Latin America Has Excluded the U.S. … So What Now?
the nations of our continent have to relate with the world's leading power only
bilaterally? Won’t this be more complicated? Or are we going to ignore the
U.S.? And why has Canada been excluded?"
MAN 1: 'Should we tell him about the OAS?' Man 2: 'Keep Quiet!'
[El Universal, Mexico]
The creation of the Community
of Latin American and Caribbean States in Cancun, Mexico, can be seen as a
diplomatic triumph for Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, even though its birth
wasn't entirely free of friction between the leaders of Colombia and Venezuela.
While this is obviously a
“Bolivarian” victory - unexpectedly assisted by Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva of Brazil and Felipe Calderón of México - one has to ask what fate awaits
the new Community and what purpose it will serve? Is it to be a mortal blow to
the Organization of American States? Is it an attempt to replace the old body
after years of obvious weakness? Or perhaps the goal is to broaden the Union of
South American Nations (UNASUR),
which has yet to be officially launched due to a failure of member states to
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It seems, from the noises
emerging from Cancun - it is to be neither one nor the other. Supposedly, the
OAS will continue. But what functions will it retain if the Community of Latin
American and Caribbean States contains 33 nations, except for the United States
and Canada? It's clear that the major issues in Latin America and the Caribbean
will be addressed by this new regional body, and the OAS will lose what little-exercised
leadership it still possessed. Of course, the United States won't be interested
in staying in a marginalized OAS to which, moreover, it is the largest
financial contributor. If the OAS has been a dying body, it must now inexorably
die, regardless of what some people say.
The goal of excluding the
United States from the dialog in Latin American and Caribbean has been
achieved. But what now? Will the nations of our continent have to relate with
the world's leading power only bilaterally? Won’t this be more complicated? Or
are we going to ignore the U.S.? And why has Canada been excluded? Is it
because it is imperialist or because it's a highly developed country and, as
such, doesn't fit in well with the third world? With this decision the American
hemisphere has been cut in two, leaving the wealthy countries outside, so as,
in the words of President Lula, to achieve our “personality as a region.”
To say the least, what has
happened is very confusing, since it doesn't involve just three or four nations
that would like to capriciously modify the inter-American system. No, here we
have powerful countries with stable democracies and confidently serious
leaders. It's true that some of the presidents involved are nearing the end of
their terms, but this doesn't justify what has occurred.
The role of Hugo Chávez in
the creation of this new regional body was notable. Neither the U.S. or Canada
will participate, but Cuba will be a major player in the Community, avoiding
the need to bow in order to re-enter the undesirable OAS, from which it was
expelled due to U.S. pressure more than forty years ago.
Up to now, UNASUR has been a fiasco.
We'll have to wait and see what actions the brand new Community will adopt in
order to avoid being just a more weakened version of the OAS, with even more
infighting and results similar to those that have occurred in this part of the
Americas before, when dabbling in economic and political integration.