Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America

February 25, 2002 // 11:00pm

Summary of a meeting with Alma Guillermoprieto.

Alma Guillermoprieto described the fantasy and image that shape U.S. perceptions of Latin America, and vice-versa, describing her own fantasial vision of Latin America as "a place of chaos and dismemberment, of conflict and disruption … a place where possibilities still exist, where doors can still be opened, where life is a challenge that sometimes can still be lived creatively." She criticized the pursuit of evil as a central element of U.S. foreign policy, and said that perceiving the Colombian conflict as having two sides was dangerous. She characterized the war as "shifting patterns of alliances among all the warring factions." The guerrillas had become corrupt after 50 years of clandestine life, and were waging a terrorist war on the civilian population, but had basic demands that were relevant and unmet. Post-September 11 rhetoric and resolve is setting the stage for a bigger and deadlier war, she said. She described Fidel Castro's effort to break Cuba's isolation, noting the restraint in criticizing U.S. use of Guantanamo for Taliban prisoners. Finally, political changes in Mexico were hopeful, despite Vicente Fox's many failings as a transitional president.

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