Presidential Piñata

When President George W. Bush first ran for executive office in 2000, he ran an unabashedly Hispanic vote mongering ad campaign. One TV commercial featured George seated comfortably on his Crawford porch smugly proclaiming, “I am proud of my Latino blood.” Bush’s Hispanic “nephew,” who made a cameo in his advertisement, also appeared at rallies, generally in Florida or other regions with high Hispanic populations. But this ploy, which undoubtedly left something to be desired at the polls, was not revamped in 2004. After the disastrous Free Trade Conference in Argentina last week, it is unlikely that Bush will ever call for the understanding and sympathy of the Hispanic community again. Bush isn’t known for excellence in diplomatic foreign relations. But the recent events intensify the uneasiness felt over his other international charges. As radical and anti-American as some may have sounded, the thirty three South American leaders President Bush met with last week are far from extreme. Since 2002 the Bush administration has continually pushed Central America, and the rest of the Americas to agree to free trade accords. The White House has claimed free trade “will strengthen our economy at home — benefiting American farmers, businesses, workers, and consumers.” “At the same time, these agreements will promote economic development and democratic governance among our trading partners,” he has said. What the United States has failed to acknowledge is that farmers and those responsible for the production of goods in Central and South America, will inevitably be negatively effected by the exploitative nature of this type of commerce. All critique of free trade aside, the issue of the President’s incompetence in nation building efforts and his lackluster performance at the recent Summit of the Americas in Mar de Plata Argentina remain. The goal of the summit was to resolve differences concerning the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) which currently extends from Canada to Argentina. The President’s sales pitch is that the US will get new business markets and South America will get new jobs. But Latin American leaders weren’t as impressed as President Bush may have hoped. Not only was the U.S snubbed for its presumption in proposing an agreement blatantly slanted in favor of American interests, but President Bush was greeted by the widely publicized rabble rousing of the loud-mouthed leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Chavez is considered to be something of a Che Guavera figure and a thorn in the side of American international relations. While Bush avoided any potentially scathing confrontation with Chavez, the entire summit was tainted by the accentuation of its obligatory nature for the United States. The thirty four countries adjourned the convention after making no headway, other than the typical ambiguities of press conference rhetoric concerning continued efforts to overcome disagreements. But this is a potentially malignant situation and with the refusal of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela to resume talks in April, the U.S has little to go on in propelling the agreement forward, aside from Mexico’s tepid support. President Bush has received the cold shoulder and has done nothing to dissuade disillusioned nations from quickly pointing fingers at the United States. Bush has set the U.S up as the failing arbitrator in the disintegration of trade relations in the Americas by allowing extremists like Chavez to go ahead and slander the U.S in the eyes of the world. The current administration is attempting to pass off furthering American trade markets as the benevolence of a nation eager to see socioeconomic equality in countries which it has historically exploited for inexpensive products. The irony is not lost on any nation involved.