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Americas Summit Cements ‘North American Isolation’ (Opera Mundi, Brazil)


“The U.S. remains a major global power, and it will continue to be so for a long time to come. But it is no longer able to dictate to Latin America - with the exception of Mexico, which is tied to the U.S. via NAFTA. Everyone else is acting in unison. … They no longer accept U.S. command, and there is an awareness that the Latin American states form a bloc with common interests.”


-- William da Silva Gonçalves, professor of international relations at the State University of Rio de Janeiro


By Thassio Borges


Translated By Brandi Miller


April 16, 2012


Brazil - Opera Mundi - Original Article (Portuguese)

Colombia President Santos walks on to a stage with President Obama, at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, April 14.


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The Sixth Summit of the Americas, which ended on Sunday in Cartagena, Colombia, concluded without a final declaration, because of a lack of consensus in regard to Cuba’s absence. For the global affairs specialists consulted by Opera Mundi, the position adopted by the Latin American countries reflected the strength of the region in the face of the increasingly obvious isolation of the United States.


“This conference reverses the traditional behavior of the early 20th century, when the U.S. dictated the Latin American agenda. That has changed. The U.S. no longer leads the region,” said William da Silva Gonçalves, professor of international relations at the State University of Rio de Janeiro.


For Gonçalves, although the scenario is increasingly clear, the North Americans have a hard time assimilating the new relationships playing out with these countries, particularly those in South America. “Obviously, they [the U.S.] have some difficulty assimilating all this, especially in terms of relations with Brazil, which must now be based on equality,” he added.


Gonçalves’ analysis is also reflected in recent speeches given by President Dilma Rousseff about the new relationship between Brazil and the U.S. Last week, during her visit to Washington, Dilma said that relations between the two countries should be based on equality, with neither being harmed by protectionist trade measures. At the summit, the president pointed out that American leaders should work, “on the integration of our countries and our economies.”


Cuba’s exclusion


Despite this, the North Americans haven’t given up their policy of excluding Cuba. The Caribbean country was the only one in the Americas not invited to participate at the summit in Cartagena. The U.S. exclusion only garnered the support of Canada, but that was enough to block other leaders at the meeting from signing a final declaration that would have defended Cuban participation at the next summit in Panama [2015].


“This is a historic issue. Since the first summit in 1994, Cuba has not participated because the country’s political system is not a “democracy.” Several of these forums have now been held and Latin American countries have increasingly pushed for Cubans to be included. This year, the pressure became concrete and certainly, this will be the last summit without the country,” said Luis Fernando Ayerbe, coordinator of the Institute of Economic and International Studies at the State University of São Paulo.


 “Without the presence of countries like Ecuador, Argentina and Brazil, for example, the summit will be hollow, with the U.S. losing out greatly, since the event is an important policy tool for the North Americans,” added Ayerbe. Gonçalves follows the same line of thought, pointing to the decline of U.S. “power” in Latin America.


“The U.S. remains a major global power, and it will continue to be so for a long time to come. But it is no longer able to dictate to Latin America - with the exception of Mexico, which is tied to the U.S. via the North American Free Trade Agreement. Everyone else is acting in unison. Of course, there are differences among some leaders, but that’s natural. They no longer accept U.S. command, and there is an awareness that the Latin American states form a bloc with common interests,” Gonçalves explained.


Given confirmation of Cuba’s absence, some leaders didn’t even take off for Colombia. Such was the case with Ecuador President Rafael Correa, who days before the summit confirmed his absence due to the veto of Cuba. On the eve of the summit without making it clear why, Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez from and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega announced that they couldn’t attend the meeting.



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On April 16, a group of intellectuals from several countries issued a statement supporting Correa’s stance on the veto of Cuba. “The decision ... not to participate at the Summit of the Americas, while the unilateral practice of excluding Cuba is maintained, is an act of dignity and consequence that we agree with and celebrate, and we invite other presidents to manifest the same level of support,” the intellectuals’ statement said.


On Sunday, hours before the end of the summit, Argentina President Cristina Kirchner decided to leave Cartagena thanks to a lack of consensus about the Malvinas Islands. Soon later, the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas declared that it would no longer participate in the summit if Cuba continues to be suspended.


 “The president of Brazil, leaders of the Caribbean and others in South America - not just ALBA members - have said that there will be no more summits without Cuba. We are in a process of disintegration because of one government: the United States,” accused Evo Morales, president of Bolivia and an ALBA member.


At a meeting with Obama in Washington last week, President Dilma also called for an end to the embargo on the Cubans. For Gonçalves, Brazil’s role in the issue is fundamental. “Brazil is a leader in the region. It is a leader that expresses common sense, and it has the largest industrial sector and a diplomacy with global impact,” declared the professor.


Colombian role


After the summit, in a statement to the local press, Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos played down the fact that the summit failed to produce a final declaration. Although he highlighted the agreements signed during meetings among the leaders, Santos stood alongside the rest of Latin America, asserting that there would not be another summit without Cuba’s presence.

Posted by Worldmeets.US


According to Gonçalves, the attitude adopted by the Colombian president, Washington’s main political partner in the region over recent years, was a highlight of the summit. For Gonçalves, Colombians realized that integration with other Latin American countries is more advantageous than agreements with the North Americans.


“Historically, evidence shows that aligning with the United States does not provide for the development of countries in the region. Colombian businessmen have pressured President Santos for the government to adopt new positions with regard to their neighbors, such as Venezuela,” he said.


Ayerbe also says that Colombia’s position is motivated by an interest in standing out as a regional leader. “Colombia has gotten stronger over recent years, it has grown economically, and its president had to change his attitude and to sidestep ideology,” he explained.


For Gonçalves, South American integration could provide even greater development for countries in the region. This position, which is increasingly isolating North Americans from the rest of America, was just seen in practice at the Americas Summit in Cartagena.




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[Posted by Worldmeets.US April 19, 5:49pm]



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