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Thursday, January 15, 2004

Pointing his bird in the wrong direction
An American Airlines pilot has been arrested in Brazil for "making what Federal Police officers described as an obscene gesture." He and his crew apparently objected to Brazil's new policy of treating American travelers exactly the same way as the U.S. is now treating Brazilian travelers--with fingerprinting and mug shots.

At a conference of Western Hemisphere heads of government on Monday, Brazil's president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, personally asked President Bush that Brazilians be exempted from the requirements. He followed that on Tuesday with public criticism of the United States procedures, saying to reporters that "if the problem is to fight terrorism, this measure makes no sense" because "we have no culture of terrorism" in Brazil.

Mindless arrogance has its price. Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, and probably several other Latin American countries are now realizing that they'd better stand up to the Washington bullies now if they're to have any chance of retaining (or regaining) their economic and political independence.

Michelle is keeping track of events in Venezuela. Most of the recent bluster about Cuba has likely been aimed at Venezuela, its president Hugo Chavez (who is too friendly with Castro for aWol's liking), and especially its oil. The U.S. has a long and sordid history of messing with Latin America, and what the Bushies are doing now is at least as sordid as any of it. Leaders like Lula and Chavez are playing a dangerous game by standing up to Bush, but backing down would probably be even more dangerous for them and their countries.