- LATIN AMERICA
- MIDDLE EAST
- United Kingdom
- United States
- New Zealand
- South Africa
By Andres Oppenheimer
Latin America's response to the massacre of more than 100 civilians, including 49 children and 34 women, in the Syrian town of Houla has been, with a few exceptions, shockingly tame for a region that has suffered gross human rights violations in the past.
The United States, Canada, Germany, France, Spain and at least five other major nations expelled their Syrian ambassadors following the slaughter in Houla, which
The paramilitary forces have been behind many of the estimated 12,000 deaths in Syria since the beginning of the uprising against dictator Bashar al-Assad thirteen months ago. United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights officials have said that nearly 20 of the dead in Houla were killed by government artillery.
But in Latin America, at the time of this writing, no country has physically expelled a Syrian diplomat to send a strong message of outrage against the Syrian regime.
Only one country, Panama, has announced that it has "temporarily suspended" diplomatic relations with Syria, although the measure is largely symbolic, because Syria has no embassy in Panama. Among the other official reactions:
- Cuba and Venezuela are openly supporting the Syrian dictatorship. On Friday, when the 47-member
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who in 2010 decorated Assad with Venezuela's "Order of the Liberator" and proclaimed him "one of the liberators of the new world," has sent more than 600,000 barrels of diesel oil to Syria over the past year, according to Venezuelan government reports.
- Colombia and Guatemala, which currently hold seats on the
- Mexico, Chile and other countries issued strong statements condemning the slaughter in Houla and supporting the
- Brazil has supported the
Jose Miguel Vivanco, of the
Sanjeev Bery, a specialist on Middle Eastern affairs with
Latin American diplomats argue that an escalation of sanctions against Syria would lead to a possible foreign military intervention in Syria, similar to what happend in Libya. Some also say that the U.S. and European countries are hypocritical, because they do not expel the ambassadors of China, Saudi Arabia or other major human rights violators with whom they have strong business ties.
My opinion: Not sending a strong signal to Syria and allowing the Syrian dictatorship to kill even more civilians will only help further spread Syria's sectarian conflict into neighboring countries, and increase the chances of an international military intervention.
And the argument about the alleged U.S. and European hypocrisy is a copout. If Latin American countries are as serious about human rights as some of them claim, they should act against all human rights abusers, including those condoned by the United States and Europe.
Acting against human rights abuses globally should be Latin America's best line of defense against possible rights abuses in their own countries. But most governments seem to have forgotten the lessons of their own past.
Copyright © Tribune Media Services
WORLD | AFRICA | ASIA | EUROPE | LATIN AMERICA | MIDDLE EAST | UNITED STATES | ECONOMICS | EDUCATION | ENVIRONMENT | FOREIGN POLICY | POLITICS
World - Latin America Too Bland on Syria Massacre | News of the World