[Hugh O'Shaughnessy gives his take on the visit of the leaders of
Argentina and Chile to London and UK policy towards Latin America. For O'Shaughnessy, Britain’s bad decisions in Latin America – including that of aligning
itself against President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and other reforming
leaders – come from its unthinking alignment with Washington in
preference to the EU.]
FCO Minister for Latin America Kim Howells with troops of the High Mountain Battalion of the Colombian Army, including head of the Colombian army General Mario Montoya (behind him and left of Howells). General Montoya is reported to have collaborated with paramilitary death squads and drug traffickers and to be linked with disappearances and killings in Colombia.
Britain's relations with Latin America
Monday March 31 - By Hugh O'Shaughnessy - The New Statesman
Two powerful Latin American presidents arrive in Britain this week. Both these women are shrewd so I fear it will not take them long to tumble to the facts about this country and Latin America. The British government, they will see, is ignorant and misguided about their nations. Just as it was about Iraq before Blair took Bush’s shilling five years ago, illegally invaded that country under his command and started the present bloody cataclysm there. With the Foreign and Commonwealth Office shaken and intimidated, Britain is today being lead by the nose by Washington around the Southern Hemisphere as easily as for the past five years it has been led around the Middle East.
Seen worldwide as the weak partner in a transatlantic relationship - the fifth wheel on the US motor car - and as a semi-detached member of the European Union, Her Majesty’s Government, thank God, presents no threat to President Cristina de Kirchner from Argentina and President Michelle Bachelet from Chile. But the legacy of Blairism and the continuing US connection mean there will be disappointment among who hoped that Britain would help Latin Americans with their principal problem, how to bridge the horrific chasm which separates the desperately poor majority from the minority of fat cats. Hopes for reform, effective democracy and the development of a market which would benefit the whole Atlantic world and boost international trade are not on the US agenda. Its past patronage of violent plutocrats such as Somoza, Videla and Pinochet confirms that.
In November, for instance, the FCO, the Department for International Development and the US-controlled Inter-American Development Bank held a conference in London on inequality in Latin America. But, bizarrely, the organisers had invited no-one from the governments of Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador or Nicaragua which had actually achieved something in combating inequality. When I ventured to ask why, the response was silence: no one found the courage to confess what I suspect which is they were absent because Washington did not like them.
Washington prefers the corrupt and murderous government of President Álvaro Uribe of Colombia. Consequently so does Britain.
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