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THE AMERICAS: Who leads the Third World?

One ploy in international politics has been posing as the leader of the Third World, The Soviet Union played that card, with Castro as its lieutenant in the Americas. Russian President Vladimir Putin has just visited Castro's Cuba. In his entourage was his Secretary of Defense, about whose conversations no information was given. Putin was careful to point out that his visit was not directed against the United States, but it is reasonable to suppose that he does not oppose the Latin American activities of Castro, now coordinated with those of Fidel's friend President Chavez of Venezuela.

Castro came to power with the support of the blacks of eastern Cuba and made a black, Juan Almeida, a soldier nicknamed "the bronze titan" a member of his politburo and the symbol of the new importance of blacks. Presumably Castro was involved in the protests of American Indians at international conference in Rio, Geneva and elsewhere (an expensive operation). Now blacks are being used instead of Indians. In Brazi, racial discrimination is not blatant and often not even apparent. Suddenly a loud black movement against racism has arisen in Brazil, with noisy demonstrations in Rio and elsewhere. Now a strange thing has happened in Chile, a country which has very few blacks. Sponsored by something called Organización Africanoamericana, there has been a mass demonstration against racism in Santiago. In addition to whatever blacks could be rounded up, there were lots of discontents shouting "I am an African!" (honorary, presumably). It is possible the protest was timed to coincide with the US visit of President Ricardo Lagos. The announcement that Chile would join NAFTA angered Brazil, the leader of Mercosur, which Chile was scheduled to join. Mercosur might now collapse, and with it Brazil's hopes of leading Latin America. The upcoming Summit of the Americas in Quebec, which has the support of the US, is supposed to establish an all Americas free trade association (NAFTA becomes AFTA?), which would gobble up Mercosur.

Mexico dreamed of being the leader of the Third World. As Geirge Grayson has pointed out , it was President Luis Echeverria (1970-76) who, even more than his successor JoséLopez Portillo (1976-82), posed as the champion of the Third World through "the Tlatelolco Treaty, Gringo-bashing at the UN, acutely statist economic policies, 200-mile 'economic zone', and buddying up to Castro. " A Third World Institute, with attractive offices, was set up (it has since disappeared). Now, at a New York ceremony, outgoing president Ernesto Zedillo was named head of a new commission to channel aid to the Third World, an appointment which clearly had the support of the US and of President Fox. How this foxy move will affect Castro, Chavez and their followers in Latin America remains to be seen.

The latest gambit is the appointment by President-elect George W. Bush of Colin Powell as his Secretary of State. As the first Afro-American, proud of his military background, to hold the post, he is not only a model for black Americans, but clearly more a leader of the Third World than any other candidate. We trust that, with his natural dignity, he will not feel obliged to imitate Madeleine Albright, who again, at a party honoring UNICEF, felt obliged to dance and clown to show that she is hip.

This should also set to rest the charge that the election of George W. Bush was the result of an intrigue to disenfranchise Florida blacks. In U.S. News & World Report (12/18/00) John Leo has an excellent essay on this subject entitled "The Selma mind-set." Much as one may sympathize with blacks, this mind-set is strange. One round-table of blacks discussing the upcoming election serious maintained that atmospheric pollution is a conspiracy against blacks. This is quite different from saying that many blacks live in areas of high atmospheric pollution. It is the reductio ad absurdum of the conspiracy theory. This is not to justify the US electoral system or the victory of Gerge W. Bush. As Fidel Castro once said, "History will judge".

Ronald Hilton - 12/17/00