Latin America – Key player in a multipolar world

Latin America may not have the military clout, but it has three major assets needed to challenge the United States: political will, economic resources, and a key strategic position as the U.S. “backyard”.

Nino Pagliccia

The main focus of world politics is still on U.S. president Donald Trump and it will continue to be for a while in part due to his outspoken (at times unpredictable) personality, but mostly because he does happen to have his finger on the nuclear, financial and political trigger of the Empire. That finger may well set off what have already been called “Trumpquakes”. [1][2]

Despite the fact that Trump has inherited the U.S. blueprint of the “new world order” and the growing need for a multipolar world, many analysts rightly attempt to assess the extent of the impact of the new Trump administration foreign policy. However, typically Latin America is barely visible on the geopolitical radar even when it is the closest to the epicentre of the potential financial and political “Trumpquakes”. We are already feeling the rumbles, at least on the political front. [3]

The Middle East is sadly taking centre stage as the world hot spot, and rightly so, but we cannot speak of a “new world order” and “multipolar world” without taking into account the extensive region of Latin America (19.2 million square kilometers, 620 million population) that is so close to the seat of world power.

Latin America may not have the military clout, but it has three major assets needed to challenge the U.S.: political will, economic resources, and a key strategic position as the U.S. “backyard”.

Political will. Venezuela has started an anti-imperialist political movement with the charismatic late former president Hugo Chavez at the beginning of this century with important political and trade alliances in Latin America. The aim has been self-determination and regional integration. The movement has suffered setbacks with the loss of progressive governments like Honduras, Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil to so called soft coups. [4] To this day Venezuela is resisting to the pressure on its sovereignty by the U.S. and has stepped up relations with Russia and China.

President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who has recognized the social notion of “plurality” for his country, has often stated his anti-imperialist political position in reference to the United States. Morales has invited Russia to join the G77 and the Bolivian Ambassador at the U.N. stated in 2014 that Russia and China could help to build “a multipolar world”. [5][6]

Mexico may be ripe to distance itself from its neighbour of the North following Trump’s intention to build a wall to keep Mexican migrants out. The foreseeable renegotiation of NAFTA has already prompted China to consider investing in the automobile sector in Mexico. Central American countries will not lag behind in finding new allies across the Atlantic and Pacific.

Economic resources: Latin America is still viewed as its  “backyard” by the U.S. (and increasingly by Canada) for its resources. Venezuela is at the top of the list for its oil resources, followed by Central America (with Canada’s mining exploitation), Ecuador and Bolivia. The U.S. has secured Colombia for a long time, Brazil has been a great loss recently with all its natural resources, and Argentina is increasingly looking at European countries as a market for its products.

Strategic position: Latin America’s geographical position bordering with the superpower has been historically a political disadvantage for the region, but at the same time it can be a key strategic asset if it is used in the context of a multipolar world.

Since WW2 the U.S. has been pushing its dominance further away from its borders for its often-claimed national security. Across the Atlantic it has military bases in Europe pushing to the borders with Russia, and across the Pacific it pretends to contain China and the DPRK with its military presence in Japan and South Korea. On the North, Canada does not present a threat.

However, the U.S. geopolitical Achilles’ heel is Latin America. That is partly why the U.S. expansionism drive has virtually claimed the region as its own since the beginning of the 20th century. Every U.S. administration has been “protective” of the region. Trump’s administration will be no different. Trump has already announced that during his campaign.

Trump’s threats to reverse the recent advances towards Cuba by the Obama administration follow strictly a political ideology that may be appealing to his domestic supporters, but the vigorous attempts to regime change in Venezuela have more a self-serving nature. As we write, there are reports that 34 U.S. lawmakers are requesting president Trump to step up pressure on the government of Venezuela with new sanctions. [7]

The survival of the Bolivarian movement cannot be left only to the international solidarity activists. Unless other U.S. opponents support it, the movement is in danger. The loss of Venezuela to the U.S. in Latin America cannot be allowed if a multipolar world is the goal, and if the aspiration is a truly new world order that is not U.S.-centred.

Russia and China may already be bringing their “negotiation” power closer to the U.S. borders. By doing so Latin America can be a key player by using its political will, abundant economic resources and strategic position as leverage to those ends.

[1] https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201611091047255659-trump-elected-president-geopolitical-nine-eleven/

[2] http://theduran.com/global-trumpquakes-shaking-world/

[3] http://peoplesvoice.ca/2016/09/14/is-a-u-s-sponsored-soft-coup-taking-place-in-venezuela/

[4] http://www.cubasolidarityincanada.ca/2017/02/08/a-dream-deferred-the-right-wing-attack-in-latin-america/ (Video presentation on the topic)

[5] http://www.telesurtv.net/news/Evo-Morales-invita-a-Rusia-a-integrarse-en-el-Grupo-de-los-77-20140615-0055.html

[6] http://www.telesurtv.net/news/Bolivia-afirma-que-Rusia-en-el-G77-ayudaria-a-erradicar-la-unipolaridad-20140623-0075.html

[7] http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/US-Lawmakers-Call-on-Trump-to-Impose-New-Sanctions-on-Venezuela-20170208-0024.html

 

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Nino Pagliccia

NINO PAGLICCIA has two Master’s Degrees from Stanford University and is a retired researcher on Canada-Cuba collaborative projects at the University of British Columbia. He has published many peer-reviewed journal articles and has contributed chapters to books on topics about Cuba, the Cuban healthcare system and solidarity. He has been a long-time activist and has organized groups to do voluntary work in Cuba for almost 15 years.

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