Page 11


Latin American politicians and diplomats like himself would make a sympathetic audience. The former President of Brazil, after all, had been impeached for using public funds for personal purposes and it was estimated that during his term roughly 60 percent of “foreign assistance” to the government was stolen. The current Brazilian president stands accused of paying off legislators to amend the constitution so that he can succeed himself. And for two years running, the current president of Colombia, Ernesto Samper, has been denied a visa to enter the United States, because he took money from narcos. And U.S. President Bill Clinton took money from Indonesians, but nobody knows what for, and he is plagued by so many scandals that even the American press has lost track. The OAS Assembly was just the beginning. In August, twelve Latin American presidents at the Group of Rio Summit issued a declaration condemning corruption. And no one laughed there, either. Among those signing on was Juan Wasamosy, president of Paraguay, who has trouble governing because he has been accused of rigging his last election. Not present, but poised to return to the ranks of Latin America’s leaders, was Alan Garcia, the former President of Peru, who is living in Paris, avoiding charges of massive theft, and considering another run for the presidency. It’s been seven years since he held public office, and he thinks it’s time to let bygones be bygones. Likewise, Luis Alberto Lacalle, ex-president of Uruguay, recently announced his intention to run again. When he stands for election he will still stand accused of corruption, for which his special adviser and his economic minister went to jail. “I believe I have a special talent for this position,” Lacalle said. Back in Lima in September, representatives of every government of Latin America participated in the Seventh International Anti-Corruption Conference. They were joined by friends from the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, although the host President, Alberto Fujimori, couldn’t make it. He was too busy revoking the Peruvian citizenship of a television producer whose news broadcasts exposed corruption in Fujimori’s administration. Can Latin America’s kleptocratic governments maintain the high standards of magical realist diplomacy they continued to uphold over the past year? Count on it. Their creativity, like the creativity of the continent’s greatest writer, should never be underestimated. When Gabriel Garcia Marquez was asked how he invented the wild imaginings that filled the pages of One Hundred Years of Solitude, he answered that he invented nothing. All of it, he said, really happened. And it probably did. Art, after all, reflects life. As it did recently in Peru, whose armed forces purchased $350 million worth of Byelorussian attack planes that really don’t workduring the same week that the nominally civilian wing of Peru’s government proposed an Inter-American Convention fostering a “Culture of Peace.” Like Garcia Marquez, we have to believe it all really happened. But only the Culture of Peace is magic. The $350 million is real. Gabriela Bocagrande is a senior policy analyst for an international organization. “Wellstone,” from page 5 view that the issue of economic justice has gone into eclipse in our country.” Wellstone admits that he hasn’t quite figured out how to take his 1990 senate campaign national. In 1990, Wellstone traveled Minnesota in a bus, doing retail politics in all of the state’s cities, and in a very close race, he defeated Republican incumbent Rudy Boschwitz. In 1996 he faced Boschwitz again. “I was the only person up for reelection who had voted against the welfare bill but I won’t vote for a piece of legislation that will impoverish more children, or put more children in harm’s way,” Wellstone said. “And we won by nine points.” Wellstone described his campaign in his midday speech in Austin: “I did not bob or weave on the issues. I made it so clear to the people of Minnesota that I was opposed to privatizing Social Security. I made it so clear to the people in Minnesota that I was for Medicare, and more that we should have universal health care coverage. I said to people in Minnesota that I was for living wage jobs. I said to the people of Minnesota that I was for reducing violence, and Sheila [his wife] and I put a lot of emphasis on reducing domestic violence, the violence in homes: I said in Minnesota that I was the reformer, and I said over and over and over again I shouted it from the mountain tops = that I was for investing in children and education.” During the two years that led up to the 1996 campaign, Wellstone said, he and his wife Sheila had attended 850 house gatherings, where anywhere from “twenty to four hundred people would show up.” Then in the final week of the campaign, volunteers made “10,000 get-out-the-vote calls every single hour.” Wellstone, who was a community organizer before he became a professor of politics at Carleton College, has obviously applied the principles and practices of organizing to electoral politics in Minnesota. He hasn’t yet decided how to apply these principles to a national campaign, or even, he said in response to a question, to Texas, where there are twenty-three media “I have full confidence about states like New Hampshire, living-room states, and Iowa, where you get to touch and get touched by people. I think we could do very well there. I can think of some other states where we would do well. The big question is what happens when the campaign turns south,” to the clustered Southern primaries. That is the question Wellstone will ponder over the next several months, as he decides whether he will be a candidate in the Democratic primary. “I don’t want to sound arrogant,” Wellstone said, “but these issues race, gender, poverty, children they’re not exactly the road to the White House.” A presidential campaign, he said, obviously would embrace broader issues. But these issues, he said, “are an important part of a winning politics.” Wellstone said that after his party’s failure to defend the interest of the poor and working people on welfare reform votes, and after the Democrats’ capitulation on budget votes, he decided to use his office to help organize a constituency for the social justice issues the Democrats have abandoned. “All these issues dealing with race and gender and poverty of children have been put in parentheses, you know; we turned our gaze away from it. I want to put this back on the agenda. I will do this, I will do this work, I will do the follow-up, regardless of whether I run for president.” L.D. DECEMBER 19, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15