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Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Latin America must stop blaming U.S., start working together

Latin America has a love-hate relationship with the United States. The people in Latin America argue that the United States has both directly caused their poverty and backed up some of the most violent and unlawful regimes in the history of the region. Although some of these accusations are true, the people that make them are often socialist dictators trying to blame the United States for their failures as leaders.

The educational systems in Latin America also describe the United States as a bad country that controls the world. In schools, students are taught that the United States caused misery in Latin America with its numerous interventions. In my opinion, the United States has caused many bad things to happen in Latin America, but the opinion most Latin Americans have against this country is biased.

Let’s first talk about how the Latin American educational system teaches people to reject foreigners. When I was growing up, I was taught that the United States unfairly made up a war to take half of Mexico’s territory and that American companies later took over the whole continent. In Latin America, the educational systems are very patriotic. At some point, they teach you to reject or distrust foreigners. The books Latin American students read in school tell them that everything is better when it is managed by the government.

In Latin America, socialist governments have taken advantage of this idea to expropriate numerous industries. The government of Argentina recently expropriated its oil and gas sectors. In Venezuela, the government under Hugo Chavez began to nationalize numerous industries, from construction contractors to golf courses. Chavez closed golf courses and American hotels and built houses for poor people in their places. In the minds of most people, this was vengeance –– the poor taking back the things that the rich Americans took from them.

But is this right? Usually the government does a terrible job taking on private industries. Corruption grows and union leaders take control of everything. The problem is that Latin Americans do not judge the actions of their governments because for them, kicking foreigners out of the country is good.

Latin Americans dislike the United States because Americans supported the dictatorships of Augusto Pinochet in Chile, Fulgencio Batista in Cuba and many others. From the 1970s to the 1980s, the United States provided help to South American governments to destroy communist organizations. Thousands of people were arrested. After what happened in those years, it is easy to understand why people resent the United States so much.

Yet socialist leaders use xenophobia to hide their own errors. Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela accused the United States of organizing protests against his government. However, the situation in Venezuela is terrible, and blaming the United States for the economic mistakes Venezuela has made is ridiculous. Today in Venezuela you cannot buy more than a certain amount of goods at a time. Supermarkets literally carry no products. Opponents of the government are imprisoned. All these things have been caused by the Venezuelan government destruction of democracy and the economy with expropriations and taxes.

There are many reasons why the Latin Americans still distrust the United States, but they need to realize that they have benefitted from cooperating with them. One example is the North Atlantic Free Trade Association (NAFTA), an economic agreement between Mexico, Canada and the United States. Before NAFTA, Mexico had a trade deficit with the United States, but after the agreement Mexico had a trade surplus and exported more goods to the United States than it imported. The economy of Mexico flourished, and Mexican businesses expanded American markets.

Latin Americans will not forgive the United States just because of free trade agreements, but they should at least try to cooperate with them and ask for advice in things like education and infrastructure. If the United States helps some Latin American governments in areas like these, the country might have a chance to improve its image in Latin America.

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  • S

    Sam ChapmanMay 7, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    EDIT: There was a mistake in yesterday’s publishing; it has now been fixed. The author of this column is Jose Coronado, NOT me.

  • A

    AnonymousMay 7, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    Thanks for generalizing all of Latin America, Sam.