Gandásegui, The summit that got tied up on the road to Damascus

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Pence in Lima. White House photo.

The summit that got tied up on the road to Damascus

by Marco Gandásegui, hijo

Amidst the speeches of the Latin American presidents who attended the VIII Summit of the Americas in Lima, the vice president of the United States, Michael Pence, stood up and left the large meeting room. In another venue they had prepared some television screens so that they could watch the bombings that President Donald Trump had ordered against Syria. At the summit some presidents conspired to attack Venezuela and in Washington the order was given to launch 108 missiles at Damascus. According to the Syrian government and the Russian military in Syria, 83 were intercepted and rendered useless.

Trump had announced that he would not attend the Lima Summit because he was busy with his plans to attack Syria. Trump has also said that a military attack against Venezuela is on his agenda. If President Nicolás Maduro insists on developing policies in favor of Venezuelans and holding elections almost every year, he may be the target of an invasion. Like the United States enlisting the help of the United Kingdom and France to attack Syria, Trump seeks to mobilize Colombia, Argentina and perhaps another country to serve as a screen for the troops of the Southern Command against the homeland of Bolívar.

The Latin American presidents gathered in Lima could not make a statement about the current situation in the region. Bolivian President Evo Morales spoke out against the aggressive plans of the United States and its partners. In his speech the Argentine president, Mauricio Macri, who would have opened the floodgates to attack Venezuela, did not achieve his purpose. Opposition to the maneuvers against the government in Caracas did not find echo among the majority of the presidents. It may have generated doubts among the supporters of the Group of Lima.

The president of Panama, Juan Carlos Varela, had promised to enact the summit’s agreements into law. Following the US example, Varela ‘sanctioned’ the leaders of the Venezuelan government and some companies in that country prior to the summit.

The Panamanian delegation lost the opportunity to use the summit pulpit to reject the bombing of Syria and the threats against Venezuela. Almost 30 years ago, in 1989, Panama was subjected to a cruel and unnecessary bombardment by the United States. In just Panama City (the neighborhood of El Chorrillo) almost a thousand bombs hit, causing many deaths (the exact number is unknown).

The cause behind the US invasion of Panama was internal and external. On the one hand, President Bush (father) wanted to demonstrate to the American electorate that he was a “macho man.” On the other, he kidnapped General Noriega, who during the 1980s had been a US partner in international espionage.

Currently, Trump uses military force to agitate his internal supporters and intimidate his allies and foes abroad. In November of this year, the United States holds partial elections and Trump is determined not to lose them. He has to repeat his triumphs in the most difficult states where there is a lot of unemployment. Generating wars abroad can create jobs through the demand more and more weapons. Saudi Arabia has already promised to buy $200 billion in weapons over the next four years.

Abroad, Trump pressures US allies to buy more American weapons to attack enemies created by media campaigns (Syria, Ukraine, North Korea and Venezuela). At the same time, the United States imposes sanctions on Russia (punishing companies in that country) and China (raising tariffs on imports from the Asian giant).

No wonder Trump did not find the time to participate in the Lima Summit. He was busy dealing with matters that he considers most important. Among them, reconsideration about whether to reincorporate the United States to the Trans-Pacific Pact free trade agreement. In the near future, the ALCA free trade project for the Western Hemisphere may be revived. But among the countries most opposed to this latter trade pact were Argentina and Brazil, today supporters of Washington’s initiatives.

Despite the mistakes, Panama can still correct its missteps. On the one hand, it can serve as an intermediary to find solutions to conflicts. On the other, it can contribute to unite the region around development projects that benefit all of its people.

 

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