Today, when I hear that the US has lost influence in Latin America, I sort of laugh. We've been hearing that for so long that the US must have gone negative years ago. Anyway, if you really want to know who has lost influence in the region, you need to look to our northern neighbors as they celebrate Canada Day.
Here is Reverend Emilie Smith, a Canadian living in Guatemala, writing about how the people of that country view Canada.
Happy (ahem) Canada Day. I wish we could return to the days when that would have made me proud. Canada's name is mud in Guatemala, where mining companies with the maple leaf have been ravaging community after community.
Every one of us, as we quietly remove the Canadian flags sewn onto our backpacks, and pocket those little pins they give us on Canada Day, should know by now: around the world, in our name, and to our financial benefit, Canadian mining companies are destroying the earth. Chasing after the love of gold and money, they care not for communities, the land, the water, or due process of consultation, or the fair sharing of profits. They come, blow the earth up, suck up the water, leaving cesspools of poison behind. And promising trinkets, 'development' and jobs to the desperately poor and starving, they divide households and communities, leaving bloodshed and fear in their wake.
On June 13, my friend, community leader Yolanda Oqueli, was ambushed and shot as she was leaving the peaceful blockade to the entrance of the proposed site of the Canadian-owned Tambor gold mine, near Guatemala City.My how the time have changed.
I wonder if this will end up like other opinions of the US. When I was staying with a family in Kingston, Jamaica in 1995, the family said that they loved the American people. It was our government that they hated. I used to hear the same thing in El Salvador in 1997. I'm sure that many of you have heard similar stories.
However, when I returned to El Salvador in 2006 the relationship changed. Salvadorans were rightfully angry about the US war in Iraq and their military's participation, our illegal treatment of detainees, and our meddling in their 2004 elections. They were no longer as ready to accept the distinction between the American people and the US government. Some would say that if the American people differed from President Bush on those issues, they wouldn't have re-elected him.
They were not quite swayed by the argument that most Americans vote for president based upon the country's economic performance. We don't pay much attention to international affairs.That argument didn't sway them.