Latin American Unity Cannot Be Dependent on Excluding the U.S.
cannot, as a matter of geographic, geopolitical
and economic fate, claim that the United States (and Canada) doesn't exert tremendous
influence on the subcontinent. … Therefore, we must first of all define the
terms on which Latin America and the Caribbean intend to exercise their unity:
against the United States or alongside it."
Mexican President Felipe Calderon looks on as Chile President Michelle Bachelet speaks to the Latin American 'Summit of Unity' in Cancun, Mexico, February 23. The 33 participants agreed to create a new alliance that excludes the U.S. and Canada.
The president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, inaugurated
the summit called Unity for Latin America and the Caribbean, which brings together
the 33 countries in the Americas, with the exception of the two richest (the
United States and Canada):
"We cannot remain disunited;
we cannot successfully take on the future based on our differences; now it's up
to us to unite without discounting the things that make us different … to unite
based on our similarities, which far outweigh our differences."
At the close of the first
summit of this kind, which was held late in 2008 in Bahia, El Salvador, [Brazil]
President Luiz Inácio Lula
da Silva said:
"All of us, from the
smallest to the largest country, are learning that the more we come together,
the more chances we'll have to participate in global politics; the more chances
we'll have to participate in global wealth; and the more chances we'll have to keep
the crisis that emerged in the rich countries from too strongly hitting the
countries that didn't create it."
The two speeches serve to
punctuate the fact that Latin America and the Caribbean continue to be a
subcontinent of copious rhetoric and of a thousand attempts at integration with
little union. Nothing new indeed: in his speech, Calderón noted that integration
"is the natural vocation of our people and our natural aspiration since
the beginnings of our independent nations." Doing the math: this year begins
the commemoration of 200 years of independence for the former Spanish colonies
in the Americas.
In other words, while there
have been consecutive summits of leaders with little more than a year in
between, Latin American leaders have sung the same song for 200 years. Yet they
never get anywhere except to another summit.
That's a pity because Lula is
right - despite it being obvious - when he says that, "the more we come
together, the more chances we'll have to participate in global politics."
It's even understandable that
there are difficulties progressing on integration, given the heterogeneity of
the 33 countries that are participating in the summit that opened yesterday,
ranging from impoverished Haiti to emerging Brazil. But right now, it is not
heterogeneity that's the biggest obstacle: the biggest difficulty lies in
defining what role the 33 intend for the United States, if it's that of enemy (sought
by the Bolivians and led by Venezuela) or of a partners that respects and
doesn't subjugate the region, as is preferred by Brazil, among others.
One cannot, as a matter of
geographic fate, claim that the United States (and Canada) aren't part of the
Americas. One cannot, as a matter of geopolitical and economic fate, claim that
the United States doesn't exert tremendous influence on the subcontinent.
Therefore, we must first of all define the terms on which Latin America and the
Caribbean intend to exercise their unity: against the United States or alongside
Posted by WORLDMEETS.US
Clovis Rossi is a special correspondent and member of the Folha
editorial board, is a winner of the Maria Moors Cabot award (USA) and
is a member of the Foundation for a New Ibero-American Journalism. His column
appears on Thursdays and Sundays on page 2 and on Saturdays in the World
Notebook section. He is the author, among other works, of Special Envoy:
25 Years Around the World and What is Journalism?