Thursday, April 19, 2007
South American Union Becoming a Reality
With the conclusion of the first South American Energy Summit, South American leaders surprised everyone with signing an agreement to established the UNASUR, Union of South American Nations. Ten of the twelve South American presidents attending the Energy Summit including Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Nestor Kirchner of Argentina, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Álvaro Uribe of Colombia, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Nestor Duarte of Paraguay, and the Prime Ministers of Guayana, Sam Hinds, and of Surinam, Gregory Rusland.
Only Peru and Uruguay decided to abstain from the measure, which actually provides details like the establishment of a headquarters in Quito, Ecuador and the election of an executive President to administer UNASUR meetings and issues, with the Protempore Secretariat located in Brasilia, Brazil. Looking a lot like a model of the European Union, composed of cross tangled treaties, UNASUR will house the regional agreements possibly including MERCOSUR, ALBA, OPPEGASUR, The Bank of the South, the Great Gas Pipeline of the South, the Trans-Caribbean Pipeline, and the Andean Community Bloc.
Latino Insurgent ANALYSIS:
This development pushes forward the 2004 Cuzco Declaration, which seemed stalled for a while, and outlined a road to developing a regional parliament, a common market and a common currency.
If South America can elect an executive president, a regional parliament will follow to balance the executive office. Once the Bank of the South is established, which Brazil has now joined with Venezuela, Bolivia, and Argentina, a common currency will be possible. The true next step will have to be the integration of the ALBA, MERCOSUR and Andean Community economic blocs. This common market will be necessary for a common currency to arise. The Suro???
There are problems to be overcome however. Cuba is a member of ALBA and by American decree under the Helms-Burton Act nations who trade openly with Cuba can face economic sanctions from the United States. In addition is Colombia's relationship and dependency with the United States who wields great influence in the country under the American program called "Plan Colombia". As a member of the Andean Community, Colombia could block integration if leaned upon by the United States. Panama, which did not take part in the Energy Summit will nevertheless play a crucial role as the bridge between the continents and the bridge between the oceans. However due to its importance to the United States, by which the US navy can move rapidly from the Atlantic to the Pacific and considered the single most important defensive bulwark of the United States, integration of Panama into UNASUR will be an objective for member nations and the primary reason for the United States to obstruct that objective.
Any trouble concerning the Panama Canal will however draw the attention of China and the European Union which could easily push for the waterway to be declared neutral and with it for Panama to remain outside of any and all trade blocs. Consequently, as UNASUR will present a challenge to American influence, the true tug of war will be among the the nations of Central America under CAFTA and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), in which the European Union has preference and the United States is often seen as an obstacle to progress. The competition for dominance however will swing with UNASUR, which will likely align itself more closely with the European Union than the United States. This shift will of course also benefit China, as the similar competition for Africa between the US and the EU is slowly delivering the region to Chinese influence.
Interestingly, African nations prefer their Chinese "uncle" due to the country's tradition against intervention and its apparent present untouchable trade position and monetary stability.
These are interesting times, don't you think.