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Bush Receives a Warm Welcome in Chile

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Arriving in Chile’s capital of Santiago for the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) forum, president Bush was greeted by 25-40,000 protestors.

You won’t see much about that in American media (you didn’t see the egging of his limo on the way to his inauguration, did you?), but it did happen:

… protesters opposed to George Bush, the war in Iraq and unfettered capitalism marched through the Chilean capital Santiago just before the American president arrived for a weekend summit of 21 Pacific Rim economies.

Bush and other leaders will discuss trade, security, fighting corruption, stronger economic ties – and network with one another – at the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum.

Yesterday, thousands of Chileans took to the streets of downtown Santiago for a government-authorised demonstration to express their disgust over the APEC summit, believing it champions a kind of capitalism that widened the gap between rich and poor.

But most of their outrage was aimed at Bush and the US-led war in Iraq.

Marchers held up posters saying “Bush, you stink”, and ”Terrorist Bush”. Some chanted: “Bush, listen: Chile is not for sale!” and “Bush, fascist, thief, murderer!”

Organisers said 40,000 protesters participated in the march, which took place far from the conference centre where the leaders would gather. Police put the number at 25,000. [Protestors Denounce Bush Before Pacific Rim Summit 11/ 20/04] (Story links open in new windows)

On the issues of trade and "stronger economic ties," the key phrase above is "unfettered capitalism."

For the last couple of decades, the US-dominated IMF and World Bank have been pushing an agenda that increases the wealth of developed nations while reducing the wealth of lesser-developed nations who participate. This compassionate conservatism is non-partisan, and Democrats and Republicans cheerfully and actively support and promote it.

The basic mechanism is what John Williamson of the Institute for International Economics called the "Washington Consensus." His original paper lists ten propositions that summarize the policy steps followed by the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and World Bank in dealing with lesser-developed nations. A few particular propositions jump out:

  • Trade liberalization
  • Privatization
  • Liberalization of foreign cash in-flows (Foreign Direct Investment)
  • Deregulation

Theoretically, these are supposed to improve the well-being of the countries participating, increase international trade and make the world at large a wealthier place, with "all boats rising on the tide."

What they did accomplish was a bit different, although the developed nations did very well.

Privatization of formerly government-controlled industries allowed developed nations to buy most of them since there was little money in the countries gaining the "benefits" of the Western advice.

With little regulation, the privatized industries profited as a rule, but the profits then left the countries where they were generated and these countries ended up poorer in the exchange (look up Bolivia as a well-documented example).

And the ability of capital to freely enter and leave countries at the speed of light precipitated financial crises in East Asia and South America.

As I said, it was non-partisan. Democrat Bill Clinton signed NAFTA and today Republican George W. Bush is pushing CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Area) and the FTAA ( Free Trade Area of the Americas) and "stronger economic ties."

You and I here in America shouldn’t care since we’re in the right location, but Chileans clearly see through the mesmerizing "Free" and we may not have this gravy train to ride much longer.

If, on the other hand, you do think that a "dogmatic commitment to the belief that markets can handle everything" (Williamson’s phrase) is maybe being a little too brainwashed, the next time you hear a politician, pundit or corporate PR practitioner saying "Free Trade," "free market" or "deregulation" don’t just respond with: "Oh, goodie!"

Think about it, instead.

It could be a life-altering experience.


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About Hal

  • Not carried in the US media? That’s a little overstated isn’t it?

    Knight-Ridder wire service has carried the story as seen here in the Charlotte Observer

    The largest protest march since Chile’s police state ended 14 years ago turned violent Friday when demonstrators waged street battles with riot police before President Bush arrived for a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders. … President Hu Jintao. Bush hopes to use the APEC summit to rally support for his … old Soviet flags or Cuban flags, even though protests in Havana today can result in long …

    I’ll be honest and say I did not search any of the 31 KR papers but I bet the vast majority, if not all, carried the same story.

    And the Knight-Ridder list of papers count among them some of the largest dailies, including: Philadelphia Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, San Jose Mercury News, Detroit Free Press, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Miami Herald and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

    That about covers the entire country, East-West-North, and South. Not satisfied? I would think this Associated Press story got a much larger play than Knight-Ridder’s service.

    SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Protesters opposing the visit of President Bush to the Asian-Pacific Economic forum clashed with police early Saturday and stray gunfire left at least three people wounded in working class districts across the Chilean capital.

    The protests began after President Bush arrived Friday for the 21-nation forum. Gunfire left one gas station attendant with a bullet wound to the leg in northern Santiago, while a police officer in a southern suburb also was hit by a stray bullet, Police Cmdr. Enrique Rivera said.

    etc, etc.

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt Hal and believe you’re pressed for time or just lazy (we all get that way), vice being intellectually dishonest.

  • Bug off, Marc – it’s you doing the over-statement.

    What you say is not what I said.

    What I said is still right – one story in one chain still isn’t much coverage. The story is going to be a one-day blip, even though it’s significant.

    But that damned liberal media is going to essentially give Bush a free pass again.


  • OK Hal…let’s put it this way…WHO GIVES A FUCK WHAT CHILE THINKS about us??? I really don’t care what Chile or France or Germany think about U.S. politics!!! And if you do…I guess maybe that’s your PROBLEM! Was CHile attacked on 9/11??? Did CHile have a Destroyer in the gulf that was blown up? Did Chile have embassies that were bombed? I didn’t think so…so really..who cares what they think? Based on the shit that foreign media spewes about America, it’s no wonder that that rest of the world hates us…they think liek you and your ilk!

  • boomcrashbaby

    Deep breath andy.

    Hal, I don’t know if it will help in this instance or not, but there is a site I often refer to when people talk about whether the media is covering something or not.

    At the Newseum, you can see the front page of most major newspapers in 35 countrys. Updated daily.

  • I’m trying bcb…I’m trying…breathe andy…breathe andy…ok..I’m calming down now….

  • boomcrashbaby

    That’s better, I’m sure. Now let’s step back and take a look at the bigger picture here.

    On the one hand, the terrorists, Al-Queda, have been upset for years at the indifference of Americans when it comes to our foreign policy over there. Our response has always been ‘who gives a f*ck what people think over there?’ This response has been going on so long, that they have eventually turned to terrorism to get their point across.

    So…..we need to see what we can do to stop terrorism, right?

    Now, the people in Chile are protesting the imbalance of wealth caused by global capitalism, in which they didn’t get an equal start, and we’ve also got Canadians, the French, Germany, the whole middle east, most of the Pacific Islands (Phillipines, Indonesia, etc.), most of the European citizens, etc. all these people are disgruntled with us, anti-Bush, and harboring deep anti-American sentiment and many of us keep saying ‘who gives a f*ck what they think?’.

    Thinking now…..hmmm…the best way to win the war on terror over the long-term…..hmmmm…what to do….what to do…

  • andy marsh – Blogcritic’s drama queen. Yawn.

    Hal here puts together a post about how a lot of the rest of the world views America – regardless of whether you care or not – and one small media detail is the only part of the discussion, so far.

    Thousands, perhaps millions of other people are concerned that they can get dicked around (and by dicked around I mean they have no control of their own finances) by America, the IMF and the World Bank.

    Again regardless of whether their concerns have any merit or whether you care about the issue, it’s a “real reality” in the world.

    – Temple

  • andy, I guess when you just don’t get it, you just don’t get it, do you?

    This was a post about trade and economic issues.

    If you want to froth and rant about the invasion of Iraq and terrorists, check my post “Iraq Progress Report” elsewhere.

    Or if you want to provide us with information on how successful the “war on terror” under Bush has been, you could do a whole new post.

    And honestly, your problem – whatever it is – is your problem, not mine.

  • BCB, thanks for the link – I’ll check it.

    As far as this post goes, however, the story is going to be a one-day wonder (CNN had a 12-second bit) and then it’s going to sink off the face of the known world (as conceived of by most in America) so it’s unnecessary.

  • Hal “Bug off, Marc – it’s you doing the over-statement.

    What you say is not what I said.”

    Well what did you say Hal, let’s look:

    “You won’t see much about that in American media”

    If the story is on KR that covers 31 newspapers in all four corners of the country and the Associated Press also puts it out on their wire service that every newspaper and TV station receives I would say that refutes your premise of little or no coverage.

    So be it.

  • You lied, Marc, when you began comment 1 with a straw man that implied I had said something I had not said.

    You ended with a gratuitous, pretentious and snide slur.

    So screw you and the intellectual turd you rode in on.

  • boomcrashbaby

    You lied, Marc, ….implied I had said something I had not said.

    *rolling my eyes* what else is new?

    Marc said: If the story is on KR that covers 31 newspapers in all four corners of the country and the Associated Press also puts it out on their wire service that every newspaper and TV station receives I would say that refutes your premise of little or no coverage.

    If 31 newspapers put the story on the front page and cover it extensively, that is one thing. If they put a little blub near the help wanted section, it might still be in 31 newspapers, but that does not qualify as extensive coverage.

    The fact that the protests are far more important to the lives of Americans than a fist fight on a basketball court, but do not get NEARLY the same amount of coverage, alone, substantiates Hal’s claim.

    The rest is semantics from someone who can’t combat logic so goes after verbiage.