Anti-US sentiment out of Latin America reached a fever pitch today with Venezeulan President Hugo Chavez's speech to the UN General Assembly, in which he referred to US President George Bush as "the devil":
From the Washington Post:
"The devil came here yesterday," Chavez said, referring to Bush's address on Tuesday and making the sign of the cross. "He came here talking as if he were the owner of the world."
Chavez, who has joined Iran in opposing U.S. influence, accused Washington of "domination, exploitation and pillage of peoples of the world."
"We appeal to the people of the United States and the world to halt this threat, which is like a sword hanging over our head," he said.
This isn't the first time Venezeulans have found themselves at odds with US foreign policy, nor is it the first time they've expressed that opposition with vehemence. During Richard Nixon's 1958 trip to Caracas, Venezuelans attacked his motorcade out of anger over US support for the dictator Marcos Perez Jimenez. Alan McPherson begins his HUP book Yankee No! Anti-Americanism in U.S.-Latin American Relations with a re-telling of those chaotic days:
On May 13, 1958, it may have seemed to many people that Latin Americans just did not like the United States anymore. That afternoon, Vice President Richard Nixon, while on a good will mission to South America, headed a motorcade into Caracas, Venezuela’s capital. When the cars slowed down, onlookers rushed to gather around them. For twelve minutes, the crowd rocked the vehicles, bashed them with sticks and iron bars, spat on the windows, and shouted at the passengers. The U.S. delegates and their Venezuelan escorts feared for their lives, and barely escaped. The incident brought a climax to protests that marred every stop on Nixon’s itinerary. Whatever else this was, most witnesses agreed, it was anti-Americanism--unbridled hostility toward "the United States." Costa Rican president José Figueres, like others, tried to define the problem narrowly: "People cannot spit on a foreign policy which is what they meant to do." Others feared a tide of revolution. As one aide told Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, "The preponderance of U.S. influence in Latin America is being challenged." Among shaken U.S. diplomats, the general consensus was at least that "real violence" against U.S. representatives was "something new," a qualitative leap in boldness stemming from resentment against nearly every aspect of U.S. influence in Latin America.
Yankee No! received accolades when it was first released in 2003, and the book only appears to have grown more relevant since that time. In an age where a Latin American head of state takes to the podium at the world's largest deliberative body to denounce his American counterpart as "the devil," it seems that Foreign Affairs had it right when they said of Yankee No! that "this well-written and balanced book should be required reading in the White House, in Langley, and around Foggy Bottom." Well, no senior government officials have called for their review copies just yet, but we'll keep our fingers crossed.