Representatives of the Latin American “axis of moderation” are already moving to lessen the impact of the recent fiasco of FARC and the praiseworthy resistance of the Colombian people. That axis is helping to legitimize rulers and movements of the extreme left while neutralizing reactions
1. Latin America has seen the gradual formation of a center-left “axis of moderation” made up of incumbent leaders and a newly elected president. Their words, actions and omissions help strengthen radical leftist groups and anesthetize wholesome reactions on a national and international level.
2. Brazil’s “moderate” president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has an ambiguous policy toward the FARC, to say the least. This was recently highlighted by Brazilian analysts when Ingrid Betancourt was freed together with 14 other hostages. Those analysts recalled that Lula has always refused to recognize FARC as a terrorist organization. He has been extremely discreet about their incursions into Brazilian soil and has even offered them “neutral” territory in Brazil for possible negotiations between the FARC and the Colombian government.1}
His first statement after Mrs. Betancourt was freed was to call for “reconciliation among all Colombians.” Such a move would help the guerrilla movement precisely when it is having a particularly tough time. In fact, opening negotiations at this point would help them recover from their wounds.2
At the end of June, President Lula met with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and signed 21 trade accords. On the occasion, both exchanged praise and claimed relations between the two countries are now on “an ideal level as never before in our history.”3 Lula’s diplomatic support has helped to provide decisive international backing for Chavez at a time when he has lost much prestige. The support of the Brazilian leader also has been decisive in the serious crises which the Venezuelan government faces and helped sap the psychological strength of Chavez’s opponents who rightly denounce the growing lack of freedom in their country.
Besides supporting FARC and Chavez, the Brazilian government also supports the Cuban communist regime. In this regard, Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim, in an official two-day visit to Havana, said that the Brazilian government wants to become the communist regime’s “number one partner.”4
3. On his part, the “moderate” president of Uruguay, Tabare Vazquez, has put together a center-left government since his inauguration. He recently had kind words for the Cuban dictatorship during a trip to Havana with a large delegation of government and corporate leaders. He also refused to meet with representatives of the Cuban opposition, many of whom were arrested a few days later.5
President Vasquez’s first foreign policy decision was to resume diplomatic relations with communist Cuba. Such conduct typically illustrates the role of a “moderate” leftist leader who plays the game of the radical communists.
4. Along the same lines, the “moderate” newly elected president of Paraguay, former Catholic bishop Fernando Lugo, corrected earlier positions taken during his election campaign by assuming a milder leftist profile and denying he would follow the extreme line of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, or Bolivian President Evo Morales. Nevertheless, on his first tour as president-elect he traveled to Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela, countries whose leaders are the most active figures of the radical Latin-American left.
In reassuring statements made in La Paz, after meeting with Evo Morales, he denied the existence in Latin America of an “axis of evil” made up by extreme leftist governments.6
5. The Latin American “axis of moderation” might be strengthened if Barack Obama wins the November elections in the United States. In an interview to the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio, Obama announced that if elected he will encourage “dialogue” with Castro’s Cuba and Chavez’s Venezuela, which he described as a “manageable” threat.7
If these announcements are confirmed, Obama will become a column of support for the Latin American “axis of moderation” which is legitimizing extreme leftist movements and anesthetizing the reactions they produce.
6. In this context, there are surprising revelations by Spanish foreign minister Michael Angel Moratinos. The minister was summoned by his country’s Parliament to explain why his government recently encouraged the European Union to lift sanctions on communist Cuba, even as the regime, in spite of seemingly liberalizing economic measures, continues to smother political and religious freedoms. Moratinos justified himself by alleging that the Vatican had told him the Spanish position to lift sanctions on communist Cuba was “the suitable thing;” and he made clear that representatives of the Holy See had “intervened to have other European countries support us in lifting the sanctions.”8
7. For public opinion in general, it is not difficult to perceive the damage the extreme left causes in the Americas. However, it is a lot more difficult to perceive the political and psychological damage caused by the temporizing and conniving attitudes of the “moderate” left favoring a gradual and anesthetic slide of the continent towards more radical positions.
This “axis of moderation” issue is one of pivotal importance for the survival of freedom on the continent and, at the same time, one of the least analyzed by political observers so far. If Lenin were alive today, more than talking about “useful idiots” he might say “useful moderates” – very useful indeed to favor the political maneuvers analyzed in this editorial.
8. The recent freeing of the hostages in Colombia turned out to be a huge political and psychological setback for the FARC and for all those who have supported and tried to defend the movement directly or indirectly. This defeat of the narco-guerrillas is also a great encouragement for the Colombian people, who have heroically resisted unparalleled violence and cruelty for many decades.
9. Related editorials:
* Chávez y su aliado Lula, el “anestesista general”
* Lula: ¿ “moderado-útil” al servicio de Chávez?
* El “método Lula” de resolución de conflictos: ¿a quién favorece?
- Gabriel Manzano Filho, “Brasil ‘não fez uma clara defesa da democracia’ – Especialistas criticam ambiguidade brasileira no episódio,” O Estado de S. Paulo, 07/04/08.
- Marina Mello, desde Brasilia, Redação Terra, “Farc: Lula espera que resgate leve paz à Colômbia,” 07/04/08.
- AFP, “Lula e Chávez firmam 21 acordos de integração em Caracas,” 06/26/08.
- EFE, desde La Habana, “Brasil quer ser ‘parceiro número um’ de Cuba, diz Amorim,” Folha On Line, São Paulo, 05/30/08.
- Cf. AFP, “Ex presidente Lacalle calmó a cubanos de Miami enojados con Tabaré Vazquez,” Diario Las Américas, 07/04/08.
- Carlos Valdez, Associated Press, “Lugo no cree que haya ‘eje del mal’ en Sudamérica,” El Nuevo Herald, 06/15/08.
- AP, “Obama diz que quer trabalhar com Brasil por energia limpa – Em entrevista a jornal chileno, senador afirma que Chávez é uma ‘ameaça administrável,’” O Estado de S. Paulo, 06/12/08.
- AA.VV., “Cuba: El Vaticano intercedió ante algunos Gobiernos europeos en favor de la eliminación de las sanciones,” Europa Press, 05/26/08.