It is one thing to participate in globalisation as a subordinated nation. It’s another to do so as a politically, economically and culturally integrated region. The global market does not create regional identities. Regional integration does, but today we are further than ever from achieving this objective.
Manuel Robles Sosa
As right-wing government decisions undermine integration, Latin America is regressing to the era of so-called ‘interamericanism’ under imperial domination, warns the Peruvian consultant Alberto Adrianzén.
A former presidential adviser in his country and a consultant on international politics and migration issues, Adrianzén made the comment during a recent interview as he reflected on the Colombian government’s decision to leave the Union of South American Nations, USAN (In Spanish Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, Unasur) and Ecuador’s withdrawal from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).
What do Colombia’s withdrawal from USAN and Ecuador’s from ALBA mean for Latin American integration?
They signify that the efforts to implement projects of not only economic but also political integration have failed. Colombia’s exit from USAN, coupled with the indefinite withdrawal from the organisation of other countries such as Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, as well as Ecuador’s surprising decision to leave ALBA, constitute the clearest sign yet that a majority of governments in South America – and I would say the region – have no desire to create international political mechanisms to position South America as a significant player in the on-going restructuring process of the international system.
In part this is because of the individual errors made by progressive governments, and in part because the right has gained ground in recent years.
It is a huge mistake to ignore regional integration in the belief that the integration of individual countries into the global market takes precedence. Even more so now that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, has moved back to bilateralism at the expense of multilateralism, as the recently modified Free Trade Agreement with Mexico demonstrates.
And when we add to all of this the crisis in the Andean Community (CAN) and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur), as well as the difficulties being faced by the Community of Latin-American and Caribbean States (Celac), it becomes clear that almost the only international forum in which to discuss regional or sub-regional problems will be the Organisation of American States (OEA), which, as we know all too well, is dominated by the United States. We are heading back towards the old imperial ‘interamericanism’.
Who benefits when regional integration is undermined?
The United States and the right-wing governments currently in power in the region, which are competing to be the USA’s favourite, and which prioritise globalisation on an individual level over regional mechanisms, thereby remaining on the sidelines of the region’s future. Once again it is apparent that the elites prefer a direct connection to the United States over regional integration.
Besides the freedom of movement agreement that allows travel within USAN nations with only an ID card, what other integrationist achievements could be lost if the organisation fails?
There are many. The first is the creation of security measures in the region. Today’s South America does not have institutions capable of coordinating a response to the situation. The Andean Community does not work, neither does Mercosur, and USAN is in crisis.
Other aspects are physical integration projects and those that aim to coordinate, as USAN initially tried to do, a joint position in relation to foreign investment, exploitation and the price of raw materials. Or to promote South American citizenship, especially important given the current context of Venezuelan migration.
Will the Peruvian government also withdraw from USAN?
I believe that Peru will eventually withdraw from USAN. It will follow the route taken by Colombia, which is none other than the route marked out by the so-called Lima Group at the last Summit of the Americas, held in Lima, and which, in my opinion, is just another US instrument designed to maintain its hegemony and divide other countries.
Today history is repeating itself: the elites are choosing the interests of the United States over those of the region, which is to say its peoples. So far this has been the norm in the region, despite the endeavours of the progressives in recent years.
Is the Pacific Alliance (a commercial group) an alternative to Latin-American integration? What are its limits?
It is not an alternative. While the Pacific Alliance promotes the free transit of goods and capital, it does not promote the fundamental aspect of integration, which is to bring together the countries and peoples of the region.
It is one thing for us to globalise in a subordinate manner, and with a narrow margin for error. It is quite another to participate in globalisation as a politically, economically and culturally integrated region. The global market does not create regional identities. Regional integration does. But today we are further than ever from achieving that objective. (PL)
(Translated by Kit Sedgwick) – Photos: Pixabay