more than $25 billion later, cocaine and heroin
streams entering the United States are as strong as ever, the report
says. And costs for the drugs are at all-time lows.

The critics aren't opposed to reducing drug use. Just as rational
critics in Latin America are not opposed to all trade agreements. But
make sure U.S. policies are helping. And not simply incubating new

In the meantime, Americans need to continue learning about the
less-than-desirable outcomes to our policies.

Far too often Americans dismiss criticism from foreign sources with a
patriotic, red, white and blue zeal. Other countries are just jealous
of our wealth and military strength, goes the simplistic thinking.

Sept. 11, 2001, should have mercilessly pounded this truth into Americans:
Understanding how the rest of the world views our country is important.

Military strength is no excuse for ignorance about the broad impact of
our foreign policies; the good and the bad results.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin