November 01, 2008

DEA Suspended

MABB © ®

Morales announced today the indefinite suspension of DEA operations in Bolivia. He accused the DEA of political activities, such as financing the opposition in 'rebel' departments, spying and transporting unknown cargo in and out of Pando, Beni and Santa Cruz.

In addition to that, Morales announced he will wait for the next administration to ask for Bolivia to be placed back into the beneficiary countries list.

The big question is, what will Obama do in the case of Bolivia? (is there any doubt now that Obama will be the next president of the US?) Judging from his willingness to speak to Raul Castro, his inclination to lift the long standing Cuba embargo and his willingness to dialog with Hugo Chavez, it is very probable that Obama will put back Bolivia on the list.

Or, will Obama stick to the American line of foreign policy towards Latin America?

Big question!



dv said...

Looks to me like he will stick to the line, his objection with Bush is that he has not been effective. The only addition I see is more labor conditions on trade agreements.

Obama says his primary goal will be to push for democracy in South America. Obama said of Chavez: "In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is a democratically elected leader. But we also know that he does not govern democratically. He talks of the people, but his actions just serve his own power."..."yet perilous mix of anti-American rhetoric, authoritarian government, and checkbook diplomacy offers the same false promise as the tried and failed ideologies of the past. "
On Cuba: "My policy toward Cuba will be guided by one word: Libertad. And the road to freedom for all Cubans must begin with justice for Cuba’s political prisoners, the rights of free speech, a free press and freedom of assembly; and it must lead to elections that are free and fair."..."I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: if you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations." On Columbia: "When I am President, we will continue the Andean Counter-Drug Program, and update it to meet evolving challenges. We will fully support Colombia’s fight against the FARC. We’ll work with the government to end the reign of terror from right wing paramilitaries. We will support Colombia’s right to strike terrorists who seek safe-haven across its borders. And we will shine a light on any support for the FARC that comes from neighboring governments." Obama also wants labor agreements to be part of trade agreements.

From Obama speach Miami:

mabb said...

You are right, for me there are two ways in which Obama can act on foreign policy.

One way is to take his word 'change' serious and really design a new approach to foreign policy for the US. This, of course, aside from the fact that this new way could be positive or negative. That is relative I guess.

The other way is to do as most incoming presidents have been doing, that is continue with the same approach. The American approach to foreign policy has a very long tradition and is very difficult to change. It is institutionalized in the foreign policy agenda of the State and the goals of the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

My guess is that Obama will not be that change and instead will continue with the path it has always been.

Jorge said...

I don't have too many expectations of change in US policy towards Latin America.

The fact is that the US Latin American policy has been hijacked by hard-line Cuban-Americans for the last 40 years and it has not made much of a difference whether a democrat or a republican was in the White House. Will it be different with Obama? Maybe. He has expressed a little more openess, which is encouraging.

I think that Morales' charges against the US of spying and funding the opposition are just not credible. I imagine that he understands that US-Bolivia relations will have to be mended at some point, but he might be betting too much on the possibility of a more friendly American administration.

Instead of invoking all these bogus reasons for the DEA suspension, Morales could argue more convincingly that Bolivia, as a sovereign country, cannot allow a foreign police force to operate freely on its territory. I do not know under what legal framework (if any) was the DEA allowed to operate in Bolivia (some enlightenment here would be highly appreciated) but it seems to me that its presence was not very normal to begin with. Would the US allow foreign law-enforcement officers to freely roam and operate on US territory? Would the US allow, say, the Mexican police to fly reconnaissance missions over the US to stymie the flow of deadly weapons from the US into Mexico that is fueling the narco wars? I very much doubt so.

mabb said...

I would use the word capitalized rather than hijacked. The latter would mean, to me, a degree of less, or even, non control of foreign policy towards LA, which I think is not very realistic.

And I think it would be difficult for any incumbent to significantly change the US government's approach.

Yet, Obama's 'openness' is at the very least intriguing.

The DEA has offices in Bolivia since 1972 (back then when it was still the BNDD). It has been providing support mainly on intelligence, operations, and transport. According to some reports this year there were 27 DEA officers in Bolivia.

The legal framework is based on bilateral cooperation (as the US understands it) and development help (as Bolivia understands it). Basically the latest scheme was the ATPDEA, whereby Bolivia worked on drug eradication for market access in the US.

That is a rough picture of a long and complicated relationship, where Morales was long in the middle.

dv said...

Yes, the most that can be hoped for from Evo's perspective is that Obama would be more flexible with the form of the reward. From what Obama says though, his conditions are the same: stop the coca and democratic change (as defined by the US he does not think Chavez or the Castros are democratic). Evo might have gotten more time from Obama, but expelling the DEA and publicly supporting Chavez and Castro seem to be a show stoppers, I think.

Anonymous said...

Be careful with predicting Obama's victory before it has happened. What will you do (and many millions like you) if Obama loses?

mabb said...

You have no idea! :-)

dv said...

I take that as a challenge!

53% Obama
46% Mccain

The only thing that could have helped Mccain would be if he could use regionalism in his favor. Think Clinton and the south and Reagan and the Pacific Coast. (Reagan even chose a VP from Texas the guy was a master.) But he is from Arizonia and Palin is from Alaska.

Anonymous said...

We'll see on Wednesday, right? I truly believe McCain will surprise many people.

mabb said...

Hm! you are not the only person who says that, anon. But, it looks like a done deal. I mean, 10 points lead and an overwhelming delegate count has to have some sort of effect on "us" undecideds, latinos, independents, and rogue republicans. :-)

I don't know, but it sure is exciting!

Jorge said...

DV said:

53% Obama
46% Mccain

Your prediction turned out to be very accurate. Congratulations!

McCain did not "surprise" us after all. No Bradley effect or "spiral of silence" effect or any of that nonsense. Gains accross the demographic spectrum for the democrats. It could not have been a better election night.

Now the really hard part will be to live up the expectations.