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February 23, 2010
Western hemisphere leaders challenge U.S. dominance

The dispute between Britain and Argentina over oil exploration in the Falkland Islands was just one of the topics on the agenda at a meeting today of Latin American leaders in Mexico.

Thirty-two leaders from the Americas agreed to create a new regional cooperation organization — the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States — would exclude the U.S. and Canada.

Many Latin American leaders have voiced their concern that America’s interests have too often dominated diplomacy in the region. The new organization’s mission will be to defend human rights in the Western hemisphere.

For more, Martin Savidge interviews Christopher Sabatini, the senior director of policy at the Council of the Americas.

Do you agree with the Latin American leaders who say the U.S. has sometimes acted badly toward Latin America?

Tell us what you think in the comments section below. Please be respectful and on-point. Malicious or offensive comments will be deleted, and repeat offenders will be banned.

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I think I’m the only one to comment here who LIVES in Latin America (Sinaloa, to be exact).

It’s somewhat disappointing that the interviewer even had to ask if the U.S. was seen negatively in Latin America. The United States has been intervening in Latin American affairs since the Monroe Administration, and the sense of history here does not begin with the School of the Americas, the Cold War of FDR.

Jose Vasconcellos, the right-wing Mexican philospher, in the 1930s divided pan-Latin political thought into two camps: Monroist (those who see the U.S. intervention over the centuries as relatively benign or positive) and Bolivarians (who hold the opposite view, and see a need for pan-Latin solidarity). While Vasconcellos’ vision of Bolivarianism led to his own support of Fascism, the meaning of Bolivarianism has changed, and we’re in a Bolivarian phase now.

Anti-British sentiment (and British anti-Spanish sentiment, which has been reflected in British attitudes towards Latin America) goes back to the days of Elizabeth I. The Latin American establishment, of whatever political coloration today, just don’t like the British, and supporting Argentine claims in las Malvinas is a no-brainer … and an easy way to send a clear signal that the Latin American nations are serious about turning away from the U.S. (which, in Mexico’s case, would certainly help our economy, which — unlike Brazil or Boliva — is in a free-fall, being so closely allied to the United States.


If you read my book, “Troubled Neighbors: the Story of US-Latin American Relations from FDR to the Present (Worldview Press, Boulder, Col, 2006) or “Vecinos en Conflicto” (Siglo XXI, Mexico, 2008) then you know I cannot be accused of admiring US policy toward Latin America. Instead, I am an unreconstructed fan of FDR and his Good Neigthbor Policy. But to make the US the villain of the hemisphere is to ignore the consgtructive policies of FDR, Kennedy, Carter, Clinton and now Obama.


I was dumbfounded to hear Mr. Savidge ask if we thought the “allegations” that America had treated Latin American countries badly could be true. May I recommend a book by Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, a professor of Justice & Peace Studies at the U. of St. Thomas (St Paul MN). The book is “School of Assassins: Guns, Green, and Globalization.” He might also sit down to talk about Latin America with folks like Eva Golinger, Mark Weisbrot and (first name?) Nunes.

The record is long and ugly, but the major media like the NY Times and Washington Post pretend those who resist our support of dictators and economic elites over the civil and human rights of citizens are “dictators.” Our recent tacit support of the illegitimate military overthrow of the democratically elected president of Honduras and Hillary Clinton’s delight that the military-managed “election” of a member of one of the Ten Families that have ruled that country for years, would return Honduras to “stabilization.”


I encourage you to make a list of the positive vs the negative influences that Greek-Roman-Spain-France Great Britain Empires have made in their time and the reasons of their “passing” as dominant culture. In all cases, their “own” people contributed to put them down. Going against the natural laws, negative statements, lack of appreciation of contributions certainly do not help. Basically, leaders elected by people reflect what the people think.
I am thankful for the positive aspects and take advantage of them. I analyze the history to learn from it and improve from. Personally I’m 33% native/white/black lived in Europe, South and North America; have a Dr. and 2 Ms degrees and love serving all people. I am thankful for what as a culture we learn from others, for all the scientific advances and the discipline we have learn from the mostly white, Jews and Christians cultures; for the Egyptian, Chinese cultures and indeed thankful that Africans(who really started slavery when they sold their owns) had not come to world power till now. I am thankful for the Unite States of America! I fly in a plane, drive a car, have TV, PC, live in tranquility in a comfortable home because the American culture.
Please, learn from us Venezuelans. I lived in the US before 1998 when the “change” started in Venezuela. Now people over there say: “when we were happy and did not appreciate it


They only like us when they need us, as when there is war within and outside there borders,
a lot like pre World War II Europeans.


It might improve the discussion to remember that England is not an international actor and there is no such thing as English citizenship. There is a UK citizenship which include English, Scots, Welsh, Northern Irish, Falkland Islanders and others.


If the OAS disappears, perhaps the US should devote the money it now spends on OAS dues to financing a referendum in the Islands to see whether the inhabitants prefer UK or Argentine citizenship. 99% UK is about what I expect but I may be underestimating!




We act badly to any country or idea that doesn’t match ours..pretty obvious through out history. But really, Mr. Sabatini (they mouth piece from The Council of the Americas), please who’s america? He is another Rockafeller puppet spewing propaganda.


this isn’t up for debate. the pentagon has officially released documents on their violence they do there.

if we had to do bad things during the cold war than we then have to teach our people precisely each intervention and who were sacrificed and than give them a big thanks for taking one for the team, anything short of this is an obstruction of history and of the reality of the matter.

and besides, the cold war ended 20 years ago and we have 95% of the world’s military satellites and more naval vessels than all countries combined. we outspend the next seven powers on defense. so why are we still doing these things?


Your question is equivalent to asking if Columbus and his conquistadors did bad things to native indians. You really needed to ask that question? Really?


#36, Good point Bob


The United States dominates the world to gain resources and profits for American business interests. Latin America being geographically close has endured countless military incursions by US Marines and special-forces to further American political and/or business interests. Our government anti-communist crusade supports ruthless dictators, right wing death squads, and countless other murderous organizations through out Latin America. We, as, Americans benefit from the exploitation of Latin America. We exist in relative comfort because sound
and strong men are protecting our way of life. It is a cruel hard world, and we have acted badly.


I see most people confusing US citizens with the US government – they are two totally different groups. The citizens are just as much a victim of the US government as any other group in the world. The only cure for us or the world is the total eradication of the US government, and starting over with a revized constitution to prevent the crooks and big money boys from taking over again. The purpose of government is supposed to be the vitality of its people, not the government and its owner’s self interests.


That all depends. It seems like countries in south and Central America have nothing good to say about the United States – but they always want to come here to get jobs and enjoy our benefits. There is some truth to the US being arrogant to a limited degree but that should be limited to business and certain areas of the US government. But the American people don’t deserve a slap in the face from South & Central America. We open up our doors to those people who want to work here in the US and send the money back to their native countries, they tap into our social programs which cost them nothing and we offer them extended educations and opportunities later with those educations. If their attitudes is keep the US out of their business then we ought to do so – across the board not just what is convenient for them. Jim @ USA


I see that many who have posted here are not versed in South American, nor American history. Unfortunately most US citizens are not. The US deserves to be shut out of ANY multinational organization, IMHO, we’re becoming a vast nation of ignorant idiots, with a hierarchy of greedy, misogynistic white men who think nothing of raping other lands and peoples all in the name of profit. The Council of the Americas that Sabatini comes from is simply a an organization for US businesses that’s main goal is to rape and pillage our neighbors to the south. Interviewing him was like doing an ad for the “Council of the Americas” – not a council at all but who would guess that??? Very misleading.


Search the internet and find USMC Major General Smedley Butler’s words from 1933: “War is just a Racket”
“…I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916….”


The U.S. always acts in its own interests. Thats just the way it works. If the receiving countries benefit, great, if not, too bad. I too have married a South American native and try to keep up with events there, especially Colombia. Such a beautiful county, but such tragedy they can’t find a peace amongst themselves. Is the U.S. involvement there helping or hurting? Be careful when you make a pact with the U.S. (or that devilish one as some would call it).


I married a South American and spent much time there, even she said it was too bad that Britian did not gain full control of the Americas. Spanish/Catholic actions have made a mess, however, it must be understood in the modern world that we are all the citizens of one big world. We must respect local traditions and at the same time move forward toward one world realization of brotherhood/sisterhood. This universalim alone will save us now. google ‘gunapie’ for more.


Confused,Catholic,and corrupt-thats why America became influential there.They have’nt changed their act-overpopulation,dictatorships,slow to industrialize,perhaps,finally,they have got it!


Latin American nations, such as Brazil and Chile, which have liberated themselves from futile cold war political and military influences, e.g. Pinochet’s coup and dictatorship, and poorly implemented economic models, e.g. Washington Consensus, United Fruit, have thrived.


Almost from day one European terrorist arrived on this hemisphere announcing that “all men are created equal” even as they held Africans in chains, killed Native Americans by the 100’s of thousands, dispossessed Mesoamericans and occupied all of both North and South America by violence.

American/Anglo-Saxon’s have shamelessly, egregiously and systematically raped, pillaged and plundered all that was the very best of the Third World in general and Mesoamerica and South America in particular with disdain and impunity.

For this interventionist, colonizing empire to question the decisions of the sovereign nation’s they have oppressed for generations is disingenuous but oddly historical.

The oligarchs of this empire have at times through its transnational corporations others more openly through official governmental actions and still others through the collusion between both gone out of their way to suppress any and all hope or chance of hope in “Latin America.”

Oh and by the way after the compassionate conservative Christians have created the conditions that make it impossible for the average citizen of the nations of Central and South America to find any work in their homelands, they now call the original inhabitants of these lands, “illegal aliens.” How can anyone be “illegal?” Shame on this nation’s oligarch-terrorists.


Dr. Mario.
It easy to hate America when you live here enjoying all of the rewards America has to offer. You work in an academic job funded by tax-paying Americans. If you really want us to believe your anger then why don’t you just leave all that America has to offer behind and live in another country. Or are you just an idealistic hypocritical flag-burning ranter who has the words but not the guts to stand up for your beliefs ? You call us ignorant, yet it is ignorant to believe that governments don’t kill thousands of people to obtain their goals. If the shoe was on the other foot they would be killing US to obtain our riches. Thats the reality of the real world, wake up and appreciate the fact that your living in America–even though you try you best not to be one.


A history of Spanish colonial exploitation, lack of democratic institutions and an indifferent ruling class are just some of the causes of Latin America’s ongoing troubles. We in United States have contributed our share too. Greedy corporations and a corrupt government that allows the special interests to determine our foreign policy have made a bad situation much worse.


Could this be the begining of the realization of the Venezuelan hero; “SIMON BOLIVAR” who’s vision and leadership freed the republics of COLOMBIA,VENEZUELA,ECUADOR from the spanish tyranic rule of the times?.
A rule bent on perverting these and other countries autoctonous values, religions, economic systems, all the while plundering their treasures…? (by the way what was Spain’s president doing in this meeting any way…? even if it was nice to hear him yell at HUGO CHAVEZ to shut the heck up during one of his rantics…)

Nowadays, the almighty USA is doing the same under the guise of trade and commerce agreements. International aid or investment is tied to political direction rather than the aversion of poverty or hunger;
Since the Spaniards pretty much converted 99.9 of the people to their version of religion stripping nearly all sense of identity from a population greater than that of the USA Native American the United States has been focused more on how to keep the little guys little and the poor guys poorer.
YES IT IS TRUE… that all the Cental and South American countries would do well to unite under some form of instrument and begin to understand that their greatest potential, is in uniting just like all the states of america have done. now all they really need is a respectable man (or woman) , A NEW VISIONARY LIDER not like chavez who can unite them first and rally their resources second, to catch up with the US and stand up for themselves.


Well put Dr. M


The question itself is a bit insulting, since it is no secret that our government has been, on the most part, a negative influence in Latin America and committed many atrocities in the name of democracy, for more than a century. Sadly, many of the folks that have expressed their opinions in this forum clearly show a level of ignorance worthy of illiterate individuals. Practically every military coup that has occurred in Latin America since the inception of the American empire in the late 1800s has been orchestrated by our government and many countries south of the border have suffered from American military invasions. Thousands upon thousands of people have died as a consequence of these coups and invasions. Ironically, many Latin Americans have come to this country fleeing persecution from governments and dictators sponsored by our government. Finally, as for those who pretend to feel so hurt by those who denounce the actions of our government, all I can tell them is to learn about how much wealth the US has siphoned out of Latin America for over a century. In fact, what the US government has given to some Latin American governments on occasion is peanuts by comparison. In short, get your fact straight before you ridicule yourself.


The United States has historically viewed Latin America as its political and economic “back-yard.” We have always been willing to “play” with Latin American countries as long as they were willing to hand over their fate to the U.S. as the bully on the block. Perhaps a way has finally been found to give the rest of the Western Hemisphere some say in its own affairs. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States may fray some of the tangled American Puppet strings controlling their member Government. And restore both economic and political freedom to the Western Hemisphere, including America.


The more appropriate question would be whether you think that the US has occasionally done right by Latin America. Latinos come here to get that which is swindled from them and to escape the grinding poverty that such economic dependency guarantees.


I would like to say that Martin Savidge did an excellent job tonight. Regarding post #22 (Datenut), as someone who grew up in the American southwest myself, I can say that post #22 gives a complete mischaracterization of most of the Latinos in this area.


All the whiners don’t like us but they sure love our money and our way of life. Every great nation on earth has had revolutions and fought for the way of life, values and governments the people wanted. I hope all the Latinos go home and grow some bravery and fight for what they want and need from their governments. They should do whatever they need to do to reinforce their ramshackle earthquake prone buildings, create jobs, work on poverty and disease and maybe they won’t have to come here for work and healthcare and education and we can go back to a nation that speaks English, teaches our children manners, provides police, hospitals and security for our citizens, who puts their children to bed on time so they can succeed in school and not take them with the screaming masses of families in grocery and department and discount stores until midnight every night. Let them all be Latino south of the border and American here. Too much resentment on both sides.


Well, we should at least be able to include California since majority are legal & illegal Latinos anyway. Fillint our prisons, bringing our education and school performances down. Let them do whatever they want. What do we care? We have our own resources and we should use them. If those countries don’t want our help or dollars fine with me. Let them fix their own governments and poverty themselves. Maybe all the illegals will go home to a new unity down south of us. I believe like most countries on this planet we either fought for and paid Mexico for land they were willing to sell.


There is rarely any country in Latin America the US was not involved in military coups, secret operations and dictatorship support. It exploited these countries for decades in any imaginable way and is one of the most shameful episodes in US history. Great idea of these countries to go without the US and Canada.


Sounds here like a lot of folks will soon be emmigrating from this vile place called the U.S. to the blissful confines of Chavez/Castro land. Byeee!!


Where have you all been for the last 30 years as most of Latin America, supported by the U.S.,has thrown off dictators in favor of democracy. Unfortunately, this promise of democracy is being destroyed by dictators such as Hugo Chavez and company. Sounds like you are all stuck in 1960’s academia.


The United States is incapable of taking care of its own people. The wealthy who really run this country and the world don’t think of any citizen of any nation as an individual, they are simply masses in the way of increasing their own wealth. I would love to believe in the America that I was raised and taught to believe in as a child. However, she simply doesn’t exist. “America” was built on the bodies of the indigenous peoples who existed here. The greatest genocide recorded in all of mankind to date. Then those they did not kill they imprisoned on the original prisoner of war camps and they called them reservations. Gifts of land to the people who know you cannot own the land. And now they seek to ignore, starve and abandon these people in hopes that they can let them fade into the distant past and just go away. Billions are tossed around protecting endangered species and yet endangered groups of Native American people are being exterminated through all the broken promises and ill treatment of the United States government. Precisely when the United States government was sold out from under us and to whom I am not certain. The United States government sold out the indigenous peoples long ago. Why would anyone think that they are capable of less when it comes to stealing from, interfering and breaking promises to the rest of the globe? The more separate the government has grown from actually representing its own citizen’s and has grown to function as a tool for special interest and the wealth mongers of the world–the more it violates other countries and their growth or ability to prosper or to fail based on their own actions and decisions. Its not just the Native Americans that have been spit upon. The total evaporation of a middle class and the thousands and thousands of American citizen that have been abandoned to live in the streets or under bridges across the nation are testimony to indifference of human life. This country evolved on its own terms, in its own time and has been trying desperately to control how or if anyone else ever evolves, much less surpasses what we once could have stood for. It is not a matter of people flocking to America because it is so wonderful these days. It is simply more miserable from whence they come. As a nation “of the people and by the people” will somehow have to once again take control and stop powerful disinterested-in-humanity third parties from fowling our soil and concentrate what energies are left on recreating the intent of liberty and freedom for all “here”. If the government here can’t take care of our own how dare thy presume to interfere in the governments of other nations. It puts us in a position not unlike the childless authority that tells everyone else how to raise their children. Karma is an interesting concept. If one truly gets what one gives then the foundation upon which America was born is a very wicked and weak one. Weak foundations fail to support a structure. In as much as countries and nations all over the globe are watching our foundations crumbling there will be more of them gathering together just like the Latin American Nations are attempting to do now. Its time to own up, for citizens to take back their voices, and to become involved in the reform of things that are going on all around us and not working. Then rather than dictating and telling other nations what they will and will not do–perhaps we can offer a helping hand–not one that reaches out to squash any resistance to the deteriorating state of current affairs!


The concensus here seems to be anit-US. I wonder if the Iraqis, Egyptians, Afghanis, Syrians, Iranians, Pakistanis, etc would say similar things about US meddling. My guess would be YES. There are many, many reasons for Americans to be disliked.




Our record in Central and South America is one of dishonor and disgrace. It looks like things are going to heat up again in the Falklands this time over oil. Let us hope that we do not pull a Reagan by backing the British. I know Reagan was given an honorary Knighthood or some such nonsense. It shames us to see our leaders grovelling to the so called royals in England.


The USA is a very chauvanistic nation. We would be happy claiming the entire world as “our backyard” in order to have our way.


I agree with the Latin American leaders in wanting to act independently from the US, which has, as others have already eloquently pointed out, treated its neighbors to the south very badly, to put it mildly. Latin America has emerged from under brutal regimes the US has supported, been sucked into debt by the IMF, and, like the Scotch-Irish colonists in America who had fled British oppression, don’t want to go there again, thank you.


Has the United States treated it’s ‘neighbor’s to the South fairly?
Consider this;
1. the appropriation of what is now 1/3 of the United States Territory from Mexico during the Mexican-American War under to “Polk Doctrine” of Manifest Destiny.
2. Thea forced, illegal deportation of over One Million American Born Citizens of Mexican American Heritage to Mexico in the 1940’s who had come here under the ‘Braceros Program’.
3. The orchestration of another ‘bogus’ war against Spain during the “Spanish-American War” which resulted in the United States occupation and domination of Puerto Rico,The Phillipines,and Guam among other territories.
4. More recently,the United States support of England in the Falkland (Malvinas) war between England and Argentina which resulted in the English Victory in 1982.
….all the while American Citizens of ‘Hispanic Ancestory’ have volunteered and aided in ALL U.S. Wars including the Revolutionary War in numbers of far GREATER percentage than their demographic population.

What do you think?


I am really tired of people from other countries complaining about the US when their people can’t wait to get here fast enough and care very little about doing it legally. Frankly being the 800 lb gorilla in the room means we basically run the risk of displeasing everybody. So what! I care less about many of these governments in the South of the border that haven’t their own people’s best interests at heart. Corruption is left over from Spanish conquest days and most people live under the legal systems in their own countries. They need to clean up their own corruption before they start pointing fingers at the US. Show us that you have fiscal and democratic discipline before you start whining about the US. They all chase after the almighty dollar with a frenzy.


yes i think they ougth to exclude the u.s.for the reason we wont have to pay for it.let them have their own dictator and let him run the country in the ground.let them take care of their own problems.


This is a no brainer. The US government’s history is filled with the Banana Wars, The School of the Americas (now with a new name); putting in power and supporting ruthless dictators; causing a civil war in Colombia to allow the US to take what is now Panama and build the Panama Canal; the fruit companies controlling governments. The US government is a deadly virus that will sacrifice or bury anyone for a profit, including their own citizens. If Cental and South America are wise, they will not allow the US government anywhere near their organization, and good luck to them.


The US has for too many years covertly or overtly supported dictatorships in Latin America. Our role in overthrowing the Allende government in Chile and ushering in the Pinochet horrors is only one example. There are far too many others. And yet, the US still does not accord the nations of Latin America the respect that belongs to them. The nations of Latin America deserve to determine their own future without the often arrogant and heavy-handed influence of the US. It is about time!


it’s about time that the latin leader get together and act as one because the us and it’s counter part the british are always getting first pick on anything and if they don’t they create ways to make it hard for any one else.


Mr. Christopher Sabatini added little to the discussion. The OAS is a pseudo-organization which carries an agenda to benefit only the USA and their imperialist partners in latin america. Used primarily as means to pillage the land, and also as excuse to pressure Cuba back into right wing dictatorship. Surely, the US contributes 40% of their budget, but its mostly used to oppress and steal from the fertile lands of latin america. The interests of US and Canada are hardly EVER aligned with the rest of the continent. Aside from puppet Uribe, all seem to agree. There is inevitable socialism brewing south of the rio grande.


Wonderful idea, because the u.s. has never taken sides in any conflict with latin american countries, take for instance Mulnvinas,and the Argentines against the British. When are we going to stop supporting brutal dictators in the americas.


For fifty years and more the US has supported dictators in South America and set some of them up. Having their own group will enable these countries to breathe.


The United States’ history of intervention and interference in Latin America is appalling. The idea of a united bloc of the Americas that excludes the United States and Canada is a great idea which will allow the Latin countries to stand up together without Uncle Sam’s self-serving vetoes.


The US has acted badly wherever they have gone! They care only about money and power. I am Native American and was a mindless patriot for much of my life. Now, at age 67, I see this country’s govt. in it’s true light.

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