A Venezuelan journalist I know came to Moscow to highlight Russia’s retaliatory measures taken in response to the United States and European Union’s sanctions. “Putin is the most popular politician in Latin America”, he told me. As to him, “The Russian President enjoys great sympathy among Latin American people no matter the US-backed propaganda outlets work hard to reverse the trend.” I asked the colleague what made the Putin’s rating so high. He said, “There are many reasons. He calls for multipolar world, peaceful dialogue to settle disputes, he can stand on his own if need be. He can take punches and evade provocations. We appreciate his policy aimed at making Russia come back to Latin America and his contribution into boosting political, economic, trade and humanitarian cooperation. We remember the 1990s when Washington pushed Russia to completely withdraw from Latin America. Back then Russian leaders trusted Americans hoping for establishing the relationship based on equality. Many a time they said that Russia could do without friends and allies in the third world making pragmatism prevail. I believe the policy was absolutely wrong; it was more like betraying partners. Putin inspires a hope for future. His policy is a positive alternative aimed at strengthening economic, trade, financial and military cooperation. Venezuela is an example.”
As my Venezuelan colleague told me such an opinion is widely spread around the countries with different political systems. Journalists, politicians, businessmen say the Russian President means what he says, no double standards. He does not try to play Latin America partners up against the United States though he perfectly knows the US special services and State Department do their best to undermine Russia’s clout in the region. Talking about the US West European politicians and at press-conferences Putin uses the word “partners” without flinching eyebrow. There is growing mistrust towards Washington in Latin America. This sentiment has reasons. The US has great temptation to use force to keep “order” in the region. The voices calling for the use force are raised by US lawmakers. The secret plans to overthrow “hostile regimes” are supported by the military infrastructure encompassing the space from Mexico to Paraguay and the Caribbean.
The Obama administration uses drug trafficking and terror to mobilize Latin Americans. The artfully invented schemes used in many cases by the US have been often disclosed by retired agents of the Central Intelligence Agency, The Drug Enforcement Agency and the National Security Agency. In reality the US is hunting for discrediting evidence against popular politicians of Latin America and the Caribbean. All of them without exclusions. The scandal related to Angela Merkel’s phone bugging by National Security Agency and uncovering US moles within the ranks of German intelligence service show there is no red line for American special services operating in what they believe to be their own backyard – Latin America. The heads of ALBA states (ALBA – the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas) including Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Ecuador and Bolivia) have stated many times that they perceive this spying as a threat to the countries and their leaders. Documental evidence is produced that the leaders of Brazil, Argentina and Chile have to work under US watchful eye. There are no exclusions, the US spies even on the presidents of Mexico, Columbia and Guatemala who dance to the Washington’s tune.
The methods used and the behavior of US emissaries cannot but evoke repugnance among Latin Americans. Partly this accounts for the “cult of Putin’s personality” that appeared in a spontaneous way due to comparison made between the Russian President and Americans, Putin stands out for friendly attitude, he is easy going no matter who he is talking to: politicians, entrepreneurs, or well-known figures in the world of culture and art. He is charismatic, open and above board and he has a sense of humor.
His personal ties with Latin America leaders have an important role to play. The Putin’s recent Latin American trip hit the radar screen being widely highlighted as he went to Cuba, Nicaragua, Argentina and Bolivia. The agreements concluded during the voyage display the willingness of Russia to develop long-term contracts in all spheres – from energy to agriculture.
Foodstuffs have become an acute issue recently. The US and the EU oppose the Russia’s independent policy towards Ukraine. Russia has taken retaliatory steps in response to the sanctions imposed unilaterally by the West, including the one year ban on importing food from the countries that joined the sanctions. The decision opens new opportunities before the Russian agricultural producers and new importers. Latin America is an alternative.There is no doubt Latin American partners are willing to cooperate.
Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay and Uruguay will soon start to export all kinds of meat, fish and other ocean products, fruits and milk. Trade offices of Latin American countries have intensified their activities to seize the rare chance to leave European competitors behind. European producers are concerned: the rash act of joining US-initiated sanctions has led to the loss of Russian market; it’s easy to go but hard to return. The US companies selling frozen meat, mainly chicken, have been hurt. They exported about 10 percent of their production to Russia.
Brazilian farmers are happy. Russia has been the main importer of their beef, pork and poultry. After the decision of Rostekhnadzor (the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance) at least 90 Brazilian meat producers got access to Russia and the Customs Union.In 2013 Brazil’s export to Russia was $2,7 billion. Experts have no doubt it will greatly increase in the 2014-2015. Russia is a huge market open for Latin Americans who have their own experience of being subject to the sanctions imposed by the United States and the West. By supporting Russia they will kind of have revenge.