Power shift in Latin America

Adrian Salbuchi
Adrian Salbuchi is an international political analyst, researcher and consultant. Author of several books on geopolitics in Spanish and English (including ‘The Coming World Government: Tragedy & Hope’), he is also a conference speaker in Argentina and radio/TV commentator. He writes op-ed pieces for RT Spanish as well as RT English, and is a regular guest on alternative media radio and TV shows in the US, Europe and Latin America. Adrian currently hosts his TV show ‘Segunda República’ on Channel TLV1 – Toda La Verdad Primero – in Buenos Aires, and is founder of the Second Republic Project (Proyecto Segunda República), a sovereign governance model for Argentina, Latin American countries and elsewhere. His website is: www.asalbuchi.com.ar; YouTube channel:www.youtube.com/user/arsalbuchi
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)
Panama is hosting the Seventh Summit of the Americas on April 10-11. Organized by the OAS – Organization of American States – this event will bring together the heads of state and foreign ministers of 34 nations including, for the first time, Cuba.

The back drop

Under the title “Prosperity and Equity: The Challenge of Cooperation in the Americas”, the summit is set to address a myriad of increasingly complex regional issues.Hopefully, it will also bring to the table the impact of global superpower conflicts and maneuvering they are having in this part of the world.

To start, no longer can the US shrug off Latin America as its “backyard” as it did for the better part of the last century.Today, many – though not all - Latin American countries take very clear positions geared at warding off traditional US and British interventionism throughout the region.

This has led the US and its allies to carry out tough – often fierce – counterattacks against those nations that are not towing the line to its interests and that of its allies, notably, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and more recently, Brazil and Argentina.

Other countries, however, continue pretty much aligned to US dictates, in some cases even opening their borders to a direct US military presence: Colombia, Chile, Paraguay, Mexico, Peru and host Panama itself.

Anyway, things won’t be easy for America in next week’s summit which - now that the Catholic Church has a Latin American Pope – will also significantly include the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.Church influence throughout the region still runs high, especially under Pope Francis.

“The Challenge of Cooperation” is definitely not something the US has been good at in our region. For even as the US recently drew surprisingly closer to Cuba –the two countries now on the road to normalizing their diplomatic relations – it has at the same time drawn ever further away from Venezuela, the key oil exporter in the region.

Venezuela has been a tough nut to crack for the US ever since Hugo Chavez was democratically elected as president 16 years ago and grew to become a prime thorn in America’s side as the country just will not automatically align to US interests and demands.Even after Chavez died in 2013, his chosen successor Nicolas Maduro – albeit with a different style – has stayed the course.There is nothing the US would like to see more than “regime change” in Venezuela; into the hands of some puppet like their own darling, opposition leader Henrique Capriles Radonski who lost the previous elections.

After decades of openly orchestrating military and civilian coups against democratic regimes it did not like, as the US did time and again in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia, America’s attempted coup against Chavez in 2002 totally backfired.Indeed, America has lost much of its control over the “backyard”…and America seems to be getting desperate.

Last month for instance, President Barack Obama declared that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela represents “a threat to the National Security of the United States,” prompting him to declare a “state of national emergency” in the US.

Supporters of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro hold a placard and shout during a protest against imperialism, in Caracas March 24, 2015. (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins)

Yet even such PsyWar Operations coming from the president himself are also failing, for quickly the better part of Latin American countries and public opinion closed ranks behind Venezuela, and Venezuelans themselves have gathered over 6 million signatures petitioning the US to mind its own business and not meddle in its internal affairs.

This sudden anti-Venezuela frenzy from Washington appears to reflect its growing readiness to address the vast disruptions that may soon be taking place in the Middle East if and when Israel finally keeps its word of unilaterally launching an all-out military attack against Iran - especially now that ultra-hawk Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected prime minister of Israel. And now that the G5+1 Powers and Iran seem to have struck a deal with Iran on its nuclear program.

During his speech in the US Congress on March 3, he told American lawmakers, the American people, and the world at large, why the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama Administration “is so bad,” for “it doesn’t block Iran’s path to the Bomb; it paves Iran’s path to the Bomb…”. The message was clear: Israel’s prime minister knows much better than the US government what foreign policy measures are best for America.

Global War

This all puts Israel’s ultra-right neocons in a bit of a fix. But they still count on the support from their Republican neocon brethren in Washington, with Republican pro-Israel warmongers like Republican Representative (Texas) Louie Gohmert of the “Israel Allies Caucus,” stating “It’s time to bomb Iran,” and Senator John McCain adding that after “the Iranian nuclear deal, (the Israelis) may have to go rogue,” adding that “a lasting peace with Iran could greatly limit our ability to bomb it.” (sic!)

Clearly, in today’s globalized world we need to expand our vision and adjust our geopolitical focus in order to better understand what is really happening, and what this apparent over-reaction by the US against Venezuela is really telling us about impending global war.

In preparation for such a coming new mega-war in the Middle East that would cause all sorts of disruption to the US and its allies, especially in vital oil supply routes coming from the Persian Gulf where Iran controls the strategic Straits of Ormuz, the US seems to be “preventively” looking at other alternative sources of oil… much closer to home: in Venezuela, for instance.

If Israel honors its repeated threats and does carry out a unilateral military attack on Iran’s nuclear installations – now that Netanyahu’s been re-elected and a nuclear deal’s been struck with Iran - then Iran will no doubt retaliate with its own devastating military strike against Israel.

We know only too well, that if that occurred, Western media outlets aligned with Israel, would aim their cameras at what will sadly be horrendous scenes of death and devastation over Israel.These would have the effect of generating strong currents of sympathy, solidarity and support for “little Israel” throughout the West, especially in the US. That would, in turn, have the effect of dragging US public opinion and that of its key allies in favor of giving Israel full military support, whether the White House wants to or not.

That would be the time to strike at Venezuela too, which the US will explain to the “international community” saying it’s all be in the name of “democracy”, “human rights” and “freedom”. The effects for Venezuela would be as devastating as the “democratic” and “freedom fighting” operations launched by the US against Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan.

To add insult to injury, the US counts on the support of groups of well financed, armed and trained agents, traitors, narco-traders and criminals deeply embedded inside Venezuela - as in the rest of Latin America - that will work against Venezuela, its people and legitimate government.

It would be a redux of the scenario we saw with the so-called “freedom fighters” in Libya in 2011 and Syria in 2012/13, today transformed into “ISIS / Islamic State”: in the words of US General Wesley Clark, the “Frankenstein monster” created by the US and its allies.

Other global players

US activities in the Middle East, Central Europe and Latin America have triggered increased activity on the part of Russia and China in the South Atlantic and throughout all of South America. China has not only been investing heavily in our region, it also absorbs huge chunks of critical industrial raw material and foodstuffs from countries like Brazil and Argentina and, in turn, supplies major infrastructure equipment to the region, displacing traditional US, European and Japanese suppliers.

Last year, for instance, Argentina made a major renewal of its passenger rolling stock on four major railway lines in Buenos Aires with brand-new Chinese units.Both countries also agreed major Chinese financing for hydroelectric plants in the Patagonian province of Santa Cruz and to set up a satellite tracking station in Neuquén Province, which can potentially be put to military use.

This clearly sent red lights flashing at the Pentagon, as did the reports in the media about an alleged agreement between Argentina and Russia to trade Argentine beef and wheat for a fleet of 12 modern state-of-the-art Sukhoi Su-24 fighter bombers replacing old Argentine Air Force jets. Reports have recently been denied by the Argentinian Defense Ministry. Buenos Aires’s plan to renew its fleet, however, made the UK nervous, prompting its Defense Minister Michael Fallon to announce a $S417 million upgrade of Britain’s military base in the Falkland/ Malvinas Islands over which the two countries fought a short but violent war 33 years ago.

Clearly, America does not like to see Russia and China striking these kinds of deals with its southern neighbors, just as those same southern neighbors do not like to see the US South Atlantic Fleet revamped by the US in 2008, roaming the coasts of South America; working together with its strongly entrenched UK ally in the Falklands fortress, all poised to jump to Antarctica and - why not? - even to mainland Patagonia itself at a moment’s notice if global geopolitical crises were to warrant it.

Meanwhile, consolidation continues of the vast oil reserves now being exploited by US, UK and EU oil companies off the Argentine coast near the Falklands.

Reuters/Rick Wilking

Thus and for the first time in history, in today’s vastly complex political, military, media and economic global power system, indeed “everything does have to do with everything else.”

America is poising itself to grab Venezuela’s oil if a generalized war breaks out in the Middle East, which would close down oil routes from the Persian Gulf.The South Atlantic Fleet does represent “powerful persuasion” against Brazil and even Argentina if these two countries continue to cozy up to Russia and China a little too much for Washington’s and London’s taste.

Our global system is, after all, a closed system where private power, military clout and geopolitical interests call the shots. None of the key players in this growing conflict feels comfortable with showing their cards at high profile meetings, be it at the UN, the European Council, or in meetings like the Summit of the Americas.

So we should not expect any grand gestures next week. There will be many handshakes and photo-ops; there will be images of smiling presidents, prime ministers and diplomats meeting in Panama. Why, there may even be a “memorable handshake” between Cuban President Raul Castro and US President Barack Obama as thousands of cameras flash for headline news reports.

But that’s just for tomorrow’s headlines. What makes this global system tick, however, is much less visible, much more subtle, and incredibly far more powerful.

Indeed, the proverbial butterfly flapping its wings today somewhere in the world capitals might be about to unleash fire tornados, military tsunamis and rivers of blood in faraway coasts.

So, look around, read between the lines and the fine print, because that’s where the headlines we’ll be reading within weeks and months are presently being brewed.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.