Last year marked a change in Latin America. An increasing number of countries of the region seem to be determined to defend their interests despite the United States’ plans. José Miguel Insulza’s election as the head of the Organization of American States (OAS) against the candidate supported by the Bush Administration has clearly showed the decline of the American leadership in the continent. The United States has not only lost the control of the OAS, which usually backs its interests. It also failed in the 2005 Summit of the Americas for it could not convince participants of favouring a declaration aimed at defending its economic and political positions in the region. The failure was more evident because the Summit had been carefully planned to achieve the success of the United States.
During 2005, all different efforts aimed at exerting pressures and condemning the Venezuelan government failed as well. President George W. Bush was not capable of convincing other countries to back his plan to isolate President Hugo Chávez. The United States’ policy of direct intervention in the internal affairs of Colombia did not get the regional support either.
But, not everything is bad for the United States. Colombian Luis Alberto Moreno’s election as President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) was an American option, obviously. This means the bank will keep its orthodox neo-liberal policy. However, a clear distinction has emerged between Latin American countries favouring regional integration based on their own conditions and those defending hemispheric integration controlled by the United States.
Promoted by Brazil and, above all, supported by Argentina and Venezuela, the first plan of the group is the creation of a South American Community of Nations. The MERCOSUR countries try to defend their respective national interests and a more equitable international democratic order. They don’t want a confrontation. The second group –the countries that have a more direct relation with Washington- is divided into two tendencies. Some states like Colombia, Ecuador and Peru act on their own whereas other, especially from Central America and the Dominican Republic- act based on a regional perspective. They all follow the policy established by Mexico and, to a lesser degree, by Chile.
But it’s in the ideological field where differences are more evident. In fact, the whole region could be affected by the consequences of a confrontation between Venezuela and the United States, as well as by a possible victory of the Sandinista National Liberation Front in Nicaragua. For the United States, the possible creation of a triangle connecting Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua can only be seen as a direct threat to regional stability. Its immediate result would be putting Latin America in the dangerous position of leading the list of ghosts considered by Washington as threats to its security. The victory of the Movement to Socialism (MAS) can increase this fear.

Taipei Times (Taiwan)
Daily Times (Pakistan)

Latin America at a crossroads”, by Raúl Alfonsin, Daily Times, January 4, 2006 . _”Latin America at the crossroadsTaipei Times, January 4, 2006.