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L.A. … Obama? WTF?

10 October 2009

While the United States has recovered much of its former prestige it lost under the previous (mal)administration since the election of Barack Obama,  there’s a sense in the Latin American blogosphero and media that a Nobel Peace Prize, simply for not being for not being a completely dirt-bag is a bit much.

MercoPress (covering the southern cone and the Malvinas/Falklands) chose to illustrate their coverage of Obama’s prize with a photograph of George W. Bush, captioned “Everybody feared cowboy Bush”… in other words, while it is true that the Norwegian Nobel Committee often awards the prize to those in the midst of a substantial peace effort (in this instance, a return to multilateralism in foreign policy… i.e., normalicy).

While there is a strong sentiment that Obama did not deserve the award, it’s not that the Latin left is in agreement with the lunatic fringe right wing in the United States, nor that anyone particularly disagrees with French President Nicolas Sarkozy (who said the award indicates “America’s return to the hearts of the people of the world”), but rather that “return to the hearts of the people” is not all-inclusive.  This hemisphere still sees the United States as the bully-boy, and — while perhaps treated to less overtly hostile rhetoric — is still treated as the “backyard” of the United States, and that, historically, nothing really has changed, nor is the sense of change anything more than the usual soothing sentiments expressed by every incoming U.S. administration.

Abiding in Bolivia calls it a “sick joke in poor taste” noting  President Evo Morales has not returned his country to the status quo ante, but made significant progress towards peace in his own country and beyond as well:

Chances Evo Morales will ever win the prize after years of painstaking national dialogue and negotiations averting a “civil war”, violent retribution for opposition race violence, as well as the freeing of enslaved native Guarani communities, the first world leader to expel Israeli diplomats in response to the Gaza assault and call for war crimes prosecutions, and passage of a new constitution banning both nuclear weapons and aggressive war? Practically zero.

I guess Morales should start massacring Pakistani villagers if he really wants to get noticed for promoting “Peace”.

The continuing carnage of U.S. government sponsored carnage in Central Asia and the Middle East caught the attention of Abiding’s neighbor to the north, Peru’s Inca Kola News:

This must be that parallel universe they’ve always said existed and we slipped through a wormhole in the time/space continuum without noticing. Ready for this headline coming to a newspaper near you in 2010?

“Nobel Peace Prize Winner Increases Afghanistan Attack Troops by 40,000”

While “home team” and odds-maker favorite Colombian Senator and human rights activist, Piedad Córdoba graciously congratulated the United States President, Radio National de Venezuela called on Obama both to respect peace in her own nation… specially to cancel plans for an extensive military presence in Colombia, and to work for the restoration of peace and democracy in Honduras (another Latin American country where U.S. ideas, and even Obama’s alleged ideals, do not seem to us below the Rio Bravo del Norte to indicate substantial peace efforts.

Venezuela’s “Defensora del pueblo” (People’s Ombudsman), Gabriela Ramírez is quoted by AFP (via La Nacion, Asuncíon Paraguay) as wondering how the president of a country that commits torture under color of law can be considered a man of peace.  News of the Restless also quotes Ramírez´s televised remarks, wondering if there are two Obamas (Obami?):

… Gabriela Ramírez, said today that she considers it a joke on human rights to present the Nobel Peace Prize to the US president, Barack Obama, because he is the head of the most warlike government on the planet.

“We can only understand this if we accept the thesis that there are two Obamas–one the president of the United States, and the other, the idyllic one, who in his speeches promotes peace,” Ramírez said.

For Ramírez, the award is incomprehensible, since it concerns the most polluting and militaristic country on the planet.

“The Nobel Peace prize is for those who work for the planet, not those who expand their war powers with seven military bases in Colombia, promote excessive consumption, and pollute the environment. How can they give a prize for all that?”

Echoing Ramírez, Argentine Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel (1980) was “surpised” that the award would be given to “the president of the most aggressive nation on the planet”.

From here in Mexico, I’ll confine myself to mentioning that Ana Maria Salazar’s daily round-up of national news includes 38 “drug war” murders yesterday.  While it is all to the good that the Obama Administration admits the United States is kinda, sorta responsible for the narcotics trade, it continues to disrupt the peace here, demanding both that Mexicans die in a U.S. financed and armed fight with the very people the country to the north is unwilling to stop arming.

Yeah, it’s great to reward a guy for being willing to kinda try (and for not being as big a dick as his predecessor), but for Latin Americans to accept that he earned this prize, there would have to be more “real” progress.  Jason Dormandy lists five concrete activities that would create some more “peace” in our part of the world.  I don’t think Mexico needs a “Marshall Plan” — which would just be more U.S. interference in Mexico.  What it needs, and what all Latin America needs, is what Benito Juarez said was the way to real… not potential… peace:ç

Between neighbors, as between nations, respect for the rights of others is the way to create peace.

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