Guests: Monte Reel, Holly Bailey, Peter DeShazo, Lawrence Eagleburger, Michael Fletcher
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST: Tonight, violence in Argentina, as more than 1,000 anti-American protesters at the Summit of the Americas clash with police.
Plus, the “New York Times” reports today that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is narrowing his focus into Karl Rove‘s role in the CIA leak case. Can President Bush, who rose to the governorship and into two terms as president with Karl Rove at his side, keep him there after all this?
And Ronald Reagan was elected, believe it or not, president 25 years ago today. We‘ll talk to former first lady Nancy Reagan.
Let‘s play HARDBALL.
Good evening. I‘m Chris Matthews.
The special prosecutor in the CIA leak investigation is looking into whether Karl Rove sought to conceal his conversation with Matt Cooper of “Time” magazine from the grand jury. We‘ll have the latest in the case in just a moment.
But first, President Bush is in Argentina tonight for the Summit of the Americas. And an anti-American rally there turned violent today as more than 1,000 rioters clashed with police, destroyed storefronts, set fire to American flags and chanted, “Get out Bush.”
The “Washington Post”‘s Monte Reel is in Mar del Plata, Argentina, and joins us now by phone.
Monte, are they mad at us, mad at Bush, mad at the war in Iraq, mad at the economic situation? What‘s driving this anger?
MONTE REEL, “WASHINGTON POST”: It‘s pretty much all of the above.
There‘s definitely anti-Bush sentiments here in Mar del Plaza, but it really is broader than that. This is a wide-ranging protest with a lot of themes.
MATTHEWS: If Bill Clinton were down there right now, would they be protesting him?
REEL: I think so, probably maybe not as strongly, because a lot—there is a strong element and the entire war element here too.
But much of it is also economics and they‘re—a lot of them are simply mad at the U.S. in general and the U.S. influence in Latin America.
MATTHEWS: Argentina has always had a strong left-wing element, poor
people especially, the shirtless ones they used to be called. Is this them
re-emerging? Are these the old Peronistas or what? Who are they? The old
REEL: Well, it‘s—a lot of them are what they call picateros and they‘re—they really sprung up after the Argentine economic collapse. This is a protest movement that was in reaction to that. And a lot of the people who have come to Mar del Plata are affiliated with picatero groups that have been around since 2001.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the president‘s security. How secure is he?
I‘ve noticed people are throwing what look like fire bombs, you can see some of them set there in the street. We‘re looking at it right now.
Have they gotten near the president?
REEL: No, they‘re quite a ways away.
There are several layers of security here. They have guarded security fences all around the summit area. And the ones that they are closest to are really two fences away from the closest buildings where the summit is held. So it‘s a matter of several blocks.
MATTHEWS: Why are the police letting the rioters doing what—do what we‘re seeing them do now, destroy these storefronts, break all these window panes?
REEL: Well, I think it‘s really hard to stop them.
I‘ve seen—what‘s happening is there are small bands of protesters, groups of like 10 or 20, who are running around, breaking store fronts. And by the time the police get to the areas where they‘re doing this, they disperse quickly and then reform a couple blocks away.
MATTHEWS: Is this the kind of violence where you‘re afraid to move into, to wade into the crowd yourself, as a journalist?
REEL: Well, yes, it‘s really unpredictable.
But most of what I‘ve seen here is just pretty much simple rock throwing. And there are people who have broken the windows of businesses and then they‘ve gone inside those businesses, pulled out furniture and they‘ve started bonfires in the streets.
But there haven‘t been, you know, particularly extraordinarily violent actions that I‘ve seen. I haven‘t seen any Molotov cocktails thrown or anything like that. Although, I‘m not saying that, that hasn‘t happened, I just haven‘t seen it.
MATTHEWS: Is this a rough version of theater, of political theater, or are they actually hurting people?
REEL: As far as I know, I haven‘t seen any violence toward people.
It‘s just been toward businesses, really.
Let‘s talk the politics of this.
We‘re watching these street scenes right now in a part of the world that a lot of Americans find very distant from us and they‘re finding this anger very distant from us.
Is this driven by the leaders, by Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, his speech this morning? Was that a rabble-rousing speech that did this to us?
REEL: Well, I mean, he always pushes the buttons of the U.S., and he definitely played to that during his speech.
Today, at the football stadium nearby, there were about 40,000 people who gathered for the rally that he led, and this—while this isn‘t directly related to that, a lot of the groups that were at that rally split up when that ended and went their separate ways.
And some people that I talked to said that some of these people came from the rally, but I hesitate to say that it‘s—you know, it was caused by the rally or incited.
MATTHEWS: Hold on, Monte, of the “Washington Post.” Hold on, sorry.
I want to get back to you in a moment.
I want to go right now to another reporter in the area.
NBC‘s Laura Saravia is also in Mar del Plata.
Laura, where are you right now? Are you safe from this crowd?
LAURA SARAVIA, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, I‘m as safe as I can be. (INAUDIBLE) there‘s rioting right in front of me. We‘ve been here throughout the whole episode. And, you know, there were a lot of protesters, very young protesters.
I was surprised to see a lot of young people throwing stones with their heads covered, their mouths covered. (INAUDIBLE) it started to become very aggressive, started to become very violent. They broke a lot of windows, broke a lot of shops around here. They broke bank offices and insurance offices and all sorts of things.
They burned furniture. They took furniture out of the shops, and that‘s how it all started. They barricaded behind fires until the police arrived. The police arrived in big numbers, and started to fire tear gas, (INAUDIBLE) and they‘ve been moving the demonstrators in the street away from the area where all the Latin American—the Americas leaders are gathering.
MATTHEWS: OK. Laura, hold on there.
Let me go back to Monte Reel of the “Washington Post.”
Monte, why are these young people disguising themselves? I‘ve seen a lot of headwear. Is that because they‘re—it is really their fear they‘re going to get picked up later because of surveillance?
REEL: I‘m sorry. I couldn‘t hear the question.
MATTHEWS: Why are the young people, some of them, wearing this headgear? Are they trying to—some of them are trying to disguise themselves or cover their identities?
REEL: You know, I‘m really not sure. I think some of the people that I‘ve seen have had the masks around their face, the bandanas that they wear around their face, which is something you see a lot in anti-globalization protests.
And part of that I think is tear gas protection, but it‘s also sort of the image that a lot of them keep during these demonstrations.
MATTHEWS: OK, let‘s go—hold on there, Monte, and hold on, Laura.
Let me go right now to Andrea Mitchell of NBC, the chief foreign affairs correspondent.
Andrea, thanks for joining us.
Andrea, is this a Southern Hemisphere version of what we saw in Seattle and here in Washington, whenever there‘s an international economic conference in the West?
ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT:
In fact, I was on the flight back from Seattle in 1999 with Madeleine Albright, a Democrat in the Clinton administration—she didn‘t even get to give her speech in the Seattle summit because these anti-globalization protests have occurred at each and every one of these summits.
Now, this one, as Monte pointed out, does have an extra element, which is the anti-war movement and the anti-George Bush movement, and it was certainly fueled by Hugo Chavez‘s speech, because of his delight, if you will, in really hammering away at George Bush over this week and before.
And in fact, one of the participants in that huge rally was the Argentine soccer hero, Diego Maradona, who previously, a couple of days ago, appeared at the side of Fidel Castro in Havana.
So there is a lot playing into this.
But you saw this in Genoa in 2001, you saw this again in Scotland at the G-8 Summit last summer, and clearly this is part of what we now have come to expect at these summits.
And also, the way it was really not handled in Seattle became the textbook for police around the world in how not to deal with it. In Seattle, they did not secure the summit area itself and as a result they never even got most of those trade talks under way.
After that, in Washington at subsequent summits you saw local police here actually arrest people beforehand. And most recently in federal court we were told that, that was against our CrMD+UL_rMDNM_onstitution.
So there‘s a lot of controversy over the way authorities handle this.
But from everything that we‘ve been told, the president and the summit leaders are completely safe, they are in a sanitized area.
And the president himself, Chris, referred to this obliquely during a photo opportunity with the Argentine president Kirchner this morning when he said, “Thank you for your hospitality and I know it‘s not always easy to have me as your guest”—Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you, Andrea, to try to segment this for people who‘ve been completely surprised by this, me included, the degree of this activity.
If this is just the anti-globalization crowd here, the southern Latino version of it, is there another element here as well, the sort of Fidelista attitude of anti-Americanism, Yankee go home, Cuba si, Yankee no? Is this the Hugo Chavez salient of that carried all the way to the bottom of the hemisphere?
MITCHELL: Absolutely. That is always going to follow, especially this administration, but other American administrations, Democrat and Republican. Certainly George Bush did tighten the embargo on Cuba a year and a half ago and has been vilified in not only, Havana, but certainly in Venezuela.
Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, oil-rich Venezuela, I might add, has been a real thorn in the side of George Bush and everyone‘s who‘s going to be watching them at the class photo and at the dinner tonight, to see just what the body language is, because these two heads of state have absolutely nothing in common except mutual hostility.
MATTHEWS: What about the trade issue? A lot of Americans on both sides of the political wars of this country seem to have bought in to the idea that free trade is good for the country because it brings in goods from all over the world and keeps prices down because you have foreign competition for the American consumer.
It creates more jobs in the export sector. Why do the poor people of Latin America here seem to be so hostile to free trade?
MITCHELL: It‘s not only in Latin America. It‘s, in fact, the emotions that been stirred up by the antiglobalization movement. You had the extraordinary coming together of Democrats and Republican, of everyone except certain people in both wings of the party, and of course, Ross Perot about a decade ago when NAFTA was first embraced and when Bill Clinton really went to the maps for the it.
And that was bipartisan, but ever since NAFTA and the reaction to NAFTA, there has been a lot of resentment. We‘ve seen economic flows for the good and for the bad.
And we‘ve seen when free trade does get approved in these free-trade agreements, there may be long-term positive effects. There are long-term positive effects and improvements in the standards of living. But there are winners and losers, and the losers are obviously displaced and very vocal about it. So this movement still has a great deal of strength. You can see what‘s happening in the streets right now in Argentina. It feeds into the anti-Bush, anti-war, anti-American sentiment that has of course, been existent in Latin America ever since people threw stones at Richard Nixon in Caracas.
MATTHEWS: What I‘m wondering if there‘s a new element here. It seems to me like, well maybe not, because there‘s always been this giant pink umbrella. Every time we had an anti-war demonstration during the ‘60s, they would have people there from the old Socialist party, the old Communist party, the one-worlders. Everyone would show up. In this kind of antiglobalization struggle we‘re watching here, does that just include a grab bag of everybody who‘s angry about the way things are?
MITCHELL: Yes, and in fact, that has been one of the flaws in the antiglobalization movement and in all of these summit protests. So many of these groups come together and they are sometimes, let‘s face it, not articulate about their individual issues.
It takes the power away from the economic arguments, because it becomes a grab bag and it becomes an easy target. George Bush, of course, is not that popular around the world. The war plays a part in that. And we see this in Europe, we see this all over.
It has certainly come together and come to a head here. Obviously this was well organized. Security knew this was coming, they were prepared for it. The summit leaders are very well protected from this. Some people down there have even suggested that the president probably has not seen it.
MATTHEWS: Let‘s end this conversation with what we think is coming up in the next couple weeks. When the president comes home from Argentina. in the wake of this demonstration, which may have been spurred by Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, a Castro wannabe.
And after the president meets with Castro tonight in a rather awkward setting as you‘ve laid it out, are we going to have a period of increased hostility between the United States and Cuba and Venezuela?
MITCHELL: Well, that certainly seems to be the case. Of course, in looking at what‘s happening in Cuba, Cuba has just come through this terrible hurricane, they, for the first time, accepted American help, which was quite extraordinary, because in the past, we did not accept their offer of help for doctors to go to New Orleans.
But there is increasing tension between the United States and Cuba and it seems to have come from both sides. But certainly the Bush administration dialed it up in a big way a year and a half ago, when they tightened the sanctions and more recently, they have really played to the hard line here in the United States by setting up an office of transition in the State Department, looking forward to the end of the Castro era and the beginning of the next era.
That was really a stick in the eye of Fidel Castro, to say we‘re waiting for the opportunity, when you will no longer be with us. It‘s quite a way of telegraphing what they want to do. And it‘s also politics, of course. They‘re playing to the base in Miami and Florida, the anti-Castro Cuban Americans, who have long been part of the Bush coalition.
MATTHEWS: Is Castro-ism more popular in the streets, we‘re watching right now, this sort of vivid and virile anti-Americanism. Is it as popular back in Cuba. I‘m wondering, we‘ve always assumed that when Castro falls or passes away, that there will be an opportunity for liberalization on that island republic. But if you see all this left-wing activity in the streets down here, does that reflect in any way, the kind of left-wing residual power that will remain in Cuba after Castro?
MITCHELL: I think there‘s going to be in the first instance, a real military crackdown. And he has said that his successor is his younger brother, Raul, younger by only a couple of years, still a man in his mid-seventies.
But that Raul is the defense minister in charge of the military. The military is also in charge of the domestic economy in Cuba. So I think you‘re going to see a really, tightly controlled transition whenever the time comes that Castro has outlived ten American presidencies, whenever that time does come.
And then, I think, it‘s going to be really up in the air as to whether there is any liberalization. In the first part of a transition after Castro, whenever that might be, it‘s going to be a much tighter-controlled Cuban regime.
MATTHEWS: Let me just ask you to sum up the next couple of minutes. We‘re looking at something we thought was passed, I said before when we began this broadcast tonight, I thought that this anti-Americanism or this ideological type was, we left behind back in the ‘60s. And certainly, at the end of the Cold War, we thought this left vs. right attitude about north and south had passed from the scene. Is it back?
MITCHELL: I think it is back. I think it is fueled by the same problems that America‘s happening—is experiencing, rather, in Europe, in the Middle East. We‘ve got problems overseas.
Condoleezza Rice has in fact dedicated herself to try to fix some of those problems, but some people have suggested that the first four years of the Bush administration were really four years that not only the war, but in other things, in global trade treaties, in global warming, environment, a lot of other policies and certainly the policy towards Cuba, where the United States really showed arrogance to the rest of the world.
It‘s paying some—now it is paying the price for some of that. You can argue it both ways, but there‘s always been anti-Americanism down in Latin America, anti-U.S. feelings in Latin America, but it is certainly coming to a head tonight in the streets of Buenos Aires.
MATTHEWS: Hold on there, hold on there, Andrea Mitchell of NBC is our chief foreign affairs correspondent. Let‘s go right now to another reporter on the scene. We‘re watching them it right now, on the streets of Mar del Plata, right there at the Summit of the Americas. Right now, I want to find out how the president is doing in all this.
Newsweek‘s Holly Bailey is there. How‘s the president‘s security right now Holly?
HOLLY BAILEY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEWSWEEK: The president is in a safe zone. In fact, he‘s not going to see any of this. It‘s several blocks from him. He‘s not going to drive by us on its way back to his hotel. He‘s probably just going to see it, as most of us here, travelling with the president are, just looking at it on TV.
MATTHEWS: How are they separating this violence we‘re looking at right now, where they‘re tearing down these store fronts, smashing through what looks to be fiberglass windows. They‘re not doing a great job getting through, actually. And the president? Are they just putting on this show outside the perimeter?
BAILEY: Yes. It‘s basically outside the perimeter. So far, the White House hasn‘t commented at all on the demonstrations. You know, if the president was going to be dining with, you know, participants tonight in the summit, he‘s not going to see any of this.
MATTHEWS: Well, they‘re going to see it on television tonight and the people of Argentina are seeing it. How do you feel about it, being down there? Is this a scary situation?
BAILEY: Well, there is a lockdown. The protests are close to where all the traveling press are saying, so we‘ve been shuttling back and forth between the president‘s hotel and our hotel. Those are all suspended right now. So, we‘re kind of in limbo and seeing what‘s going on, and watching developments as they happen.
MATTHEWS: We‘re looking at a lot of police here with police riot shields. They‘re in their SWAT gear and they‘re facing down. Looking down this street at the gang of rioters. Is that far from where you are right now, Holly?
BAILEY: It‘s about a mile away from where I am.
MATTHEWS: Can you hear the noise? Can you hear the fireworks and everything? The explosives that are going off, these improvised bombs that are being shot here?
BAILEY: We actually hear a lot of sirens. I haven‘t heard any improvised bombs or anything like that, just a lot of sirens.
MATTHEWS: I‘m looking at a lot of Molotov cocktail action here in the street. People are throwing these, whatever they‘ve developed. They don‘t look too professional, but they look like they might hurt you if they hit you. They‘re all along the street here right now in the main drag.
Tell me about this part of town that the rioters are controlling. Is this an important part of the metropolis or is this somewhere in the outskirts? What are we looking at here. They‘re all over the street there.
BAILEY: It‘s essentially right downtown.
It‘s right—it‘s about five blocks from where the summit is going on. Lots of stores, lots of restaurants, a lot of business establishments.
What you‘re seeing on TV, I mean, I think the pictures show that, you know, this town was a lot—very much deserted. I think they warned people to get out. A lot of people did.
And so basically it‘s a lot of protesters down there right now, but average people I think heeded the warnings and left town.
MATTHEWS: We‘re watching these guys fire these sort of improvised little guns, a cannon of—they‘re shooting what look to be little spots of flame into the air right now.
Are these people—have you gotten close enough to them to know whether they are, quote, “students,” closed quote, left-wing people from campus, poverty-stricken people from the barrios or what? Who are these people that are rioting right now?
BAILEY: I personally haven‘t gotten close enough to see who they are. But, you know, this is a picture that we see a lot when we‘re traveling abroad with the president. We saw similar riots at the G-8 Summit, you know, the past few years in a row.
This is—you know, it‘s devastating to look at on television, but this is a picture that we‘ve increasingly seen.
MATTHEWS: Hold on there, Holly. It‘s great to get your report at such close range.
Let me go back to Andrea Mitchell.
Andrea, you‘ve seen so much traveling with the president all these years. Is this something—is this part of what we have to deal with in the world whenever the president travels?
MITCHELL: It is, and I think they expected it at Mar del Plata. They knew that this was going to happen. They expect this whenever this president travels.
And obviously, the Secret Service takes all of this into account when they plan these things. It‘s been suggested that these summits are really anachronistic, that there‘s no reason to hold them.
But we still see the leaders wanting to get together, they want to do the sort of show-and-tell parts of it.
The presidents themselves are not that happy with these summits and have long argued that they ought to be scaled back.
But this is part of the deal. They go to summits in Latin America, they go to the APEC summits. These summits are held—whenever the leaders plan to get together, they have to expect that these kinds of protests are going to happen.
MATTHEWS: Andrea, I thought it was a vivid shot we just saw of a McDonald‘s down there, a McDonald‘s hamburger store. And it seems like that must be the love-hate attitude people have—they can‘t resist our hamburgers and our culture and our movies and our music, in some cases, but they also resent this sort of cultural imperialism I guess at the same time, right?
And we saw this also, you know, during the ‘80s when Ronald Reagan was trying to deploy missiles and go up against the Soviet bloc, all of those showdowns. We go to NATO meetings in Berlin and you‘d have the Greens marching through and throwing things.
Every American president has had to deal with this, including Bill Clinton, who was certainly more popular overseas than some of his Republican counterparts, but still even he had to face those anti-globalization protests in Washington as well.
I think there is an added element though. The war has certainly made George Bush less popular overseas. The State Department has failed repeatedly to come up with a solution to public diplomacy, the latest of course is Karen Hughes carrying on in the wake of Margaret Tutwiler, who preceded her, and Charlotte Beers.
Most of what we focus on when we talk about this is the problem we have with the Arab world, but this is a reminder that our problem is not only in the Arab world.
MATTHEWS: Hugo Chavez, the man who may have sparked this demonstration today, or may not have, by his demagogic language against the United States and the free trade agreement this morning before a much larger crowd than this, some 40,000 people—was he exploiting the invasion by our forces of Iraq, by saying there‘s talk out there of the United States invading Venezuela?
I mean, most Americans would find that laughable, but it‘s apparently not laughable to his audience.
MITCHELL: Well, it‘s a great hot button to push.
And he, in fact, also I believe offered American-made F-16s, which were of course conveyed to Venezuela under the previous regime, to Cuba. He said he was going to give them to Cuba, and Fidel Castro said that there was no need to accept them, or Fidel Castro‘s foreign minister, Perez Roque said there was no need to accept them.
It would be a violation of Venezuela‘s agreement not to transfer this kind of technology to Cuba and it would have created tremendous problems. And I think Cuba saw the danger in that.
By the way, you asked me earlier about the future of Cuban-American relations, and even though the Cubans had said they would accept American disaster relief, now apparently in the last day or so there have been problems in negotiating even for that kind of humanitarian aid and the State Department had to issue a statement today saying it may not work out.
MATTHEWS: If you looked at Latin American as a whole, all the way down to Tierra del Fuego at the tip of Latin America, tip of South America, who‘s more popular, Fidel Castro or the average American president, without bringing Bush‘s name into this, the average American president?
MITCHELL: Well, generally, Fidel Castro.
Although we should say that in the last couple of years Fidel Castro has angered the European Union, which includes of course Spain, has angered Canada, Mexico and a number of his traditional allies by arresting dissidents, economists, writers, protesters—all jailed.
So he has also done things that have been so outrageous that they have offended his strongest allies.
But that said, Fidel Castro certainly, at least on the streets of Latin America, is a much more popular figure than any American president.
MATTHEWS: Yes, that‘s something that blows our minds when we hear about it.
Stay with us, Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News.
Peter DeShazo is the former deputy assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs under President Bush and President Clinton. He‘s the director of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here in Washington.
Peter, thank you for joining us. What do you make of this?
PETER DESHAZO, DIR. OF AMERICAS PROGRAM, CSIS: Well, there have been protests at just about every other summit. There were protests in Quebec City in 2001. That‘s really nothing unusual.
There is frustration in the region with the lack of jobs and with persistent poverty, and the United States.
The vision of the United States has suffered in the region with the invasion of Iraq.
But again, protests against the summit and against a U.S. president, that‘s not unusual.
MATTHEWS: Well, let me ask you to segment it. The influence of the Iraq war on this crowd, a minority influence or a majority influence?
DESHAZO: I think the war has been largely unpopular in Latin America.
MATTHEWS: Why do they care enough to go out—I mean, most Americans have never been in a riot, they haven‘t gone out and put on riot gear and gone out and faced the police.
What drives you to the level of this performance, this street theater here, knocking down buildings and breaking glass and destroying property? Can you be driven to that level of hostility by a war in Iraq waged by a country a global way?
DESHAZO: Well, there may be—I can‘t speak for the people who are protesting, I don‘t know exactly what is driving them.
But, you know, clearly, breaking the law and taking the law into their own hands is something that goes beyond democratic protests.
MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about the trade issue.
The poor people of the world, or at least some of the people who speak for them, seem to feel that poverty is—grows because of the globalization factor.
Is it—is there in fact evidence of that in countries like Argentina? Are the upper middle-class and the wealthy doing better with free trade because they can sell to us, but yet the poor people‘s—value of their labor drops? I mean, what—is there an actual objective reality to this anger?
DESHAZO: Well, free trade is one of the motors of economic development.
At the summit, there are different viewpoints as to what creates economic growth, how to create jobs. That‘s part of the debate that will be going on.
But the U.S. position clearly is that free trade is an important component of economic growth, especially sustainable economic growth.
MATTHEWS: But the losers here are out in the streets. Why are they losers?
DESHAZO: Again, you‘d have to—I don‘t know exactly who these people are.
Maybe they‘re not losers, maybe they‘re people who are there for political purposes. I really couldn‘t say.
MATTHEWS: I wonder about that, too. Sometimes so-called students are really just lefties who sit around on campus and talk left-wing politics over coffee and then they see an opportunity like this and they feel like their real Che Guevara types—I don‘t know. There may be a lot of romance in this, throwing fire bombs at Americans and at your own police.
But we‘re watching it right now and it looks—it doesn‘t look necessarily deadly, but it seems a bit scary.
And, Peter, you think this lines up with the kinds of things we‘ve seen here in the States, like in Washington, D.C., when every time the World Bank has a meeting, or anybody is getting together here, or the International Monetary Fund, or the meetings up in Seattle, those kinds of world globalization meetings?
DESHAZO: It doesn‘t surprise me that there are protests taking place.
I think what‘s more important is to look beyond this to the issues of the summit itself. There are issues of real importance that are being discussed there, issues that have a bearing on the well-being of all of the citizens of the hemisphere. And that‘s really where attention ought to be focused.
MATTHEWS: OK. Peter, thank you very much.
Peter DeShazo of the Center for Strategic and International Studies here in Washington.
Let‘s go now to a familiar person, David Gregory is joining us. He‘s joining Andrea and me.
David, what is the president‘s situation here, as far as you understand, down there in Mar del Plata?
DAVID GREGORY, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we‘ve seen this quite a lot.
The first summit like this that I can remember covering the president was in Canada and it was exactly the same scenario, where the summit goes on and they don‘t even see—meaning all the world leaders, including President Bush—don‘t even see what‘s going on in a secure zone where the meeting, where the summit actually takes place. And then outside of that you have these protests that build. President Bush may have been seeking the world stage for little bit of a respite from the politics that have been hurting him so badly in Washington.
Well he‘s getting a fresh reminder of this administration‘s standing in the rest of the world, which remains quite low. And so, this is a mixture of his, not only what you‘ve been talking about, his free trade policies and message of prosperity that doesn‘t seem to be getting through to all levels of society throughout much of Latin America and Central America.
But this is also a view about this president, a view about the war, a view about his standing vis-a-vis, the rest of the world. And so we see this time and again at these kinds of summits. There‘s a degree of danger to all of this, if you‘re caught up in it. But in a city like this in Argentina, wherever these summits are taking place, people leave their homes.
It‘s a sad fact about these summits, they‘re not great for local business because everybody gets out of town because they know that there‘s young people coming in. These‘s some of these people who are protesting, I don‘t know for a fact in this case, but in past summits are people who travel around from international meetings to international meetings.
And I‘ve seen them up close in a lot of cases, Chris. Again, I don‘t want to speak for this particular case, and a lot of them are just simply up to no good. They‘re not always that principled. But they know that they‘re being disruptive.
And the difficulty for the White House is that again, the story line of this summit, which was not going to get a whole lot of play in the first place, is being further disrupted by these images, which as you pointed out, are being beamed throughout Central America, and of course, throughout America as well, and the rest of the world, for that matter. It‘s a further distraction, it just derails the message of what the summit is all about.
MATTHEWS: There‘s one interesting political element, if you look at this closely. You know, back when we have our riots in America, these demonstrations if you want to call them that, against meetings of global organizations in Seattle or D.C., people don‘t have to wear masks because they know they live in a society where their civil liberties will be respected, even if they‘re rioters.
I noticed a lot of these people, David, who are demonstrating in the streets and throwing fire bombs and smashing windows are covering their face. That does suggest to me that this government‘s for real when it comes to retaliation.
GREGORY: Well, I‘ve been seen that all over the world when there‘s protests. It‘s because a lot of them want to be able to withstand the tear gas and keep throwing it back.
MATTHEWS: But I also see a lot of masks here, all over the place. Let me ask you about this—you described the situation as the layout is, that the president is secure, as are the other world leaders, from the rioters.
I remember being in Paris covering a summit years ago, a G-7 summit, and the reporters ourselves were kept from seeing the summiteers. So, this kind of penumbrae of privacy that seems to come with summitry, I guess, is pretty practiced by now.
GREGORY: It is, and we‘re getting indications from the scene there that they‘re beefing up security outside the Sheraton hotel, where the president is actually staying, so that the rioting doesn‘t get anywhere near there.
I can remember actually staying at the president‘s hotel in Canada when I had been out covering the demonstrations and the Secret Service wouldn‘t let me back into his hotel, because I had remnants of tear gas on me.
So, they‘re very serious about that zone of privacy and that zone of protection for the president and these other world leaders. But a more substantive point again, is what you see manifested on the street, is this sense that the politicians get together and they talk about things like globalization and how it‘s going to be great for everybody and the economies, particularly in this part of the world, are not improving. They‘re not moving forward at the same clip as other countries around the world, including the United States, so they feel very much left behind.
And as I think you mentioned a few moments ago, one of the underlying themes of this summit is this battle between the United States and Venezuela and Chavez. The president saying today that he‘s going to be polite when they encounter one another, but this is a government that we are very much at cross purposes with. And you had Hugo Chavez encouraging people to go out and protest against this president, against the war in Iraq and against the economic model, the Central American free trade zone that he very much has been fighting against.
MATTHEWS: Well, the president, we all thought was going down to Argentina to escape some of the political—not political nonsense, but subtle combat back here at home. Are you surprised that he was hounded even down there by situations about his situation back in Washington vis-a-vis Karl Rove and Scooter Libby and the vice president?
GREGORY: Not at all, because this is a traveling political difficulty for the president and one they know they‘re going to face. This is the first time he‘s taken questions since the indictment of Scooter Libby came down.
Again, the president won‘t address it. They know here within the White House, they‘ve got an immediate and pressing political problem and that is the legal limbo of Karl Rove. There have been discussions about whether he is too distracted to continue, whether he ought to stay at the White House.
And I thought it was telling today and very significant that the president would only say that he wouldn‘t comment on Karl Rove‘s situation at the White House, whether he would stay at the White House or whether he did anything wrong, while this investigation is continuing.
It‘s a very serious one for the White House and they know that Karl Rove would most certainly have to go were he to be indicted. And even if he‘s not, they‘re struggling here with how they address the conduct of senior aides in the Wilson/Plame affair, whether anything was illegal in of that activity or not.
The president‘s going to have to account for some of that behavior. I think there‘s one other interesting point, Chris, as we look at these images from Argentina.
That in Clinton‘s time in the White House, in President Clinton‘s time, in the second term, when he had such difficulties with Monica Lewinsky and impeachment, he could go overseas, he could go out of the country and focus on mid-East peace or other matters, and his standing in the world was so much different than this president.
This president can‘t escape the United States and go abroad and get a better reaction. I‘ve been all over the world with this president and the reaction is much the same. He is not as much of a popular and beloved figure, not even in parts of Europe like Great Britain, where they‘re very much allies in the war may Iraq. It‘s quite the opposite, so it‘s difficult for him politically to do that.
MATTHEWS: Hold on there, David. Hold on there, Andrea.
Let‘s go to Lawrence Eagleburger, former secretary of state. Mr. Eagleburger, this clash of unpopularity abroad and political problems at home is certainly no way to spend a weekend for President Bush, is it?
LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE (on phone): No, but at some point, Chris, you guys will all have to remember that this is not the first time that presidents have been attacked like this abroad.
And this was cooked up, none of this is to say that we don‘t have to take these sorts of things somewhat seriously. But this one has clearly been cooked up the radical left. And I have been there are only something like 1,000, less than 2,000 demonstrators. I can run that up any time, if you give me enough money.
MATTHEWS: What do they get out of it, what do they get out of these TV pictures that have been coming back here and of course, being beamed around Latin America?
EAGLEBURGER: I think they get a lot out of it. Not so much out here, unless we Americans totally misjudge what‘s going on. But I think around the rest of the world and certainly in Latin America, this will receive a receptive audience from those particularly who don‘t like George Bush. But let‘s also remember that this demonstration, I gather, is not just against President Bush, but against the fact that the United States is rich and they‘re poor, and it‘s all our fault, and that sort of thing.
But, you know, there have been other presidents that have been demonstrated against, and President Bush will just have to take on the chin. That‘s all.
MATTHEWS: What about the history, my history and your history, is to remember of course, that it seems somewhat personal because of course, there‘s a lot of anti-Bush, his name is used by the rioters, it‘s used by the friends of Hugo Chavez, the anti-American president of Venezuela. And of course the Castro people. But I remember in the ‘50s when Richard Nixon had to go through some hellish crowds in Venezuela and Caracas, he almost got killed, at least once. And then Kennedy gets elected, he goes down there and he‘s a hero. I mean, nothing changed—well, what did change?
EAGLEBURGER: I didn‘t realize you were that old, Chris.
MATTHEWS: Well, I remember it, and so do you, Mr. Secretary. How do you explain the differential between the way they treat our leaders?
EAGLEBURGER: Well, the fact of the matter is that while he was vice president, that represented one thing. When he was not vice president, that represented another.
But, there is a long-time history, and some of it by the way, from our point of view deserves, given the way we handled the Latin hemisphere during the 1910s and ‘20s.
But, this has been a long history of dislike of the United States on the part of some. But I think, frankly, this is now, in Latin America, a less ponderous group of people than it was once.
But a lot of this is pure, simple, economics and it‘s frustration on the part of the people involved, because their economies have not improved as they hoped they would or believed they would. And that is, frankly, a problem of the governments that are down there, not us.
MATTHEWS: OK, you got me on that one. You know, back in the 1930s, and I wasn‘t around then, Argentina was a richer country. The one we‘re looking at now, a richer country than our own, and a higher per capita income until the ‘30s. People blamed the miracle of Argentina‘s non-development on three or four factors. One is the elitism in the culture, which is worse than anything you see in Europe. The very elite don‘t care about the regular people, they just don‘t care about them. The attitude toward taxation, the attitude toward the military—they‘ve got the Spanish attitude toward the military, the old Italian attitude in Italy toward taxation and a British attitude...
EAGLEBURGER: Don‘t forget corruption, don‘t forget corruption.
MATTHEWS: Right—toward class.
Is that all—is it a cultural, an anthropological problem?
How can a country with every benefit in the world—they‘re all Europeans, they came over to this part of the world, they had this tremendously lush, natural resources, they had everything, including a perfect climate, like we do in parts of America, North America, and yet they‘re blowing it.
EAGLEBURGER: Yes. Well, first of all, if you think I can answer that in 10 seconds, 10 minutes, there‘s no way to answer that quickly except to say that the one thing that has been different for some period of time is the tendency in most of these Latin American countries and governments has been for some years now—I won‘t say to take a socialist position, but certainly a position in which the government was far more involved in the economies and in running these countries than in the United States.
And one of the things that the president now is trying to do that would make so much difference, I think, which is a free trade zone, but—for the whole area.
But the point is there are those down there who are scared to death of it because they will know they can‘t compete with some others in the free trade zone.
It goes on and on. And the fact of the matter is the history between the United States and Latin America is substantially different in the sense that these people have come from countries and have acted within these countries with a desire for government involvement, which has proved by and large not to be useful.
We‘re talking to former secretary of state Lawrence Eagleburger.
Let me go back to Andrea Mitchell and to David Gregory.
David Gregory, you first. This president, he‘s very much committed to free trade as a policy, right?
GREGORY: Absolutely. Absolutely has been.
GREGORY: Well, because I think there is the view that a rising tide lifts all boats, simply put. And if there aren‘t barriers to trade, you know, the economies that we‘re talking about in this part of the world, in this hemisphere will improve, and that it will have an overall impact, positive impact on important social issues like immigration.
And he‘s a proponent of it, frankly, all over the world.
MATTHEWS: And it‘s an alternative to the traditional aid program, right, the 1960s Alliance for Progress in Latin America, the old Point Four program of helping Third World countries? It‘s a totally different approach than sending a few million bucks over to these countries, right?
GREGORY: Well, right.
And there‘s concerns about the corruption that Secretary Eagleburger was talking about, and just being part of international organizations that will just lavish money on governments to spend how they wish.
Here they‘d like to kind of bring everybody into the tent of free trade and free enterprise and have, you know, a free exchange of goods to encourage businesses and entrepreneurs to flourish in that part of the world.
But, again, the problem is—that you see among some in countries like Argentina and elsewhere in Central America, and really throughout the world, for that matter, where these summits are held, is that people representing the poor and representing those who felt they‘ve been left behind stand up and say, “Wait a minute, all the politicians are talking and there‘s no action on the ground here, there‘s no action on the streets. America is rich. Other countries around the world are rich and we‘re being left behind. What gives? This free trade model is not working for us.”
And so then you‘ve got somebody like Hugo Chavez who stands up and says, “I‘m speaking for you. I‘ll protect you and I‘ll stand up to George Bush and his illegal wars, his unjust wars,” as he would argue.
And there‘s tremendous popular support for that.
MATTHEWS: OK. Thank you, David Gregory. Hang in there.
Hang in there, Andrea Mitchell.
Let‘s go to Michael Fletcher right now, another reporter who‘s on the scene at Mar del Plata down there near the president.
Michael, where are you located right now?
We‘re looking at this crowd, this footage that‘s been taken the last several hours here in the streets down there, of the protesting and the more violent activity, the window breaking, the general destruction down there.
Where are you located right now compared to where we‘re looking?
MICHAEL FLETCHER, “WASHINGTON POST”: I‘m actually about two miles from where all that action is occurring right now. I‘m at the Sheraton Hotel, which is where a lot of the foreign dignitaries are staying and at the press file center with the White House press corps.
MATTHEWS: Are you folks watching television like we are?
FLETCHER: Certainly are. Exactly. We‘re trying to follow it through kind of the narrow lens of TV from here, but it‘s really hard to know what‘s going from that.
MATTHEWS: What about the president‘s security?
Again, people in this country care about our president. Is he OK?
FLETCHER: He‘s totally OK. I mean, there are like three rings of barriers, there are thousands of police here. And this, actually, protest is mild next to what you saw some years ago in Quebec City, where some of their official events of the summit were actually disrupted by the protest.
These guys have gone ahead with their opening plenary session as if nothing was happening out in the street because there are, like I say, three rings of security between them and the protesters, and about eight blocks, eight or nine blocks.
MATTHEWS: Did you see this coming, as a reporter, this part of the program down there, not just the meeting of the world hemispheric leaders, but the—this convention I should say of everybody that doesn‘t like what‘s going on economically in the world?
I mean, we‘ve seen this again and again, you know, across the world over the last five or six years, you know, beginning probably most notably in Seattle, where you had widespread rioting, you know.
These anti-globalization forces are out there very strong and it‘s an idea that resonates internationally.
MATTHEWS: You know, we‘ve gotten our latest—Michael, we‘ve gotten some late report—I just had it put in my ear—which is fascinating.
We‘re watching all this activity, and I was wondering to what extent is it basically theater for the cameras. Breaking windows, that makes good pictures, but nobody gets hurt. It costs some money to the store owners, but it doesn‘t really cause any tragedy. I‘ve noticed that only two people now have been injured down there. And all this rioting in the streets of Mar del Plata, two police have been injured, 60 people arrested.
That‘s not a tragic situation, is it? Not yet.
FLETCHER: No, not at all, not at all. Not yet.
And police—it looked to me like the police are being very restrained. I mean, there are literally thousands of police, there are barricades up all over this town. And most of this town is almost—it has the feel of a ghost town. It‘s been evacuated.
I think people have come to expect—when you have these kind of
international economic summits, people clear out because this kind of
rioting—you know, you put it in quotes because I don‘t think it‘s all-
out rioting—it‘s come to be expected, sadly but true
MATTHEWS: All right.
It‘s theatrical to some extent. I don‘t want to play it down, but it‘s not like a rebellion or an insurrection.
Let me ask you about your situation. Have you walked the streets?
FLETCHER: Yes, I have. You know, we got in yesterday and I‘ve been out some. Went out last night, but it‘s difficult to move around. You know, you have to show your credential every three or four blocks, you have barricades everywhere, and most of the shops and businesses are closed.
People anticipated that this summit was coming and they got out of town.
MATTHEWS: What do you think the purpose of these summits is?
Because I know when—I was years ago trying to cover the G-7 in Paris and I get the feeling there is a lot of restraint on how close you get to the summiteers?
FLETCHER: Yes. That‘s part of the frustration of being a journalist at these things. You really are far removed. You sort of deal with the rhetoric at a distance.
We know the basic dynamic. We know that leftist governments are becoming more en vogue across Latin America, and there‘s like growing resistance to these free trade ideas.
I think your previous guest was saying that the real reason is that the people don‘t really see the benefits of it, not yet. But there are a lot of other issues that go with free trade—I mean, they come down to like governmental capacity, can governments deliver services and things like that?
And there have been a lot of problems across Latin America with that.
MATTHEWS: Who are the big new personalities on the left in our hemisphere right now?
FLETCHER: Well, I think Chavez is the biggest. I mean, we‘ve talked a lot about him, but I think he‘s become a real player across Latin America.
And he has that oil reserve to sort of buy friends, and he‘s been doing that.
MATTHEWS: He‘s been able to resubsidize Cuba. They were getting $2 billion a year in oil subsidies from the Soviet Union. With the demise of the Soviet Union, they‘ve had to—he‘s replaced that subsidy to some extent, hasn‘t he?
FLETCHER: Yes, he certainly has.
And I think the thing that makes him powerful, though, is that people relate to his methods. I mean, free trade‘s been tried to some degree, but maybe not fully across the continent. And it hasn‘t benefited—you know, at least in the lives of the poor, you have growing wealth disparities, you know, even though you have increased economic activity. That just means the rich are getting richer. And when he comes out with what we call populist rhetoric, it really does resonate.
MATTHEWS: When you‘re down there in Latin America, in capitals like Buenos Aires or near Mar del Plata, do you sense a greater distance between wealth and middle class and working class and poor than you see in the States or is it about the same?
FLETCHER: No, it‘s greater.
I think this region of the world—and, you know, I‘m based in Washington—but this region of the world has some of the greatest wealth disparities on the entire planet. And as you—even in our country you‘re getting more strains of this kind of gulf between the poor and kind of the professional classes and things like that.
And here it‘s just that you‘ve always had that, it‘s just been made worse by kind of the free trade models that they‘ve adopted. And I don‘t think the villain is necessarily free trade, but it goes along with government inefficiency and things like that.
MATTHEWS: And the enormity of the populations like Buenos Aires with an unbelievable population of poor people surrounding a small core, like Mexico City, a small core of people who live like a lot of Americans do.
You go to places—I‘ve been to Rio. You know, you see the same kind of thing. And, you know, the entire region is kind of that way.
And the Caribbean is probably worse, you know, some of the small islands there. It‘s clearly the issue.
MATTHEWS: You see the Dominican Republican, when you go to places like that, you see a nice little restaurant with all the Mercedes Benzs outside and right in the middle of what you would consider a poor neighborhood there‘s this wealthy enclave, and I guess—and I‘ve seen it in Latin America, I‘ve seen it down there in Buenos Aires, in that area, the same thing.
Where you‘re looking right now at the streets of Mar del Plata, which is where the Summit of the Americas is being held, and we‘re talking Michael Fletcher of the “Washington Post” who‘s been around covering these.
Is there any difference between being in a place like this watching this rioting, which is not that violent—we‘ve had two police officers injured so far, 60 people arrested, but generally is it seems to be a practiced demonstration against this globalization, meaning does this have a lot of similarity to what you‘ve seen in the states?
FLETCHER: Well, no. I mean, I think the kind of rioting you get in the states outside of this kind of globalization frame is, you know—I don‘t know. The word maybe is more passionate. People are really, you know, really objecting to something in their lives. You‘ve got a lot of people coming into town to protest these globalization meetings. So it‘s almost like a professional element to the protests.
MATTHEWS: Are they people of the left of just unhappy people? How would you describe them? I don‘t want to be casual about this. Who are they?
FLETCHER: I don‘t think it‘s an issue—I mean, from what I can tell, I mean, you have Maradona, the famous soccer car who lead a trainload of people from Buenos Aires coming down here last night. They arrived this morning for the rally at the soccer stadium where Chavez spoke.
But you also have activists. Cindy Sheehan was down here. You know, so you have a mixture of people who have various grievances, and they come together for things like this. But, again, I don‘t mean to minimize the ..
MATTHEWS: What does Cindy Sheehan do down there in Mar del Plata?
FLETCHER: I heard she was coming, but beyond that, I don‘t know. I didn‘t hear any reports of her activity today.
MATTHEWS: Maradona, who is the great soccer player was—I noticed he was doing a bit of theater himself, smoking a big Cuban cigar right in front of everybody.
FLETCHER: Is that what he did? I understand myself but ...
MATTHEWS: No, he was trying to show up the fact that he can trade with Castro, and the Americans can‘t. And he‘s their ally. I mean, Castro doesn‘t even smoke them for medical reasons, health reasons. But that‘s because—is that the symbol of that kind of free trade?
FLETCHER: I mean, you know, I think it is. And because I—I think a lot of people, when they ask a question why do we have a blockade with Cuba, you know, it‘s sort of like it‘s a hard question to answer. Why is this going on for 40 something years? So I think you have these strains of grievance that get mixed in here that really resonate with people, because there maybe is some unfairness in the policy, but you mix that in with a lot of other stuff that people bring to the table that maybe aren‘t as legitimate.
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s great having you report on the fly here.
Michael Fletcher of the “Washington Post,” Thank you for joining us. You‘re down there at a hotel in the town of Mar del Plata, where, of course, the Summit of the Americas has been held here. It‘s about globalization and the hemisphere, but, of course, it‘s been upstaged by this rioting we‘re watching here.
It‘s somewhat colorful, and thank God it‘s not as dangerous as it looks. We‘ve had a couple of injured police. Basically, about 60 people arrested in the crowd. It looks like it‘s somewhat theatrical, even though it may look dangerous.
Let me go back to our two correspondents back home here in Washington. Andrea, put this in perspective. If you‘re writing a brief note for history here, is this just part of the ongoing struggle between rich and poor, between free traders and protectionists, of little people against big people? How would you describe it?
MITCHELL: I would say it is the anti-globalization protest, plus the anti-George Bush emotion and political antipathy to Bush that you see increasingly overseas. So there is an anti-war element of this. David Gregory described exactly what it‘s been like to travel with Bush around the world, to be in Scotland, to be elsewhere in countries that normally would be friendly to America. And so there is certainly that extra element.
But this is just a continuation, I think, also of the anti-globalization protest that we saw starting in Seattle in 1999 and again in 2001 in Genoa, again in the United States in Washington D.C., every year when the World Bank meetings are held.
And I think it‘s a divide of rich versus poor, or left versus right, and of how poorly we communicate the economic goals of both Democratic and Republican American administrations to the rest of the world because doesn‘t seem to be any definition of what free trade accomplishes that can be persuasive to the people in the streets of Mar del Plata.
MATTHEWS: Is it also, as was pointed out by a reporter a couple minutes ago, a failure of government in that part of the world?
MITCHELL: Absolutely, these are governments have not only been stupid in terms of their own economic principles—I think that your conversation with Secretary Eagleburger certainly got to that point. The corruption in these governments has been profound.
And they always turn to the United States when they want to be bailed out, but they‘ve been told by the International Monetary group, as well as other multilateral organizations, economic organizations, that they have to heed their own economies and take some tough measures. And those measures are very, very difficult, especially for the 40 percent of Argentineans who are still poor and who have not seen any of the benefits of globalization.
MATTHEWS: And I want to remind everybody that back in the 1930s Argentina was richer country than we were, had a higher per capita income. It was the place you always talked about in the old movies, I‘m going to go marry a rich Argentinean.
Those days are over because of the failure of that government‘s economy, and I think—I‘ll just suggest this, I‘ll go back to David right now, David Gregory. The class system in Latin America is so extreme, the elitism is so painful, the inability to establish a strong middle class—isn‘t that all these elements, David, you read about in school and here they are on the streets of Argentina.
GREGORY: Well, I think that‘s true. I do though—I think it‘s worth emphasizing that there is a professional element, as Andrea pointed out, to this anti-globalization protest, the anti-Bush protest, that these protesters—and we can‘t know exactly what motivates them, are breaking window fronts of stores in their own communities in this city.
It‘s a statement to be get noticed, to get attention, to perhaps bring some attention to their plight, to their cause, but it certainly is pretty self-destructive. And so there‘s a desperation to it. But, again, I think they are also—as I‘ve seen this in north America, I‘ve also seen it in Europe.
I can remember the G-8 Summit in Genoa, Italy, where there was this kind of violence, where the police reaction was stronger, where there was a young boy, when I was in the streets, who was killed, and others—many other injuries.
The protests became a lot more violent, but, you know, you have a situation where the police in this case are trying to keep their distance. They try to keep it all localized to a certain area and let it sort of play out over the course of a couple days and just keep it as far away from the summit as possible.
MATTHEWS: These governments, like the Argentinean government today, do they have to make a commitment to the leaders of these summits that they‘ve got the firepower, the discipline, and the force level to protect the participants?
GREGORY: Well, certainly, and certainly a case when you‘re going to
send the president of the United States and the Secret Service—excuse me
will go in in advance and make sure the summit is fortified well enough and then they‘ll take additional measures and they see appropriate, but, you know, modern-day summitry has reached a level of sophistication that isn‘t all that sophisticated. It‘s keep the leaders totally sequestered in a secure zone.
I remember in Genoa, Italy, there was a ring around downtown Genoa that was impenetrable, with a huge fence. Now, we learned later, of course, that they were apprised of an al Qaeda threat to that summit so you had anti-aircraft missile batteries and so forth, so that took on a whole different dimension. But part of that ring of security was simply about these protesters.
MATTHEWS: David, you what country would want to host a summit because we‘re looking here at what looks likes the sacrificial aspect of any summit. You basically say we‘ll build a perimeter, but outside that perimeter is going to be hell, because the protesters and the rioters who want to destroy some property, you‘ve basically given them a target zone.
GREGORY: Right, right. Precisely. And it‘s tough because these summits, beyond what they‘re supposed to accomplish in the substance of the talks, were designed, I‘m sure, some years ago to be a boon to the host country and the host city. And in countries, like the Czech Republic, where there was a meeting a couple years ago, the wonderful city like Prague was just totally deserted because people leave town. Businesses, restaurants close.
Nobody really wants to be a part of it because of what plays out here, because of the anti-globalization movement that attracts a lot of outsiders in addition to those people within a country like Argentina, who are moved themselves to protest or who are encouraged by the likes of a Hugo Chavez to protest the mere presence of George W. Bush who carries his own baggage beyond being a free trader.
MATTHEWS: It‘s great it having you, David Gregory. You‘re covering this surprising display of the violence. Apparently it‘s not as tragic as it looks. We‘ve only got a couple of police officers down there in Argentina have been injured, and 40 people have been picked up.
So look, we‘re going to close the shop here right now on HARDBALL, this coverage of this hour. Thank you, David Gregory. I think to thank Andrea Mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent. It seems we‘ve learned some lessons that the left is still alive in this hemisphere.
Even though the Cold War is over, there‘s a lot of excitement here with regard to Hugo Chavez on the streets down there. It doesn‘t represent the middle class, perhaps. It does represent the violent crowd of poor people and troublemakers. Of course, let‘s put them all together here. And, of course, I‘m going to go right now—we‘re going to go back to our regular programming.
HARDBALL will return in one hour with the latest on this story, plus the CIA leak investigation, and a special guest, former First Lady Nancy Reagan. Right now, MSNBC‘s coverage of the protests in Argentina continues on THE ABRAMS REPORT with Dan.
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