Saturday, May 9, 2009

God Bless President Arias, Man of Truth

President Oscar Arias Sánchez has major cajones. It takes courage to go against the rest of his fellow Latin American leaders - the ones who habitually blame the United States for their own screwups, that is. But Arias is no lightweight. He's in his second stint as Costa Rica's president (1986–90 and 2006–present ), and he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his peace plan for Central America, which was instrumental in ending ongoing guerilla wars in the region. What Arias said at the Summit of the Americas meeting in Trinidad & Tobago on April 18, 2009 is brief and crucial reading. It should be posted on every lamp pole and plastered on every wall, from Tijuana, Mexico to Ushuaia, Argentina. A few quick excerpts from the full translation: "I have the impression that every time Caribbean and Latin American countries get together with the president of the United States of America it is to ask for things or to demand something. Almost always it’s to blame the United States for our past, present and future ills. I don’t believe that is at all just." South of the US-Mexican border, "El Norte" means "Great Satan" to a lot of people. A lot of people north of that border think that way, too. Many college professors, for example. Liberals in general. President Arias spoke more truth as he continued: "We cannot forget that in this continent, as in the whole world, at least until 1750 all Americans were more or less the same: all were poor. When the industrial revolution came about in England, other countries hopped on that wagon: Germany, France, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand…… and thus the Industrial Revolution passed over Latin America like a comet, and we didn’t realize it. Certainly, we lost the opportunity." Arias blames nobody for that lost opportunity - except Latin America itself. He goes on to note the impressive advances made East Asian nations, and wonders aloud why they shot ahead of Latin America. He knows the anwer, and he said it aloud for the world to hear: "What did we do wrong? I cannot list all the things we did wrong. To start, we have a seven-year schooling. That is the average length of schooling in Latin America and it’s not the case with the majority of Asian countries. It’s certainly not the case in countries such as the United States and Canada, with the best education in the world, similar to the Europeans’. For every 10 students who enter high school in Latin America, in some countries only one finishes. There are countries with an infant mortality of 50 children per thousand, when in the more advanced countries it is 8, 9 or 10. We have countries where the tax load is 12 percent of the gross national product, and it’s no one’s responsibility, except our own, that we don’t tax the richest people of our countries. No one is to blame for that, except we ourselves." No one but "ourselves." Not the United States. "Ourselves," the Latin American nations and their own internal shortcomings, self-imposed, and nobody and nothing else. President Arias had the cajones to say it. He said it for the world to hear. It's a pity that so many people will refuse to hear what he said, or will be capable of accepting the truth he speaks. Read the full speech by President Oscar Arias at RELATED: Wide range of concerns raised at first Summit session Singapore and Costa Rica conclude first round of free trade agreement Arias Remains Above 50% Mark in Costa Rica China, Costa Rica agree to step up ties "to a higher level" CommieBama Hats and More Chicago News Bench RSS Feed Follow ChiNewsBench on Twitter