Thursday, March 26, 2020

Covid-19 and Latin American Multilateralism

Mac Margolis has a thoughtful article on Covid-19 and multilateralism in Latin America. Right now governments are closing their borders precisely at a time when they need to join together to address this common threat. Alone they can't do it effectively. Regional institutions now are so ideology-based that governments move in and out of them, thus rendering them weak.

I agree with his assessment, but he does not mention one serious obstacle: the United States. We are already seeing a problem with Venezuela going to the IMF (which itself is quite amazing) because the U.S. insists only Juan Guaidó can do that. The Trump administration also has opposed UN and OAS efforts to combat corruption in Central America. The "America First" approach is built upon a paranoia of the multilateral institutions that Latin America needs.

Latin America already has a long history of failed attempts at multilateralism and unity. Hugo Chávez's latest version was founded on oil money and ideology and now is in tatters. It's always been an uphill climb, and now it's worse. It's like someone pushing back against Sisyphus, whose already carrying the damned rock.


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