Augusto Zamora perceives three significant movements that are currently shaping Latin America: first is the newly cemented Peruvian relationship with Brazil, second is the reform that Evo Morales is carrying out in the Andean Community of Nations (CAN), and third is the possible resolution of Bolivia and Chile‘s age-old conflict over access to the ocean. If the left wins in the upcoming elections in Mexico, Ecuador and Nicaragua, and if Lula and Chavez are reelected in Brazil and Venezuela, Zamora believes that Latin America will enter into a period of change, unity, and solidarity.
Augusto Zamora R. is a professor of International Law and International Relations at the Autónoma University of Madrid. He served as a lawyer for the state of Nicaragua before the International Court of Justice from 1983 to 2001. He is a columnist for the newspaper El Mundo. His most recently published book is “Ridiculed Peace. The Peace Process in Central America” (Sepha Publishers, Madrid, 2006).
FOR ALAN GARCIA´S FIRST TRIP OUT OF PERU, as newly elected president, he visited Brazil. Evo Morales, meanwhile, called a reunion of the battered and suffering Andean Community of Nations (CAN) in order to revise its founding beliefs and save it from disintegration. The CAN has been verging upon collapse ever since Venezuela’s withdrawal this past April.
At the same time, a group of parliamentarians from Bolivia and Chile signed a document demonstrating their support of the Bolivian demand to have its own seaport in Chile.
While the Chilean officials were acting of their own accord with no actual government backing, the signed document still carries a great amount of weight, and caused the right in Chile to scream out in protest almost immediately. The Chilean conflict with Bolivia is still considered taboo throughout most of the country.
THREE MOVEMENTS FOR UNITY
What is happening in Latin America could very well be the beginning of a common drive for unity and agreement between even the most antagonistic visions of many of the countries.
Alan García’s visit to Lula has a double significance. On one hand, García was expressing publicly his support for Lula and his pragmatic leftist vision, distancing Peru from the hard-line that Venezuela and Bolivia have in opposition to the United States. Lula also has an excellent relationship with Hugo Chávez and may be useful to García as a link in order to persuade the Venezuelan President to agree to a regional consensus.
CONFLUENCE OF INTERESTS
Yet, even more important in García’s visit to Brazil are his economic motives. Peru serves as an excellent access point to the Pacific Ocean for Brazil, and Brazil, economically, is of great interest to Peru.
The confluence of the two countries’ economic interests is so great that forming a strong relationship is almost obligatory.
Their alliance can do nothing but help the movement for unity.
INTEGRATION WITH MERCOSUR
Evo Morales refuses to let the Andean Community of Nations die. His vision of the CAN goes beyond a simple alliance of businessmen devoted to enhancing the free markets, supported by Uribe and Toledo. Yet, despite Morales’ best efforts, much of the CAN’s destiny depends upon the decisions of President Alan García, and upon the results of the October 2006 elections in Ecuador.
One way of saving the CAN would be its possible integration into MERCOSUR, but this solution is at odds with the interests of the United States and its principal ally, Colombia.
INSPIRATION FROM CUBA AND VENEZUELA
The CAN’s summit took place on the 12th and 13th of June, with Evo Morales acting as President pro tempore for the struggling organization. His strategies appear to be an attempt to buy more time for the struggling organization, in anticipation of the Ecuadorian elections, and the associated decisions of Peru. As of now the CAN’s future remains uncertain.
Morales appears to be taking inspiration from the solidarity established between the governments of Venezuela and Cuba. In the final moments of the summit Morales gave a speech in which he clearly stated his hopes for the future of the Andean Community: The current crisis of the Andean Community of Nations is due to the fact that we have turned all of our relationships into business exchanges for profit and economic benefit. If we are going to save the CAN we must worry about the interests of the people before commercial interests. If we do not address our common social ills, the ills of the people, the CAN will fall apart.
OVERCOMING OLD CONFLICTS
Expectations for a resolution to the age-old Bolivian-Chilean conflict were high in Bolivia following the meeting of parliamentarians from both countries. The conflict is the longest standing of the entire continent, and by far one of the most important and difficult to overcome. Its persistence signifies an obstacle to any process of Latin American unity, and prevents the possibility of an alliance between the two countries. Fortunately, Chilean society is growing everyday more open to a solution to the controversy, and the government appears to be making moves towards resolving the one hundred year old conflict. If they are successful, a huge obstacle will be removed from the path towards Latin American solidarity.
CHANGES FOR UNITY
The movement towards continental unity has come alive again thanks to the resurgence of the left in Latin American governments. 2006 may well be remembered as a historic year in the history of Latin America.
If the left triumphs in the upcoming elections in Mexico, Ecuador, and Nicaragua, and if Lula and Chavez are reelected, Latin America may very well enter into a period of change, unity, and solidarity.
The next two hundred years could see the celebration of a second independence in Latin America.