October 26, 2021


fidelcastro11072014The presence of Vladimir Putin in Cuba, as part of his visit to Latin American countries Argentina and Brazil, reminds us of the Bible’s Matthew 7:15 “beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves”. Both Russia and China are ready to reap the benefits of becoming supporters and allies of our neighboring countries who have been mainly ignored by our nation. Throughout our history, and after the abandonment of the “Monroe doctrine”, Presidents of both parties have talked about the importance of Latin America as part of our foreign policy, proposed several initiatives, and then either abandoned them or did not follow through.

Economically, programs that have been established only served to enrich these countries rulers, and the recent approach of free trade agreements started by President’s Clinton and Bush, have been mostly ignored by the present administration. What has failed is the vision needed to realize the political and economic advantages that a union of our western hemisphere nations would bring. We have always taken for granted our closest friends, looking to influence and cooperate with Europe and Asia. Even in these days when autocratic rulers, under the guise of democratic elections, have taken power, the people still look at the “big brother” in the north with admiration and seek our help. Politically we have gone from assuming the right to change governments by military intervention, to the realpolitik of supporting dictators “he is an SOB, but he is our SOB”, the probably false phrase attributed to FDR, to covertly supporting “revolutionaries”, like Fidel Castro, and then ignoring the human rights abuses. Cuba, Argentina, Venezuela, among others are looking at the overtures of China, Iran, and Russia in order to survive the economic crisis that their systems have produced.

Putin’s visit to our neighboring lands is intended to open an economic and military front in our backyard. China, with its ample capital seeks to help these nation’s currencies in exchange for influence and control. Meanwhile our leaders seem disinterested, practicing a foreign policy that can only be called “reactive”, claiming surprise only after the crisis occurs. Before the danger becomes imminent, we should immediately support the democratic forces present in Cuba and Venezuela, ally ourselves with Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and others through trade agreements, and start joint efforts to eliminate the poverty and corruption present in places like Honduras and Guatemala, whose population is desperate enough to risk all kinds of perils and send their children to our borders as their last hope for survival. Ignoring the problem is not a solution and funding corrupt rulers has also failed in the past. We have to go directly to the roots, with support for education, opportunities for achievements, and more free markets with fewer regulations. If not we will only have ourselves to blame.
Fernando J Milanes MD