BRASILIA, Nov. 6 - President Bush, in tough remarks aimed at Venezuela's leftist president, Hugo Chavez, called on Latin America today to choose between two competing futures - an American-supported "vision of hope" and another that "seeks to roll back the democratic progress of the past two decades."
Such a democratic retrenchment, the president said, would be "playing to fear, pitting neighbor against neighbor, and blaming others for their own failures to provide for their people."
Mr. Bush spoke before Brazilian business leaders, diplomats and students at the luxury Blue Tree Park Hotel, in an isolated section of the capital, and did not mention Mr. Chavez by name.
But his barbs at the populist president were clear, and were in effect Mr. Bush's response to the fiery populist who led an anti-American rally of more than 25,000 people on Friday in Mar Del Plata, Argentina, while Mr. Bush was attending a summit meeting there.
Mr. Bush's remarks were also directed in general at Latin America, where recent financial shocks have led to a disenchantment in young democracies like Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador and Argentina, in particular, that have not delivered the social and economic justice expected at their birth two decades ago. The administration worries that the region may slip into the authoritarianism of the past, and that other leaders like Mr. Chavez may emerge.
"Only a generation ago, this was a continent plagued by military dictatorship and civil war," Mr. Bush said. "Yet the people of this continent defied the dictators, and they claimed their liberty."...Yeah, the CIA at the instigation of Republicans had no role in any of this. Riiiighhht...
But there's a nuggest of truth buried in this Times bit:
Mr. Bush, who was in the Brazilian capital on the third day of a four-day trip to Latin America, tried earlier today to minimize the differences with Brazil and three of its neighbors that led to the collapse of trade talks late Saturday in Mar Del Plata.
Standing at the side of the Brazilian president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Mr. Bush acknowledged that to satisfy Brazil, which has the largest economy in South America and is co-chairman with the United States in the trade talks, he would have to reduce United States tariffs on Brazilian products and also cut back on billions of dollars in subsidies paid to American farmers and agri-businesses.
Mr. da Silva had opposed the American timetable for the talks in Mar Del Plata, preferring to await the outcome of global negotiations sponsored by the World Trade Organization. Brazil has long complained that trade barriers have limited its ability to sell products like oranges, sugar and cotton in the United States, and has in fact obtained rulings in its favor from the World Trade Organization.
"I heard that loud and clear," Mr. Bush said under a tent at Granja do Torto, Mr. da Silva's weekend farm just outside the capital. "And so recently I made a statement, or a series of statements, that said the United States will reduce subsidies and tariffs, so long as we get the same treatment from trading partners.""The same treatment?" Even Steven? Well, you can imagine what that might involve...