Carlos Fuentes on why multilateralism matters to Latin America:

U.S. support for brutal dictatorships in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay in the name of anti-communism caused great suffering. The overthrow of Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and Salvador Allende in Chile. The Central American wars in the 1980s and their high body counts. These Latin American grievances were balanced by a perception that the U.S. never formally renounced the principles of international law and the hope that it would reaffirm them again.

What is alarming about the Bush administration is its formal denunciation of the basic rules of international intercourse. With us or against us, President Bush declares starkly and simplistically. The U.S. acts according to its own interests, not those of an illusory international community,” asserts national security advisor Condoleezza Rice.

Is it strange that many Latin Americans should see in these statements an aggressive denial of the only leverage we have in dealing with Washington: the rule of law, the balance obtained through diplomatic negotiation?