Biden to Guatemala: “Tax the poor, and buy US gas!” A recent visit by America’s Vice President sends foreboding signals to Latin America’s poor.
Where US Vice President Joe Biden goes, trouble follows soon thereafter. So what can the Latin America expect now, as the White House finally focuses on America’s back door? As is usually the case for official visits from Washington dignitaries, each trip seems to have a multiplicity of unseen meanings. Is the Guatemala trip about immigration, or national security, or simply more energy business for Obama agents? Here’s my take on “Obama meets Robin Hood” in the forests of Guatemala.
Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, he’s been in Guatemala on US immigration matters according to the all the news. The VP is supposed to be ensuring the administration’s $1 billion budgetary allotment for stemming Central Americas migrants flowing to the US. However noble and normal this cause may seem though, it sure Biden is not there just to ramrod refugees. With Cold War II afoot, Biden is in Central America to fortify US interests and influence in anticipation of Russia’s next move. For those who do not remember, Nicaragua was a bastion for Soviet presence back in the day, and Guatemala’s ongoing instability makes that country vulnerable still.
Reading this report, where the Vice President suggests Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador tax the already indigent people of those countries, the sentient among us must wonder, WTF? In Guatemala 30% of the population cannot even maintain the minimum caloric intake of food to survive, and 66% are in abject poverty. Apparently the Obama administration’s solution to “reverse immigration” trends is to stir up more civil strife in Central American, or perhaps kill off some weak worker bees in some new Walmart manufacturing paradise. Perhaps the underpublicized US-to-Mexico-to-Central America natural gas pipeline is the real reason for the $1 billion impetus by Obama, and for Biden’s visitation? But I think there's ample reason to suspect Washington is in a triple play mode in Central America.
Buying Strategic Loyalty
Whatever the Obama administrators are up to, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was visiting Cuba, Nicaragua, and Chile and Peru far to the south at the same time Biden and Obama were welcoming their three Central American guests to Washington. Surely Russia’s influence in the region is of major concern to Obama. Russia has created a climate of partnership with many Latin American administrations lately, Cuba’s debt forgiveness by Vladimir Putin last year being a poignant case. As for America’s closest allies in the region, it was Guatemala’s current president, Otto Perez Molina, suggested to the Obama administration at just after Lavrov’s visits, that it would take at least $2 billion to address the core of the Central American immigration problem. Molina, and the leaders of El Salvador and Honduras, met with Obama and Biden at the time, hammering out the rationale that the US spends $20 on border security, so why not spend even more boosting Guatemalan and other economies in the region? On the face of it, infusing these countries with capital for improving life there makes sense. Unfortunately Guatemala is still one of the most corrupt nations on Earth. Why does this sound like the American taxpayer being held hostage?
To spotlight the instability in Molina's government, when a court overturned the conviction of former Guatemalan dictator General Ergain Rios Mont last year, the hopes that freedom might ring in that embattled country were dashed all over again. More to the point, news this week that the Guatemalan president convicted in the US of money laundering, it coincides interestingly with Biden’s visits today. Former President Alfonso Portillo was extradited to the US to stand trial for taking bribes and laundering the funds through US banks, and he served prison time, but now he’s back home. It's certain these issues/developments have not escaped either American, Russian, or even Chinese interests.
The $1 billion Biden has delivered to the so-called Northern Triangle is sure to end up as past billions to the region have. This region is a virtual money pit because of graft, inefficiency, and insolvent ideas. One instance of this In Guatemala involved in recent years a group called CODECA, or “committee for the development of campesinos” (peasants). Authorities accused CODECA of stealing energy from Guatemalan hydroelectric companies, and then selling it to citizens for their own benefit. Past US and EU aid has been misused to the point most experts see future contributions as worthless under the current political situation there. Enter the America-Russia conflict of late, and a potential threat to US influence, makes the game for the US administration even more interesting.
Geo-Strategy Packaged as Aid
It should also come as no surprise that another familiar American politician has his hands in this Central American affair. Arizona Senator John McCain sits on the committee that deals with “Latin American issues.” Business in Guatemala, from agriculture to defense, is intricately connected to US corporations and politicians too. The point is, Guatemala is not exactly a prime recipient of US taxpayer funding for anything. Biden’s longstanding support of the so-called “US War On Drugs” is but one failed association with dubious legislature, but Obama sending $1 billion to a country ripe with corporate and governmental corruption is a PR catastrophe in the making for America. Recent allegations from a Brazilian study on corruption implicate not only Guatemala, but Costa Rica as well. While the poor in Guatemala just keep getting poorer, the money keeps flowing into projects that fail, or to politicians with an interest in ongoing chaos. Ergo my comment on the White House’s “Sheriff of Nottingham” taxation plans for the kingdoms of Latin America. If an evil genius had planned to destroy America’s credibility in the world, and especially in Latin America, said Dr. Evil could not have done better than Washington’s most recent efforts.
I’m also not surprise to find the US State Department rates Guatemala higher than Russia where doing business is concerned these days. This, even though drugs and bride money flow like water to and from my own country to the wrong people in Latin America. As for Obama’s billion dollar confidence in Central American refugee stoppage, I think this is a policy designed to fail just like Joe Biden’s “War on Drugs” in America. The VP’s trip here is not simply about keeping Guatemalans in Guatemala, but more appropriately for the administration, further bolstering ties aimed at energy and security. Without going into intricate detail, the Caribbean and Latin America are all set to be the next Ukraine where gas and money flows in and out. Reading in between the lines of Biden rhetoric in “taxation” story on the Washington Times:
“Corporate America wants to come. The rest of the world wants to come. There’s great opportunities in human capital here. But you have to end once and for all the climate of endemic violence and poverty.”
Business, Business, Business in Latin America
In summary, this bit of Obama outreach has a threefold purpose in my view. First, America’s recent shift away from Asia-centric manufacturing and business will be re-directed back to low wage sectors in Latin America. The original NAFTA bamboozle that destroyed US manufacturing, will be reassessed and will see Obama taking credit for any benefits to US businesses. This State Department announcement of Biden’s trip alludes to this. Biden’s “great opportunities” involve what business calls “human capital,” or in the case of Washington dealings, taking advantage of cheap labor. Secondly, mention of Guatemala’s energy grid is fundamental to understanding how Obama/America business affiliates will benefit. The Keystone oil pipeline on the back burner, the US’s natural gas fracking boom will head to Central America now. Lastly, the west-east conflict rising between America, the EU, Russia, and China has reinvigorated Cold War schisms, and profitability schemas. Short version, American business interests are not refocused on Latin America, one of the three remaining growth markets in the world. It’s America versus the Soviet Union, only without Soviets on the other end of the game.
For people in Latin America all I can say is, duck. If Joe Biden (Obama’s Sheriff) rides into the forest, you’d better pray for Robin Hood.