Hillary Clinton's image in Latin America could become Obama's image

Hillary Clinton's lack of a positive track record on human rights, particularly as it relates to Latin America, might not be her only problem if she gets the Secretary of State appointment.

President-elect Barack Obama, by going that route, as mainstream media reports seem to indicate is under consideration, might very well be writing off any credibility he hopes to establish in addressing the mounting violence of the drug war, given the baggage the Clintons, including Hillary specifically, carry on that front.

You would have to wonder who in Latin America would take any Obama effort to address narco-trafficking seriously should Hillary be the point person, as head of State, in carrying out such an initiative.

First, there's all the blowback over the still-unsettled issue of Mena, Ark., and its connections to the Iran/Contra arms-for-drugs black op. You don't think Obama's enemies would resurface that whole episode and Bill Clinton's slippery defense of his governorship's role in it, which essentially was the Sgt. Shultz defense from Hogan's Heroes: "I know nothing."

For those who want a refresher on that time, check out the video below:


And then there's the whole matter of the Clintons' relationship with an individual named Jorge Cabrera, a convicted narco-trafficker who was courted as a campaign contributor during Clinton's 1996 relection bid, and the matter of the photo of Cabrera, standing next to Hillary, at the White House Christmas party as a quid pro quo for Cabrera's generosity. (It's important to note that no one gets inside the White House, what's more stands next to the First Lady, without first being thoroughly vetted by the Secret Service.)

The New York Times wrote about the matter in 1997:

Jorge Cabrera, a drug smuggler who has emerged as one of the most notorious supporters of President Clinton's re-election campaign, was asked for a campaign contribution in the unlikely locale of a hotel in Havana by a prominent Democratic fund-raiser, Congressional investigators have learned.

And here's the photo of Hillary with Cabrera, for any Doubting Thomases out there:



And below is a write-up in a Latin America newspaper, featuring the same photo, to assure you that the people of the land south of our border are aware of these matters:













And what else is out there that will yet surface on that front? You can bet there will be plenty of journalists north and south of the border digging on that front if she gets the Secretary of State nod. And once she's in Obama's administration, the Clintons' baggage becomes his load as well. And even if the Clintons contend they did nothing wrong, that a "vast right-wing conspiracy" is seeking to frame them, who's really going to believe that, even among the "vast left-wing conspiracy" after everything we've seen of their politics to date?

It seems a very unwise move for Obama to put Hillary Clinton in the lead diplomatic position for the country in the larger context of how the drug war is destroying neighborhoods and families across this nation, and given any solution to the problem has to involve a credible foreign policy south of the border. And you can't achieve that if you have a person at the top of the State Department who speaks out of both sides of her mouth, at once posing for a photo op with a narco-trafficker and then, as she wrote in an article in Foreign Affairs in December 2007, promising the following as part of her diplomatic vision:

I will rebuild our power and ensure that the United States is committed to building a world we want, rather than simply defending against a world we fear.....

... We must also continue to cooperate with our allies in Colombia, Central America, and the Caribbean to combat the interconnected threats of drug trafficking, crime, and insurgency.

Can anyone take her seriously? Will anyone in Latin America take Obama seriously if she is his top diplomat? I guess that remains to be seen, but I have my doubts that anyone who wants real change will buy the hypocrisy.



User login


About Bill Conroy