Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: Burning issues, burning buildings .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Burning issues, burning buildings

Not quite a news flash - the other Americas don't like Bush either. At the fourth Summit of the Americas, he tried to push for inclusion of a plug for the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas in the official communique of the Summit, while his opposition used the opportunity to bash him and his policies.

His most outspoken opponent, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, spoke to the thousands of protesters down the street from the Summit, vowing to bury the FTAA, which he says is good for big business but does little for the millions of poor and unemployed in the region.

Also at odds with Bush is Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, the host of the event. Kirchner hoped to get Bush's support for more flexible terms with the International Monetary Fund for his impoverished country, to no avail. 43% of Argentina's 36 million people live at or below poverty levels, while these guys posed for photo ops at a seaside resort.

Meanwhile, outside the Summit, what began as thousands of peaceful protesters, turned into a handful of violent demonstrators, who broke windows and threw molotov coctails at businesses. Protest organizers complained that this violence drew legitimacy away from their cause, which was to use the Summit to bring attention to the plight of their people and stop the FTAA.

All in all it was an anti-Bush day, kinda like it is around here every day. Not only has dubya alienated most of the rest of the world, but our own neighbors as well. And it's all because he wants the biggest slice of the pie to go to his cronies. And he wants all the oil. Oh, yeah, democracy too. But the 34 nations involved in the Summit are already democracies, so he doesn't care what happens to them, as long as they sell us their oil. And stay on their side of the border.

He doesn't seem to see that the best way to keep illegal immigration down is to help improve conditions in the immigrants' home countries. And free trade agreements won't do that. They'll just help the rich get richer, and widen the gap between the haves and the have nots, which will increase the tide of economic refugees into our country.

So instead of spending billions on propping up pseudo-democracies and building a really, really long fence, we should be using that money to help build social and economic systems that will actually help the millions of people in the region.

Only then can we truly be called the leaders of the free world.


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