So Much for the Conspiracy Theories

Article excerpt

Byline: Mike Giglio

WikiLeaks cables are not expected to support claims of U.S. plots to destabilize Latin America.

The latest WikiLeaks document dump hasn't offered much about Latin America so far, and Hugo Chavez seems to be champing at the bit for more--he responded to early reports of the leaks by calling for Hillary Clinton to resign. The dispatches are bound to raise tensions in a region already angst-ridden over American influence, on top of ruffling plenty of feathers (Clinton asks about Argentine President Cristina Kirchner's mental health in one cable; Chavez is called "crazy" in another).

But if the content is similar to what's been leaked from other regions, the cables might actually weaken some of the wilder conspiracy theories that have become prime political currency for Chavez and allies such as Bolivia's Evo Morales and Ecuador's Rafael Correra. "I don't think we've seen anything that suggests that there is a hidden agenda in U.S. policy that we didn't know about already," says Andrew Selee, director of the Latin American Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

Adds Adam Isacson of the Washington Office on Latin America: "The U.S. is always being attacked for sponsoring coups or plotting to destabilize countries, and you're not seeing any evidence of that. You're not fulfilling the conspiracy theories that folks like Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales are pushing."

Chavez and his allies have repeatedly raised suspicions over things like October's attempted coup in Ecuador, the use of U.S. military bases in Colombia, and alleged American meddling in Bolivia following Morales's 2005 election. Just last week, at a conference attended by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Morales alleged there was U.S. involvement in last summer's Honduras coup. But a cable released earlier this week, which was sent from the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa a month after the coup, clearly suggests otherwise: a wary ambassador finds "no doubt" that the coup was "illegal and unconstitutional" and declares the newly installed president "totally illegitimate. …