This article is a wake up call for all of us in North America. We have been utterly complacent in our private and public dealings between ourselves and the southern continent.
Curiously, I have just recently read the biography of Lula and if you do not have a clue, please google Lula. I took strong encouragement from his emergence. Real democracy is working in Brazil, and real progressive steps are been taken. It is never fast enough, but the potential is palpable.
Brazil is rising as another super economy, not unlike India and China with appropriate political reliability to go with it. Brazil’s rising middle class will soon dominate the remainder of South America and establish a pan S. American consensus in dealing with the North and elsewhere.
The day of apparent heavy handed USA interventionism is fast disappearing and this is for the better. The US never wanted it, but confronted by yet another version of broken governance it was always unavoidable.
We should do all that is possible to welcome a Brazil led South America onto the world stage and greater international responsibility. The sooner Obama embraces Lula the better for all.
The Death of the Monroe Doctrine
by Shadi Bushra
Some hundred and fifty years ago, President James Monroe declared the entire Western Hemisphere the dominion of the United States of America. His none too subtle warnings to the European powers to keep out of Latin American affairs led to the budding of policies that would use enormous military, economic, and political pressure from Washington to dictate to Latin America the terms of their relationship.
Today, however, we are seeing a Latin America whose weariness and frustration with the United States is amounting to a sharp divergence of policies as our neighbors to the south pursue their national and regional interests with little regard for the United States’ opinion.
From Venezuela’s confrontational Chavez to Brazil’s more moderate Lula, leaders throughout Latin America are finding new partners on issues from development to defense. This November, Russian warships engaged in naval exercises with Venezuela followed by a visit to Cuba, the first such excursion to the Caribbean since the Cold War. In the same period of time, Chinese President Hu Jintao signed a free-trade agreement with Peru, and Brazil invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a state visit.
In response to these and other diplomatic overtures from rivals, Thomas Shannon, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs said, “We don’t subscribe to the hydraulic theory of diplomacy that when one country is up, the other is down - that if China and Russia are in the area our influence has somehow waned.” In any case, it is no longer possible to say that the United States is the only power which Latin America can, or particularly wants to do business with.
As our international image and with it our global influence has decreased, many countries are realizing that overly friendly or close relations with the United States are no longer necessary to their survival.Beyond such overt encroachments by competitors, much of America’s own policy towards Latin America has led to a cooling of relations between Washington and much of the region.
We have continued to insist that NAFTA and CAFTA have promoted growth despite evidence to the contrary. Meanwhile, bilateral agreements with Colombia, Panama, and Peru are pending specific conditions or Congressional approval.
Despite the free trade agreements in place and under negotiation, the de facto death of the US-backed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) seems to be indicative of a broader trend in Latin America which recognizes that we live in an incredibly globalized world where capital and markets can be found just as easily in China or Russia as they can in the United States.
While Russia has been focused largely on military sales, China has kept itself open to any and all opportunities. Two-way trade with the region shot up twelvefold since 1995 to $110 billion last year, according to the Inter-American Development Bank. China’s share of the region’s imports also jumped, to 24 percent from 9.8 percent in 1990, while the U.S. share shrunk to 34 percent from 43 percent.
Additionally, China has offered loans with far less conditions than international or American institutions.However Latin America is not only looking for assistance from America’s global competitors; the region is increasingly turning inward to solve its problems. The economic crisis and the global powers’ uncoordinated reactions reaffirmed that developing countries would have to unite if they were to weather this economic storm, and the political and social challenges that came with it.
A recent regional summit put a much finer point on it by excluding the United States and inviting Cuba, which Washington has attempted to make a pariah in the hemisphere. Raul Castro’s presence and the warm welcome extended him by the summit’s host, Brazil’s President Lula, and their counterparts from the 31 other countries represented marked a sharp deviation from Cuba’s 1961 expulsion from the Organization of American States (OAS) at the United State’s behest.
The summit, which called for greater economic integration (including very vocal and at times confrontational calls to lift the embargo on Cuba), a regional bank for countries to turn to before the despised IMF and World Bank, and reducing dependence on US arms by improving South American defense industries. To some, this summit gives the image of a region that is turning increasingly hostile towards that US.
But in reality, no leader in the area is demanding anything from the United States beyond respect of their sovereignty and their right to make decisions in the best interest of their people. Where those interests are in agreement with ours, as they often are, we can work in concert to achieve common goals. Where they conflict, we must realize that we can no longer impose our will upon the Latin American people. That, at the very least, has been made thoroughly clear.