Support for Anti-Democratic Moves
Bush and his arrogant cowboy attitude that draws the world's ire
Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez
It took spending several weeks in Mexico to remind us that the news in the United States is a product little different from any well-known brand, and that it comes to us filtered, diluted and highly censored.
Published on LatinoLA: September 13, 2004
This was most evident not simply in regard to the Iraq war, but also to the recent pardoning of four terrorists in Panama and the effort by the U.S.-supported opposition in Venezuela to depose their duly elected leader, Hugo Chavez.
A quick read of virtually any newspaper in Mexico gives one news not just about Mexico, but about the United States, the Americas, Africa and Asia, and the wars in the Middle East. As such, the average reader in Mexico is apparently better informed about the world than the average consumer of U.S. news.
It's difficult to appreciate the amount of censorship taking place in the United States because unless one is the object of that censorship, how would one even know it was occurring?
Censorship is different from the mere slanting of the news. From the view of the U.S. government, the U.S. military is spreading democracy worldwide. The view from seemingly everywhere else is that the United States is militarily intervening and occupying foreign nations illegally, while blackmailing nations into supporting the president's policies.
As a result, the United States appears to be losing allies and admirers fast. Actually, it's not the United States that is the object of scorn. As seen through unfiltered media, it is President Bush and his "arrogant cowboy attitude" that draws the world's ire.
Iraq is the primary focal point of this ire. The gruesome images of war can be seen on television and in newspapers elsewhere, as opposed to here in the United States where they're hidden from the public. The sanitization of U.S. news notwithstanding, and despite the indefinite closure of al-Jazeera, most of the world has been visually exposed to the death and destruction of this war. That may explain why more Americans have not been outraged at the many thousands of casualties -- American, Iraqi, Afghani, Israeli and Palestinian.
In the past several weeks, one of the biggest stories from the Americas that's been given scant coverage in the United States is the continental reaction to the Aug. 25 pardoning of four Cuban American prisoners by former Panama President Mireya Moscoso. The continent is virtually up in arms as a result of Decree 317, which freed Luis Posada Carriles, Gaspar Jimenez Escobedo, Guillermo Novo Sampoll and Pedro Remon Rodriguez. The decree has been widely seen as a re-election gift to President Bush, who continues to court Florida's Cuban vote. The four were serving time for the 2000 attempt to assassinate Cuba's Fidel Castro.
Everyone else appears to see it as but another act of extreme hypocrisy in regard to the "war on terror." The four have an extremely long and brutal history of terrorism across the continent -- from assassinations to blowing up passenger airplanes to assisting U.S.-backed dictatorships. Their release exposes the conflict as a war to consolidate U.S. economic, political and military power. In this instance, the world has gotten to see what "You're either with us or against us" means.
The general reaction throughout the continent has been that if it was a real war on terror, the United States would obviously have denounced, as opposed to encouraged, the pardons. And it wouldn't have laid out the welcome mat for them in Miami.
An even bigger story was Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez's resounding victory against a U.S.-assisted presidential referendum that sought to oust him. Talk on the street throughout the continent is that, unlike the president of the United States, Chavez actually won the majority of the votes ... without the assistance of the courts.
This hostile two-year attempt to remove a duly elected president does not sit well with many of the peoples of the continent, who are already resentful for being bullied on Iraq. Yet there's little that smaller nations can do, other than uniting with Brazil in global forums when confronting the world's only superpower.
Anti-Americanism is not a new phenomenon on the continent, of course. Long before the 1980s -- when the United States was assisting Central and South American dictators -- the U.S. military had already chalked up more than 100 interventions in the Americas since the 1800s.
This time around, the sentiment does not seem to be anti-Americanism, per se, but a direct rebuke of the current president's policies. And this is in the relatively friendly Western Hemisphere. Beyond alerting Americans to the damage this president's policies have done worldwide, it also is a cautionary tale regarding the effectiveness of censorship and U.S. propaganda: It doesn't quite always work.
(c) Universal Press Syndicate 2004
Patrisia Gonzales and Roberto Rodriguez:
The writers can be reached at XColumn@aol.com or 608-238-3161, PO BOX 5093, Madison, WI 53705. Column of the Americas is posted every Sat at: www.uexpress.com/columnoftheamericas/