From our great Congress, a resolution:
Top U.S. officials who avoid confrontation with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should exchange their passivity for a more forceful Latin American policy, Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) said in an exclusive interview with the Cybercast News Service.
Otherwise, rogue nations and terrorists will continue to use Venezuela as a conduit for dangerous enterprises that jeopardize U.S. interests, the Florida Republican argued. As it stands, Iran’s influence in the region is already growing at a quick pace thanks in large measure to the Chavez government, said Mack.
In October, Mack worked with colleague Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.) to help pass House Resolution 435. It calls on the U.S. government to combat the influence and clout that Iran and Hezbollah now exercise in Latin America.
Mack declined to comment on specific details as they relate to the military arrangement between Iran and Venezuela. However, he indicated that U.S. officials need to entertain “more severe polices” towards Venezuela in the near-future, if they do not otherwise re-kindle key alliances in the region.
Yeah, those damned terrists are everywhere!
And that was all I could find in the news when I googled and googled. Of course, I didn’t really find this in the traditional media at all — I was tipped off to the story by Nezua over at The Unapologetic Mexican, who found out something interesting that I don’t believe was covered at all in our illustrious press. And he got this information from An Army of Jose (BoRev.Net), who mentions a fabulous speech given by Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY) which gives a very different and, I think truly Progressive response to this resolution. An Army of Jose gives us the entire text of Serrano’s speech which says, in part (and I know I’m quoting a lot of it, but Serrano’s words are easy to read and worth it!):
Mr. SERRANO. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about an issue that troubles me quite a bit and I think should trouble a lot of the American people. Certainly it should concern Members of Congress.
A resolution was passed this afternoon by voice vote dealing with the alleged involvement and behavior of the President of Iran, therefore, the Government of Iran, in Latin America and supporting, according to this resolution, terrorist activities in Latin America.
Let me briefly read the opening statement of this resolution, the title, if you will: expressing concern relating to the threatening behavior of the Iranian regime and the activities of terrorist organizations sponsored by that regime in Latin America.
Well, just to deal with language itself, we know that when our government calls another government a regime, it is not saying anything positive about it. It is, in fact, confronting it in some way. But I think that as unnoticed as this went by, as I said it was passed on a voice vote, as unnoticed that this went by, this puts us in a situation, the Congress, the American people, our Nation, on a road, on a path to a very dangerous situation in the future, perhaps in the near future.
My concern is that this resolution today moves away from just a concern about the behavior of the Government in Iran and begins to suggest that there are neighbors of ours, and, yes, I say neighbors, because that’s what the Latin American people are, neighbors of ours, that could be involved in this behavior, behavior which would be dangerous to the United States, behavior which we all should be concerned about, behavior that, perhaps, would lead us to get involved in Latin America in a way that we haven’t been involved for a long, long time.
While our country paid a great deal of attention to Asia, Europe and the Middle East, we neglected Latin America. That is a fact. That is not Congressman Serrano from the Bronx, New York, just making those comments to sound nice at this time of night. That’s a fact. We neglected Latin America, and they suffered, and still do, through some very difficult periods.
And during the Cold War, it was really interesting. We would go to Latin America and we would say, General So-and-So, Senor, do you support communism in the Soviet Union or do you support our style of government? And those generals would say, oh, no; we support your style. We would say, great, you’re our friend. We’ll see you in a couple of years. And meanwhile, they mistreated their folks; they ransacked the country. But it didn’t matter to us because they were not for communism. They were not to the left of the political spectrum. They were not for socialism.
During that time, however, we would say something very positive. Every so often we would kind of knock them on the shoulder and say democracy is the most important thing. Nothing is as important as democracy.
Well, you know something? They’ve tried it all in Latin America. They tried military dictatorships. The people didn’t try it. They were the victims of it, and it didn’t work. Then they tried regular dictatorships, if there’s such a thing different from a military dictatorship. But it didn’t work either. The people suffered, but the ones who tried it didn’t work. Then they tried something new for Latin America in many cases, new to some countries, new to many countries. They tried democracy. They elected folks. But they elected folks who were very much tied to international corporate interests, who got elected, many in questionable elections, and then neglected the people, neglected the people. And the people found out that they had elected people, they had done everything they were asked to do, and they were getting poorer and poorer every day. So what have they done in the last couple of years? They’ve elected left-of-center candidates in Chile, in Argentina, in Ecuador, in Bolivia, in Venezuela. And these folks have been, and are, revolutionaries. They, themselves, claim to be revolutionaries, and that, again, we hear that word, that upsets us. We forget that this great system we have here was created through a revolution against the British. But we were the last ones to use that word in a way that we liked it. Now anybody who calls himself a revolutionary we get upset about. But these people are revolutionaries. They’re trying something new in Latin America. Embarrassing as it may seem, it is new to many countries in Latin America, this whole notion that the person at the bottom, the person who’s been suffering for years, the indigenous people, the darker skinned people, that they would now have an opportunity to have something better.
Now, and this is important what I just mentioned about the fact that in Latin America, the darker skinned folks are beginning to feel that they have a stake in their system.
When Secretary of State Colin Powell, one of the greatest Americans (Ed. well, I might quibble with that a bit!), left the administration at the last, the end of the last term, he came before our Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State, and I was the ranking member at that time. And he said to us something very important when he was talking about Latin America. He said, the big change in Latin America, and what we Americans need to understand, now he didn’t say it was good. He didn’t say it was bad. He didn’t say it was a problem for us. He just said it was something that was happening in Latin America, that we as Americans have to pay attention to. He said, those folks are beginning to elect people who look like themselves. Now, that’s a heck of a statement by a very intelligent man who has a good understanding of the world. I don’t know if that upsets some of us, but I think it does upset some folks in this country and throughout the hemisphere, that countries that are composed primarily mostly of indigenous people and people of color have now decided to elect people who look like themself, people who come from them. And when they decide to make changes that are very dramatic and, yes, very revolutionary, we get upset because it doesn’t serve the corporate interests of a lot of American corporations.
Now, here’s the question I have: Didn’t we tell Latin American countries to use the democratic process? Isn’t that what we always said was the bottom line? Everything else could be negotiable, we said at times. But democracy was the bottom line. Even when we didn’t practice it, as I said before, we did say this is what you must do. Now I just read you three examples of people who have used the democratic system to reach their positions. So why are we attacking them continuously on the House floor? Once a month we get a resolution here attacking somebody in Latin America instead of getting close.
Now, what we don’t understand is that this whole situation with Latin America’s electing people who are left of center is because the people are tired of the poverty, tired of the pain, and they now have leaders who at least in what they have attempted to do up to now indicates that they want to balance off the wealth of those countries. Balance off.
And let me reach the last few minutes here by telling you why I think this is extremely dangerous.
It is pretty clear around here that we are beating the drum towards war with Iran. That’s no longer an alarmed behavior. I’m not trying to alarm people into feeling nervous, but I think most American people are hearing a lot of what they heard before we went to Iraq. And you know that Iraq has been a very, very difficult situation for us, and we don’t know when we will be able to get out of Iraq. And now there is this drumbeat, both inside and outside the Congress, throughout the country, but coming from the government, from the White House, coming out of the President’s office, coming out of the Vice President’s office, that we have to somehow confront Iran. That’s a problem all by itself. And it’s a horrible problem that we could be discussing here for hours.
But my concern, and my reason for speaking on a resolution today, a resolution which was introduced primarily by Democrats, and I know this is not something we usually do, speak against members of our own party, but we can all be nervous about a situation because on both sides of the aisle people are marching forward to war with Iran.
So, now we link these other countries. What does that mean? Does that mean that we now have an excuse to go and try military action against Bolivia? against Argentina? against Ecuador? against Venezuela? Is it because, indeed, they’ve earned the right, if you will, of having us react that way, or is it because we’re using Iran as an excuse to deal with other things we wanted to deal with in the first place, which is getting at these folks.
I highly recommend reading the entire speech. Serrano also talks about Cuba and how that is linked to the present situation. This resolution passed, and Serrano courageously speaks up to his own party, the Democrats, and rightfully so. Knowing this misAdministration, how it works, does anyone doubt they’ll shoot first and answer questions later?
I am hardly an expert, or even terribly knowledgeable, about the history of the US and our neighbors to the south. I am not a big fan of Hugo Chavez. I am also not a big fan of Iran. But I do believe that the time for US imperialism is over, the time where we used entire countries as pawns in a “greater battle,” first against the Soviet Union and now, ostensibly, against Terrists. We have burned too many of our bridges and we are no longer trusted by the international community. Our corporations are raping the earth and will continue to do so unless they are stopped. And we have seen, as with Bush’s tepid response to the situation in Pakistan and elsewhere, the highly touted rhetoric in favor of democracy for other countries is only that, rhetoric.
I like what Serrano has to say. He makes sense. And it’s really too bad our traditional media doesn’t think this speech was worth covering. That’s why I’m so grateful for da blogs.