The Foreign Service Journal, January-February 2020

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2020 47 the Bolivian requested an emergency economic cooperation package to support the deep economic reforms that had earned him worldwide recognition. (Sound macroeconomic policies had brought inflation under control, and innovative social policies were beginning to help spread the wealth.) But the U.S. president was not interested. “Sorry, I’m not Santa Claus,” Bush said. Sánchez de Lozada’s retort was prophetic: “Then, soon you will have me here as an exiled former president. … And in my place, you will have a government in Bolivia aligned with U.S. enemies.” Within a year, in October 2003, he was overthrown and later fled to exile in Washington, D.C. He was ultimately suc- ceeded by the deeply anti-U.S. cocalero leader, Evo Morales, who remained in power until late last year when he tried to steal an election in pursuit of an unconstitutional fourth term. Much earlier, in 1994, during Sánchez de Lozada’s first term as president of Bolivia (1993-1997), another telling incident occurred at the Ibero- American Summit in Colombia. When the pres- ident of Bolivia crossed paths with Fidel Castro in a corridor of the Hotel Santa Clara in Cartagena, Castro complained that the United States was using its cronies such as Argentine President Carlos Menem and Costa Rican President José Figueres to attack him. “You’re lucky. You only know the Americans as foes; wait until you know them as friends,” Sánchez de Lozada quipped. That phrase, too, proved prophetic when, years later, following the rule of Oscar Wilde that “true friends stab you in the front,” the U.S. government refused to financially support a democratic government and ally of the United States, at a time when a conspiracy financed by Venezuela and advised by Cuba overthrew a government that was going through a deep social and economic crisis. A New Partnership In recent years, the mood of the region has changed, and diverging views have shattered the democratic consensus of the 1990s. Deep divisions have emerged. For its part, U.S. policy is no longer driven by an overarching uniting principle based on the broadly shared hopes and aspirations of people everywhere. In that sense, we seemed to have gone from euphoria to depres- sion. In the first decades of the 21st century, the U.S. position, supported by many international NGOs, seemed to focus more attention on the great experiment of social inclusion taking place in such countries as Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia than on con- fronting the evident drift toward authoritarianism of their governments. This approach was unsuccessful. The current admin- istration seems to have lost interest in the region altogether. As a result, Latin America, long neglected by Europe and taken for granted by the United States, has found a substitute in China. Eager for natural resources, risk- tolerant and nonjudgmental about matters of democracy and human rights, China has become the first- or second-largest export market for most Latin American countries. In the light of the decisive failure of the authoritarian regimes in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia and the challenge repre- sented by China’s value-free but highly problematic partnership, I hope that the lesson for future U.S. foreign policy is to renew its support for democracy, social development and rule of law in the hemisphere. To help overcome this period of despondency, U.S. diplomats will need to forge a renewed partnership of sub- stance among the committed democracies of the Americas. n “You’re lucky. You only know the Americans as foes; wait until you know them as friends,” Sánchez de Lozada quipped. Jaime Aparicio Otero speaking at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs in 2006. COURTESYOFJAIMEAPARICIO