|Obama wants to salvage his image, but he arrives in Latin America sponsored and invited by the worst elements that can be found in our countries.
In his previous journey, when still US president, Barack Obama came to bless the conservative restoration in Argentina. He didn’t have the courage to pass through Brazil, where a coup government had just been installed – with his indulgent silence. Now he comes as ex-president, representing his Foundation, financed by big economic conglomerates.
In the last month, Obama has had conversations with the Northern Trust bank, with the Cantor Fitzgerald bank, and with the private investment firm Carlyle Group. His foundation is financed generously by donations from Microsoft and from the electronics sector giant Exelon, both with contributions of more than a million dollars. Obama has already spoken at multiple Wall Street conferences, receiving around $400 thousand a time.
In São Paulo, Obama will participate in an event hosted by the economic journal Valor, from the O Globo group, sponsored by the Spanish bank Santander. Cynically, he says that he comes to ‘listen to youth leaders’. He’s not going to find any youth leaders there. For that, he’d have to turn up without bank sponsors; he’d have to go to the periphery of São Paulo and Buenos Aires. But with the sponsorship from the companies that finance his foundation, he comes more to seek new business opportunities for those same companies, particularly in the processes of privatisation that the Macri and Temer governments are putting into practice.
In Argentina, Obama will have a meeting with business leaders and, it has been announced, with Mauricio Macri. In Brazil, by contrast, he won’t dare to meet with Temer, who has the support of only 3 percent of the Brazilian people. He’ll have a meeting in Córdoba about the ‘green economy’, organised by the Advanced Leadership Foundation, which has its headquarters in Washington, with the support of the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organisation of American States, the Mediterranean Foundation and Boston Seguros.
The Obama that’s coming to Latin America now has nothing to do with the Obama that was elected as first black president of the US. That Obama would go to the black communities in Brazil, would take an interest in the destiny of Milagro Sala and Santiago Maldonado. He would speak with the popular leaders and not the bank directors.
It’s traditional for a US ex-president to organise his foundation and travel around the world, looking to maintain his own spaces, financing his travels with the support of donations from big private US companies. The only one of the former north American presidents to have put a foundation at the service of global democratic causes has been Jimmy Carter.
Obama doesn’t hide the fact that he’s working on behalf of big US corporations, not in support of civil entities, human rights, defence of democracy, the promotion of social politics. He comes to Brazil invited by the O Globo group, which has always been on the side of the worst causes. He comes supported by banks and representing a foundation that also doesn’t hide whom it finances. In Argentina, Obama has been invited by a North American organisation.
If he wanted to inaugurate the presence of his foundation with good causes in the continent, he’d have to come and denounce the immense social reverses that are taking place in Argentina and Brazil, where governments that promote the interests of the market and the banks have taken power. He’d have to concern himself with what’s going on in Mexico, in Puerto Rico, in Guatemala, among so many other countries with serious problems.
But that’s not Obama’s programme on this visit. Obama lived in the period of the US’ greatest isolation in Latin America. He had to eulogise Lula, to co-exist with hostile governments. He bet on presidents like Peña Nieto, on Sebastián Piñera, but he wasn’t successful with any of them. He had to admit the failure of 50 years of blockade on Cuba; he visited the island but wasn’t able to get the photo he asked for with Fidel. He finished his term defeated, unable to choose his preferred successor and seeing that his actual successor was a buffoon who delegitimises the US presidency.
Now Obama wants to salvage his image, but he arrives sponsored and invited by the worst elements that can be found in our countries.
Translation by Alborada.
Emir Sadir is a Brazilian sociologist and political scientist.