Vive Le Canada

A dark underbelly of mass graves and electoral fraud
Date: Friday, March 09 2007

Congress is questioning a Latin American policy that has left George Bush with a best friend who is a major embarrassment

Isabel Hilton
Thursday March 8, 2007
The Guardian

There is little to cheer a US president on a visit to Latin America these days. Where it once enforced its will on the region the US now looks increasingly out of touch. The presidents of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Peru, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile were not elected as friends of the US, and China has quietly filled the economic gap left by seven years of US distraction and neglect.

President Bush's plan for a Free Trade Area of the Americas has faltered; electorates blame free market liberalism for years of stagnation, and high oil prices help Venezuela's Hugo Chávez bid for Fidel Castro's crown as figurehead of the Latin left. When Bush visits Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala next week, he will be received politely, but with little enthusiasm.

Bush will be the first US president to visit Bogota since John Kennedy, and only in Colombia will he find an unconditional friend in President Alvaro Uribe, whom he has praised as an ally and granted billions of dollars in military aid.

But on the eve of the visit, Bush's best friend is becoming his biggest embarrassment. Uribe leads a country mired in corruption, violence and drugs - the source of 90% of the cocaine in the US - and where critics of the government receive death threats and drug barons and death squad leaders win amnesty.

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