Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New regional organization

Latin American foreign ministers say they are on the brink of creating a new regional organization that would exclude the U.S. and Canada.  Right now, the Rio Group consists just of meetings rather than a formal institution.

There has been a mini-explosion of new regional political and economic institutions in recent years, most notably UNASUR (with its banking and defense offshoots) and ALBA.  Especially after the OAS froze in the headlights of the Honduras crisis last year, however, it is worth asking how new political organizations will bring new results.  Excluding the U.S. is a symbolic move, but what practical implications will it ultimately have?

There aren't actually that many IR specialists focusing specifically on Latin America, but it would be interesting to see a comparative analysis of the development of all these institutions and their effectiveness.


Anonymous,  9:27 AM  

Excluding the US and Canada would be a substantive change not just a symbolic move. To the extent you want to measure effectiveness, this action would be a pivotal issue. The US, for better or worse, has a major influence in the region. It will continue to do so for a long time.

The question is whether excluding the US would lead to greater progress on a number of international fronts--economic development, human rights, democracy, migration of peoples, drug trafficking, rights of women etc... I am skeptical.

Just when the US policy is in the hands of a new government with a non-interventionist approach, the idea of LA countries dismissing it, seems to present us with a great historical irony.

Kelby,  11:26 AM  

I think the exclusion of the US and Canada will be positive from the Latin American point of view. It will be easier for countries to come to both symbolic and real agreements without the intrusion of US political policy.

For instance, if the US or Canada had been invited to Mexico, do you think they would have agreed with Argentina's claim against Britain in the Faulklands, as all the Latin Countries did?

While the politics of Latin American countries are very diverse, they certainly have more in common with each other, culturally, economically, and politically than any do with the US.

The US tries to dominate every group it is a part of, be it financial institutions like the IADB or political ones like the OAS.

Take the Honduran Crisis, while the whole hemisphere comes out strongly against the coup, the US dallies, sends mixed signals, and acts ambivalent about the whole matter. Why include them in a group that would otherwise be united? Note, I am not saying the outcome would necessarily be different.

I'm not getting excited, but it seems like the will and timing for more inter-latinamerican cooperation here. wait and see.

Greg Weeks 1:22 PM  

If you watch Uribe and Chavez screaming at each other, then you get a sense of the unity.

Slave Revolt,  2:16 PM  

Greg, does it surprise anyone here that US backed Uribe and Chavez come to verbal blows?

Yes, this is a significant development, and this follows a trend that has been developing for over ten years now.

The US has been a huge transgressor in the Americas--from support of deathsquads, supporting coups, and funding anti-democratic elites against their populations. In a more perfect world, most US presidents would be brought before an international tribunal for repreated war crimes.

The US empire and its power is the elephant in the room, and this elephant casts its shadow even when it is not physically present in Mexico for this meeting.

But Gregs job is to poo-pooh and minimalize this break from empire.

Do you think Greg would ever get tenure if he was actually an enthusiastic proponent of regional unity outside the influence of empire?

Empire is the elephant in the room with the tenure review board as well.

Any cursory and honest examination of US actions in the Americas for the past century would undergird the idea that this meeting his pretty damned significant.

Thankfully, the empire is so consumed by its imperialist adventures and attacks on civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq that it hasn't been able exert itself in the Americas as they have in the past.

Unfortunately, the crimes of the US in those regions have lead to the displacement and deaths of millions of people.

No matter what the US does, domestically or foriegn, it digs its own grave a little deeper. Future generations will dance on this grave--if the wounded elephant doesn't decide to nuke the entire world into oblivion first. Yes, the ruling class and elites of the US are that stupid and savage.

Kelby,  2:32 PM  

The rivalry between Colombia and Venezuela is probably the biggest rift between any of the countries. Chavez and Uribe like to use each other as foils, and I am not sure that amounts to much more than political theater.

Anonymous,  6:16 PM  

Latin America can't govern itself and now they want a new organization?

If they had any sense they'd simply as the US to govern them and lend them their institutions. Much better for their populations. Look at Puerto Rico, richer than any other Latin nation.

Boli-Nica 3:53 PM  

If you watch Uribe and Chavez screaming at each other, then you get a sense of the unity.

you could feel the love in Bolivar and Miranda's stirring exchange extolling Latin American unity-


Mike 11:20 PM  

From what I've heard about academia, it's often more dangerous to support US policy in Latin America than it is to criticize other countries that act independently of the US. If anything, Greg is probably hurting promotion possibilities.

I'm not sure about this break from empire either. Which countries would want to break from the US exactly? One might argue that that is Chavez' ultimate plan. However, at his current pace he's going to have to hold onto power twice as long as Fidel Castro.

Anonymous,  7:19 AM  

For those of you who think the freedom from the US influence in the OAS would allow for true Latin American sentiment to come to the fore, please don't neglect the divisive issue of Cuba. Lula has had a rough two days in Havana simply because of bad timing. The hunger-striking dissident died while Lula was in Cuba praising the Castro dictatorship. He was in jail for demanding the right of free speech. European public opinion, especially Spain, is being very critical of the effort to remove the EU common policy on Cuba. Zapatero and his foreign minister Moratinos have said that there are signs of an opening and given the circumstances of the death, are now backtracking. Whether it is Lula or European socialists, until Cuba begins to change, there will be little Latin American unity. The left must be able to criticize fellow leftists, and the same for conservatives, or there will never be any "unity."

Slave Revolt,  12:53 PM  

Well, how about seeing some changes from the US empire. They still back brutal military dictatorships, are still involved in terrorist actions against popular movements.

But you cowards don't point up the fact of US terrorism and support for on-going repression.

The empire is the elephant in the room, everything they touch turns to shit.

When the empire changes its ways, then there will be breathing room to criticize short-comings of our allies.

Would it have been prudent to criticize Jews in the years of German repression prior to the Holocaust? Indeed, it would have been utterly stupid.

When you lackies take your face away from Uncle Sammie's crotch, then you will have a bit more credibility with your criticisms. Until then, you will not be trusted by anyone with a brain and a modicum of respect for basic human justice and equal rights.

Anonymous,  7:01 PM  

Slave Revolt--

I can't count all the names you call people but I suggest you read up on how the Cuban military treated Mr. Zapata who is described by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience. I am sorry that after 50 years of corrupt tyranny you still can't attribute the Castro bros. actions to their own free will. The idea that the Cuban govt.'s thugs are victims akin to Jews in the Holocaust is a profoundly immoral statement. Ten percent of the population has left and 50% more would follow if it were not an island. All this despite world class health care and educational systems. LOL People who vote with their feet--leaving in 1950s Chevys refashioned as rafts-- are just a clear reflection for a failed govt. that falsely clams to rule in the name of the people.

It may take the Latin American left and European socialists a while to get on board with stating the obvious, but at least readers here will know that you are in the deep bunker with Fidel and Raul.

Anonymous,  7:09 PM  

The socialist paper of Madrid is reporting that four more political prisoners are starting a hunger strike. The prisoners are labeled prisoners of conscience by Amnesty International.


Anonymous,  8:17 AM  


Justin Delacour 2:02 AM  

Just when the US policy is in the hands of a new government with a non-interventionist approach, the idea of LA countries dismissing it, seems to present us with a great historical irony.

The basic premise of your argument is not well substantiated. The Obama Administration hasn't altered U.S. policy toward the region. The United States remains highly antagonistic to its regional rivals (in Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia). Moreover, the United States did not play a constructive role in the Honduras debacle. In fact, it actually worked to sideline the OAS throughout the coup. I suspect that's part of the reason why we're seeing some enthusiasm for the exclusion of the U.S. and Canada from the new grouping.

Justin Delacour 2:33 AM  

If you watch Uribe and Chavez screaming at each other, then you get a sense of the unity.

Regardless, I think it's more constructive for Latin America to work out these conflicts on its own rather than to have the United States try to impose its own self-serving "solutions" on the region. As the Rio Group meeting showed, other Latin American states were much better prepared to mediate between Chavez and Uribe than the United States would have been.

Greg's pessimism about the new regional grouping doesn't logically follow from the facts to which he points. Greg notes that the OAS failed on Honduras, but how does that support the case that the inclusion of the U.S. and Canada in the new regional grouping would somehow be preferable? That doesn't follow. On the question of Honduras, the United States and Canada were precisely the states that proved most obstructionist both within and outside the OAS.

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