New Internationalist

‘Cablegate’ causes a stir in the south

The cables revealed by WikiLeaks this week have caused a revolution in international politics. Latin America is no exception; almost all governments in the region have made statements to establish its position on the disclosure of documents and US foreign policy.

In Argentina, the person responsible for responding was the chief of staff, Anibal Fernandez. In a TV interview he said: ‘This is a US problem, not ours. It’s a problem for the United States government and Department of State. I’m not willing to give authority to such stupidity.’

In the cables, there is mention of a possible proximity of the Argentine official to drug trafficking. On that Fernandez responded: ‘I do not care. It was the only government to stop drug gangs.’ And as for the person who apparently let this information slip out, Thomas Kelly, Fernandez retorted: ‘I’m disappointed, if it is true that he wrote that. It seems a mess, his career is going to the trash.’

In Ecuador, the WikiLeaks hurricane caused a stir in local politics. In principle, Deputy Foreign Minister Kintto Lucas said on 30 November, his government was willing to grant a residence permit to WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

But today, the country’s President disavowed Lucas. ‘The director of WikiLeaks has not made any formal proposal; that was a personal statement from the Vice Chancellor, and it did not have my approval,’ Correa said in a press conference in the city of Guayaquil. Moreover, the President continued, ‘we are never going to support the breaking of the law in a country.’ He criticized Washington in strong terms and suggested a penalty for the website. ‘I think the US has committed a serious error which has destroyed confidence in the allied countries, friendly countries, with these kinds of messages.’

However, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño again invited the founder of WikiLeaks to hand over information concerning his country and reiterated that he was not offered residence. ‘[Because of] the processes of destabilization in the Alba countries such as Venezuela, Honduras, Bolivia and Ecuador, we are concerned,’ he said.

The former president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, said he would denounce the United States before the International Criminal Court (ICC) as leaked cables revealed that the US allowed the coup of 28 June 2009 that expelled him from power.

In an interview with Venezuelan channel Telesur, Zelayaaid leaked cables from the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa would allow him to go to the ICC ‘to denounce the US as a State violator of human rights because it did not take steps to prevent the coup. This revelation of WikiLeaks is very embarrassing [for the US] because knowing the crime, they hid it.’

Uruguayan President José Mujica played down the cables, which in the case of his country do not contain much relevant information. ‘They’re gossip. The diplomats were bored and write, write and write. Do not give much attention to it because they do not write anything important,’ Mujica was quoted as saying in the local media.

Cuban leader Fidel Castro also commented on the issue, publishing an article that said: ‘America is enveloped in a huge scandal as a result of documents released by WikiLeaks.’

In reference to Paraguay, the reports cite US government orders to ‘spy’ on the main presidential candidates for the 2008 elections. Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo said these reports would not affect ‘in any way’ diplomatic relations between the countries. But he added: ‘We have not yet spoken with the presidents of the region, but it is possible that the issue will be raised in the Ibero-American Summit of Mar del Plata.’

When in 2008 the Bolivian president, Evo Morales, expelled the the American ambassador from his country, laughter and criticism from all over the world rained over him. Today many countries must be silently admiring the initiative and vision of the Bolivian leader.

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