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MIAMI Links Latin American oligarchies to the United States

understanding Miami:
Most of U.S. trade with Latin America is done through Miami's ports. Over 1,000 weekly flights link the area with the subcontinent and more than 550 American corporations have their Latin American offices in the city. There are 99 banks in Miami, where a large part of the private capital that migrates from the region is deposited. Latin American investors receive legal and technical counseling. The area has also created a reputation for money made from drug traffic, arms sales and other illicit deals.
FTAA in Miami
Miami: Capital of Latin America

By Jesús Arboleya Cervera

Miami hopes that with the creation of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) its alleged role as the capital of Latin America becomes official. If the city is not able to lay claim to this based on culture, identity and history, it might be able to do so based on the role it plays linking existing Latin American oligarchies to the United States.

Most of U.S. trade with Latin America is done through Miami's ports. Over 1,000 weekly flights link the area with the subcontinent and more than 550 American corporations have their Latin American offices in the city. There are 99 banks in Miami, where a large part of the private capital that migrates from the region is deposited. Latin American investors receive legal and technical counseling. The area has also created a reputation for money made from drug traffic, arms sales and other illicit deals.

Miami is home to the two largest Spanish speaking TV networks in the continent, home to the most heard commercial music; and the city has become the nucleus of the Latin American political right. Any attempt to change Latin America's dependency on the United States will find an adversarial nest in Miami. The place is a refuge for any rightist politician fallen and disgraced; so many of them prepare for this in the event of such an event.

The Cuban American right is the main beneficiary of this situation. The control they exercise over the city makes it the natural link between the Latin American oligarchy and the American establishment. It would be erroneous to believe that the Cuban American right is interested only in the Cuba issue, for they are very active in other areas related to the U.S. and Latin America. The source of all of this can be traced to the counterinsurgency role played by Cuban immigrants against the revolutionary processes during the 60s and 70s, later on adopting a more integral character in the counterrevolutionary activity against Nicaragua, El Salvador and most recently Venezuela, for example.

At present, the role of the right in U.S. policy for Latin America has been increased as a result of the commitment of the Bush administration with that sector and the lack of priority the government gives to the region; due in part to situations it has had to deal with in other regions of the world. This vacuum has been filled by the Cuban American interests and has given birth to what critics of the administration have called the "Cubanization" of Washington's Latin American policy.

The active participation of Cuban Americans in the design and implementation of this policy is not its only goal, but the use of Cuba as a reference and pressure factor on the area's governments. The degree of independence of those governments is defined by the position they have on Cuba. This issue has caused conflicts in the bilateral relations of the U.S. with some of those countries: be it as a rejection from different sectors of the area due to their solidarity with Cuba; because they are offended by such intromissions; or, simply because their interests are affected due to the extraterritorial character of these impositions.

Currently, it seems that the United States is in a phase of observation and not action checking out what's happening in Latin America, hoping to control the situation without having to resort to gross intervention that would place the existing supranational domination mechanisms in a crisis. The prioritization of the Cuba issue has eroded the U.S. administration's work as demonstrated by its annual effort to obtain a condemnation vote of Cuba at the UN Human Rights Commission, and the resulting isolation it suffers on its economic blockade policy.

For the Cuban American extreme right this is all part of the same package. The existence and the superiority of these groups in South Florida, as well the exaggerated protagonism it has on U.S. foreign policy, depend on its intransigency against Cuba. Perhaps it's the reason for its efficacy as a link with the American establishment. The permanence of governments of the extreme right in Latin America is an indispensable prerequisite, for they are historical allies. They promote neoliberalism because they only serve as representatives of U.S. transnationals in the area.

Otto Reich, the Cuban advisor to the President on issues concerning Latin America, is not only an ideological and political instrument of the Cuban American extreme right, but also its trade representative. In fact, he had that official capacity in Florida before Reagan appointed him to head the infamous "public diplomacy" experiment that blew up with the Iran-contra scandal. Later on, he worked for those same interests as ambassador in Venezuela - which explains his deep dislike for the Chávez government - soon thereafter lobbying in Washington for Bacardi, as well as promoting the Helms-Burton law, which was designed to back the restorative intentions of the old Cuban oligarchy.

Latin America is a region in an ebullient state, the causes of which does not depend on the Cuban revolution, but are the result of a domination system in crisis. With the end of the Cold War, the United States thought that conditions were ripe for the imposition of neoliberalism which would help control the region through the mechanisms of representative democracy. But neoliberal policies weakened national governments and limited their ability to face domestic problems generated by neoliberalism itself. In some cases, popular demands for reforms were channeled through the access to government, as in the cases of Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina, generating more or less intense contradictions with the U.S., which is faced with the dilemma of respecting the rules of the game or breaking them, as it is happening in Venezuela. In others, as in Bolivia, contradictions are a sign of danger to the integrity of the regime.

The obsessed intransigency of the United States in relation to Cuba worsens domestic and continental contradictions, weakens the subordinate governments and affects the U.S.' ability for dialog with the different conflicting sectors, particularly when the policy is questioned in the country itself. Placed on the side of the extreme right, the United States has turned the Latin American center and the left into its irreconcilable enemies.

Maybe that's their only solution, something inherent in the nature of the U.S. system. If this is so, the United States would have no option but to use the most merciless repression to stop the changes promoted by the masses. So, the time of military dictatorships may not be over, much less one for revolutions. And if that be the case, Miami may keep its place as the capital of Latin American counterrevolution. For that, it can count on the Cuban American extreme right.



Jesús Arboleya, who holds a doctorate in Historical Sciences, is an alternate professor at the University of Havana. He has published several books on the topic of Cuban emigration to the United States of America.

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