On President Bush:
I remember when I met George Bush for the first time. It was in Canada during the Summit of the Americas. We shook hands. And I said to him, with a lot of spontaneity and sincerity - and I know very little English - but I said this [in English]: I want to be your friend . . . I was hopeful for about 20 minutes.
On future relations with the United States:
I would love, for instance, to be able to work with the United States, together, and other countries as well, regardless of the ideology, to work in the field of health, for instance, infant mortality, food production. In Latin America, we have 19 million malnourished people . . . Haiti, this is a disaster. Children that die of hunger. Education. So many things that we can do together. Forget about the complexity of ideology. No matter how we think, there's a world waiting for us to tackle injustices. So I wish we can do that together. Well, if we couldn't do all that, at least we can sit down and talk.I continue to be an admirer of Chavez. (I'm expecting my friend Graciela to scold me for this.) Clearly, I live far the Venezuela's reality and I often wish that Rafael Correa would have chosen Lula as his rhetorical and political mentor rather than Chavez. Our world is too full of black and white choices, but Chavez reminds me of one of Kennedy's remarks: that given the choice between Trujillo and Castro, the US would always choose Trujillo. A tragic choice for Cuba and for the Dominican Republic. But Kennedy didn't know any better. If our choice today is between Bush and Chavez or McCain and Chavez, indeed even between Hillary and Chavez, I'll go with Chavez.
Chris O'Connell asked me a couple of days ago if the Correa[/Chavez] plan is not the obvious way out of the neoliberal failures, what is? What sort of democracy can work? I don't hold much faith in the practice of democratic governments. Until a society can offer its people equal educational opportunities (perhaps the three pillars of the French Revolution: liberté, égalité, fraternité), democracy seems to me no more than a rhetorical strategy for demagogues. Venezuela, I am told, spends more on public education than any Latin American country. Sadly, Correa seems not to have any such plan. But even though educational spending isn't necessarily the answer--the US spends a ton and fails--in Latin America a significant investment in public education has got to be more democratic than the system we have today.
Read the entire interview at the Boston Globe website.
And while you're at it, have a look at the piece on the FARC computer files in Washington Post. (The link here is to the Houston Chronicle where the article is republished.) While the piece is typical Orwellian name calling, the comments by readers are interesting, especially the writer who recalls Colin Powell's famous lies about WMDs at the UN. Another suggests that the moron at the Post should actually read the Interpol report about the files.
Bill Moyers has pointed out that during the run up to the invasion of Iraq, the press would cite government sources and then Rumsfield and the rest would hold up the front page of the NY Times to prove the same point that they fed to the press the day before. Soon we will hear that the FARC is buying aluminum tubes somewhere and that Chavez, surely, is to blame.
But let's look at this from a trade point of view. We get our cocaine from Colombia and our oil from Venezuela. Colombia is our friend and ally and Venezuela is our enemy, led by a "demagogue/dictator," however freely elected. We used to get our oil from Iraq, formerly led by another "demagogue/dictator." Still wonder why the Navy is moving in?