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A strong anti-Bush feeling

DISCUSSIONS | June 09, 2006

Daniel Samper, Spain

1981 Nieman fellow from Colombia; now a free-lance writer in Spain

I live in Spain, but keep in constant touch with Latin America. So let me say, first, that in both areas there is a growing concern about the unilateral and self-serving decisions of the USA (the Iraq invasion, the country-by-country agreements to exempt American military personnel from the International Criminal Court, the withdrawal from the Kyoto Treaty, etc.)

I'd also say that there is a strong anti-Bush feeling in Spain and Latin America. Spain has always been a very anti-American country, but Bill Clinton was considered an intelligent and open person, two things that can't be said of Bush.

Furthermore, the image of some values that were considered very important for its citizens have been tainted, like human rights, clean politics, the respect for the Constitution and laws and the transparency of the democratic procedures. The election of George Bush (to begin with), Guantanamo, the Abramoff buying of favors from congressmen and other scandals have brought strong skepticism about whether American leaders really appreciate these values.

In Latin America the main feeling in reference to the U.S. is of void. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Washington became concerned mostly with other parts of the world, and Latin America is now a third-rate preocupation. This is not necessarily seen as a problem, because sometimes the strong presence of the U.S. on the continent is kind of oppressive. But there is a feeling of "we just don't count" – unless you export drugs, like Colombia, or have a strange guy at the Presidency, like Venezuela.

Summing it up, the American image in Spain and Latin America is worse than it was four years ago, and the recent turmoil about immigrants hasn’t helped to improve it.

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