Saturday, March 8, 2008

The only loser at the Santo Domingo summit - the gringo Plan Colombia

Posted here, in English is Fidel Castro’s reflection on the March 7 Santo Domingo summit of Latin American presidents, followed by the Romero-McKinley NYTimes report on that historic gathering.

The NYTimes report is wooden, lacking the color and electric atmosphere of the event that was televised live across Indo-Latin America.

As Fidel noted, all the main players shone, and I think he meant also Uribe. Radio La Primerisima’s astute director, William Grigsby V., put it roughly like this: - Uribe is an assassin, but not type who kills for no reason. Uribe is a killer with blood on his hands as Correa accused him to his face, but when he kills he has specific practical reasons and goals in mind. But he is also a brilliant advocate of his own cause, a skilled and spunky debater who can hold his own in any confrontation like the Santo Domingo summit.

Uribe did hold his own on the level of deception, faking it, and showmanship yesterday, especially considering he had few allies in the meeting. Even his good friend Antonio Saca of El Salvador seemed unmoved by his predicament.

Uribe gave a lot of ground, but his concessions were based on cold calculations pitted against risks. Had he not agreed to apologize and to a statement that Colombia would never again send troops into neighboring countries, he risked the adoption of a strong statement specifically condemning his regime and his action.

Likewise, had he not agreed to Daniel Ortega’s demand that Colombian warships cease their harassment and attacks on Nicaraguan fishing fleets in the Caribbean Sea.

Uribe’s response to Ortega on that issue was pathetic, but clever. Yes, he pledged, we will respect Nicaraguan shipping in the disputed waters (the World Court has sentenced that the 82 meridian is not a border defining Colombian maritime jurisdiction (as Colombia pretends), but we can’t pull our navy back because that would give a free hand to drug traffickers! One could almost hear the snickers at that point.

Fidel noted the great significance of the fact that the meeting was a Latin American meeting that excluded the gringos.

That is true. But even more can be said along these lines.

This was an Indo-Latin American meeting. One of the most powerful and memorable events at the meeting came with the intervention of Evo Morales, our only indigenous president. Morales left Uribe eating crow over his infantile charges that Chavez and Correa were guilty of supporting a terrorist drug trafficking mafia in his country. Evo did it ever so softly that it is unlikely Uribe felt the pain until the blood ran down his leg.

The second most important aspect of the gathering, aside from the exclusion of imperialist diplomats, is that it was televised live. Millions of people followed it, especially in Colombia and the countries that had broken relations with Bogota. Millions received a first class education in real politics and could judge the arguments, demands, and performance of their leaders. A marvelous school.

Here in Nicaragua Daniel Ortega’s right wing critics, who had denounced the break in relations with Colombia as evidence he is a puppet of Chávez, ended their day looking like fools. Until yesterday Nicaragua had made zero progress in getting Colombia to back off its belligerent provocations against Nicaraguan boats in the Caribbean off shore fishing waters. The break in relations and making common cause with Ecuador achieved that in a few days.

MRS leader Edmundo Jarquín joined the pro-imperialist chorus of parrots charging that “President Daniel Ortega’s decision seems to me irresponsible, disrespectful, and shameful.” “Irresponsible, because it links two conflicts that have nothing to do with each other, that of Ecuador and Colombia on the one hand, and the maritime border dispute between Colombia and Nicaragua on the other. Irresponsible because it projects a bellicose image of Nicaragua, affecting investment and international cooperation that we need so much to resolve problems of unemployment and poverty.” “It’s a decision that makes Nicaragua look like the “caboose” of President Chávez of Venezuela which shames me as a Nicaraguan.”

Shameful talk indeed for someone who claims to be leading the work of renovating the Sandinista movement! It is clearly a renovation, but very far from being a renewal or a revival of the cause of Sandino and Carlos Fonseca. Those leaders placed anti-imperialism at the forefront of their strategy for winning national self-determination for Nicaragua. They were above all Indo-Latin American internationalists, not liberal reformists whose political outlook dare not scan beyond the borders of Nicaragua.

It is interesting that Jarquín (popularly known as El Feo) has added the term “furgón de cola” to his vocabulary. This term (caboose) is what is generally used in Nicaragua to describe the role of his MRS party because of its parliamentary bloc and pact with banker Eduardo Montealegre’s Liberal Alliance Party (President Bush’ first choice).

Felipe Stuart

Fidel Castro Stresses Rio Summit Results

Havana, Mar 8 (Prensa Latina) Fidel Castro stated that in the recently concluded Rio Group Summit for now peace has been sealed, as has the awareness that we can avert wars between peoples united by solid bonds of brotherhood.

This statement is included in his Saturday article entitled "The One and Only Loser."

Prensa Latina issues below the full text of Fidel Castro's reflection.



The knock-out took place in the capital of the Dominican Republic. We followed every second of the match on Telesur. Nearly all of the Latin American presidents from the Rio Group were there. Ecuadorian

President Correa had announced it the day before. I underscored the importance of this meeting in one of my reflections. It did not take place within the OAS. Most importantly, US diplomats were not in attendance. In one way or another, despite the profound ideological and tactical differences, everyone shone and showed the virtues that earned them important positions in office.

In today's crisis, these positions acquire a stark significance.

The undeniable fact is that, on the brink of armed conflicts between sister nations stemming from Yankee intrigues, for now peace has been sealed, as has the awareness that we can avert wars between peoples united by solid bonds of brotherhood.

While this was taking place in Santo Domingo, Bush was at a meeting in Washington to discuss the transition in Cuba.

Though much still lies ahead, as the meeting on Globalization and Development Problems held in Havana has shown, ultimately, imperialism proved the one and only loser.

Fidel Castro Ruz
March 7, 2008
5:44 p.m.

March 8, 2008

Crisis Over Colombian Raid Ends in Handshakes


The leaders of four Latin American nations embroiled in a diplomatic crisis over a Colombian military raid in Ecuador endedthe dispute on Friday with handshakes and warm embraces at a summit meeting that had earlier been marked by insults and
accusations of treachery.

“With the commitment of never attacking a brother country again and by asking forgiveness, we can consider this very serious incident resolved,” said President Rafael Correa of Ecuador, after shaking hands with Colombia’s president, Álvaro Uribe.

Mr. Uribe had started the day accusing Mr. Correa of accepting campaign funds from the leftist rebel group the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC. Mr. Correa then called Mr. Uribe a serial liar. But by the end of the day at the summit
meeting in the Dominican Republic, an annual gathering of Latin leaders, they declared the crisis over.

The dispute erupted after Colombian forces crossed into Ecuador last Saturday to kill Raúl Reyes, a senior commander of the FARC, and 23 others at the guerrillas’ camp in Ecuadorean territory. Ecuador and its leftist allies Nicaragua and Venezuela
reacted by cutting diplomatic ties with Colombia, a Bush administration ally.

The resolution of the dispute was spelled out in a bland document criticizing Colombia’s foray into Ecuador while recognizing the need to combat illegal armed groups in the region. But images were broadcast throughout the region of Mr. Uribe, who apologized to Mr. Correa, embracing leaders with whom he exchanged barbs for days.

“Our government only wants peace,” said President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, who this week had sent 10 tank battalions to Venezuela’s border with Colombia, called Mr. Uribe a mafia boss and threatened to nationalize Colombian companies in Venezuela.

The easing of the crisis came as Colombia’s Defense Ministry said on Friday that a senior commander of the FARC was killed this week by one of his own men.

A FARC deserter informed Colombian security forces of the death of Manuel Jesús Muñoz, better known by his nom de guerre, Iván Ríos, and brought Mr. Muñoz’s severed hand as proof, said Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s defense minister.

“This is proof that the FARC is falling apart,” Mr. Santos said.

Mr. Muñoz is the fifth senior member of the FARC killed in the past year.

Ecuadorean officials, meanwhile, announced that at least six Mexicans with links to radical groups in Mexico City were visiting the FARC rebel camp when the Colombians attacked.

One of them, Lucía Morett Álvarez, 27, survived the bombardment and remains hospitalized in Quito, Ecuador’s capital. Mexican intelligence officials say she has a history of participating in radical left-wing political groups on campus, though she is not believed to be a guerrilla.

The fate of the other five remained unknown on Friday, Mexican and Ecuadorean officials said. All six had traveled to Quito to attend a convention of leftist groups and then decided to go to rebel camp on the border.

None are believed to have played a military role, officials said. “These are radical political activists,” one intelligence officer said. “There is a thin but important line between that and guerrillas.”

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