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Latin America & Cablegate: Analysis, Reactions & Questions

Bloggers from Latin America have quickly reacted to the US Embassy Cables leaked by WikiLeaks. Cables from embassies in several Spanish-speaking Latin American countries, including Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela and Honduras, have been released. Bloggers in the region are analyzing the cables and what they mean to their individual countries and to Latin America as a whole.

Blogging about cables by country

One of the first cables to make headlines documented Secretary of State Hilary Clinton inquiring about the mental state of Argentinean President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, how she handled stress, and how she worked alongside her husband, former President Nestor Kirchner, as the Argentinean blog Econoblog [es] reports.

Another Latin American country that quickly made the news was Paraguay, in a cable that The Guardian headlined, “Washington worries that Paraguay harbours Iranian agents and Islamist Terrorist.” Paraguayan blogger Enrique Galeano reacted to the leak in his blog [es]:

No es el espionaje lo que nos debe indignar sino nuestra indiferencia ante este atropello a nuestra frágil independencia

[…]

Es hora de que nos movilicemos por nuestra verdadera independencia, es hora de que repudiemos en serio esta actitud, no solo de los Estados Unidos, con relación a nuestro país. Debemos exigir respeto, al menos mínimamente, a nuestra democracia y a nuestra independencia como país.

It is not the spying that we should be mad about, but rather our indifference in facing this trampling of our fragile independence.

[…]

It is time for us to mobilize for our true independence, it is time for us to really repudiate this attitude, not only from the United States, towards our country. We must demand respect, at least, towards our democracy and our independence as a country.

Greg Weeks from Two Weeks Notice: A Latin American Politics Blog looks at what one of the leaked cables reveals about Honduras’ political crisis in June 2009, when Manuel Zelaya was removed from office:

From Wikileaks, here is a July 24, 2009 cable from Ambassador Hugo Llorens in Honduras to Washington with an outline of the developing coup.  I think it is a good analysis, looking at both sides and concluding without a doubt that Mel Zelaya's removal was both illegitimate and illegal.

Daniel Duquenal from Venezuela News and Views writes,

As expected, wikileaks is not going to be good news for Chavez.  So far there is one cable that addresses Venezuela, at the very end of that cable.  It is a French assistant to Sarkozy and he says earlier that Iran is a Fascist regime (Duh!) and that:

——————————–
VENEZUELA
——————————–

13. (C) Levitte observed that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is “crazy” and said that even Brazil wasn't able to support him anymore. Unfortunately, Chavez is taking one of the richest countries in Latin America and turning it into another Zimbabwe.

The leak includes cables that have not been released to the public yet, but bloggers like Juan Manuel Caicedo [es] from Colombia have started providing data on documents about their country:

De los 2416 documentos de la Embajada de EE.UU. en Bogotá, 2373 (98%) se publicaron entre el 2004 y el 2010. […]

Los documentos se refieren a 272 temas diferentes. Los 10 temas más frecuentes son asuntos internos, externos, terrorismo y derechos humanos.

Out of the 2416 documents from the Embassy of the United States in Bogotá, 2373 (98%) were published between 2004 and 2010. […]

The documents refer to 272 different subjects. The 10 most frequent are internal and external matters, terrorism, and human rights.

Tim Johnson from Mexico Unmasked shares similar information on leaked documents about Mexico:

The cables are likely to reveal much about U.S. cooperation with Mexico against narcotics traffickers, migration issues and relations with the current and past governments of the National Action Party (PAN). There may be assessments of key government officials.

According to news accounts here in the capital, there are 2,285 cables from the Embassy, and the rest from consulates [.]

The role of citizen media and the ethics behind WikiLeaks

Javier Moreno in Rango Finito [es] breaks down his thoughts about the leak into 10 points. In his last point he talks about The New York Times and other traditional newspapers releasing the information, concluding that:

[…] parecería que es necesario que los medios independientes y pequeños y los ciudadanos tomen en sus manos el trabajo, que nadie más hará con seriedad, de explorar y visibilizar la información realmente relevante oculta entre la montaña de cables.

[…] it seems necessary that independent and small and citizen media take the work into their hands, the work that no one else will do seriously, to explore and visualize truly relevant information hidden amongst the mountains of cables.

In the Chilean blog de la República [es], Rodrigo F. echoes the need for online, independent media to analyze the material. Meanwhile, Argentinean blogger Juan Carlos Lynch [es] questions the journalistic model behind WikiLeaks:

¿Es ético difundir esa información, que hablando en términos muy llanos, fue robada? Algunos dirán “si eso sirve para descubrir un asesinato, por supuesto que sí”. ¿Pero si no se descubre nada? ¿Si se trata de cuestiones que hacen a relaciones entre gobiernos, o a avances científicos? Es para pensarlo. Sobre todo porque Wikileaks.org afirma cumplir con las pautas éticas con que se maneja el periodismo más clásico. Yo tengo mis dudas.

Is it ethical to release this information, that speaking plainly, was stolen? Some will say “if it serves to discover a murder, of course it is.” But what if nothing is discovered? What if it is about relations between governments, or scientific advances? That is something to think about. Specially because Wikileaks.org says they comply with ethical guidelines that drive classic journalism. I have my doubts.

A regional perspective

In El Quinto Poder [es] Maria Rosa Balseca looks at what the leaked cables reveal about Latin America as a region:

En Latinoamérica el suceso Wikileaks nos enfrenta otra vez con el asunto de ser o no ser parte del mapa mundial; siempre viéndonos desde los ojos de otros, ahora queremos saber si alguna importancia tiene cada país como para ser parte del escándalo. Ser parte de un informe filtrado por Wikileaks es estar en el mundo, ¿pero de qué lado? ¿quien es considerado peligroso para el orden mundial del norte es acaso un héroe del otro orden deseable? Lo dudo. La vida política de América Latina es más compleja que nuestra relación con los poderes del norte.

In Latin America the Wikileaks event confronts us once again with the issue of whether we are part of the world map; we are always looking at ourselves through the eyes of others, and now we want to know if any of our countries is important enough to be part of the scandal. To be a part of the leak by Wikileaks means being part of the world, but on which side? he that is considered dangerous to the north's world order is a hero on the other desirable order? I doubt it. The political life of Latin America is more complex than our relationship with the powers from the north.

She adds,

Sin embargo lo que se diga de Latinoamérica en los reportes de Wikileaks será un espejo que debemos observar detenidamente y ojalá aprender que debemos mirarnos con nuestros propios ojos.

However, whatever is said about Latin America in the Wikileaks reports will be a mirror that we must closely observe and hopefully learn that we need to look at ourselves with our own eyes.

Boz from Bloggings by Boz concludes his post on the subject encouraging his readers to pay attention to other current events in Latin America:

[…] while I understand and feel the rush of new information from these leaks as they appear each day (I fall for it too), I encourage readers to pay attention to the political crisis in Haiti, the climate change conference in Cancun and every other story that is actually happening today in Latin America. These are events that are occurring right now that impact policy and people's lives. The wikileaks documents will still be there next week.

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