Thursday, July 19, 2007

Canada's Harper Takes Shot at US, Gets Earful on Cuba

New Conservative Canadian President Stephen Harper is testing the waters down south, trying to promote Canada as a kind of 3rd Way "model" for development (between Venezuela and US I suppose). Apparently things are not working out so well. His presence has been greeted by a big yawn from the Latin press, as well as protests and controversy.

In trying to present itself as distinct from the US, Harper mada an amazing shot at the United State. Unlike the US, Harper said the region has nothing to fear from Canada. "It is not in our past, nor within our power, to conquer or dominate," he said. He added Canada differs from the U.S. in its policies of "social cohesion," such as universal health care, equalization and other progressive institutions. Of course, he went on to bash Venezuela though not by name, for its "syndrome of economic nationalism, political authoritarianism and class warfare."

In Colombia, Harper seemed eager to present himself as a stong ally of beseigned President Uribe, facing a swirling and deepening "para-gate" scandal. In response, Uribe seemed to latch himself to Harper "like a piece of floating wood in an unfriendly ocean." Amnesty International and other Candadian NGOs are rightfully pissed

In the Carribean, Harper got an earful from the President of Barbados, Owen Arthur, on Cuba. Arthur said said Cuba should be respected for what it is, and be allowed to follow its own path, without foreign criticism or interference. "We have a relationship with Cuba that's over 30 years old," The world's approach to Cuba should be guided by principles of "respect for people's sovereignty, and non-interference, and the right of people to pursue alternative paths to their development," Arthur said. "Our hemisphere is diminished when we do not recognize Cuba, and validly so, as a citizen of our hemisphere, that needs to be integrated in the affairs of our hemisphere," he said, in particular reference to the United States's policy of non-engagement with Cuba.



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