Historical Perspectives …

Found on countercurrent.org: Historical Perspectives On Latin American And East Asian Regional Development, By Noam Chomsky, 26 December, 2006.

There was a meeting on the weekend of December 9-10 in Cochabamba in Bolivia of major South American leaders. It was a very important meeting. One index of its importance is that it was unreported, virtually unreported apart from the wire services. So every editor knew about it. Since I suspect you didn’t read that wire service report, I’ll read a few things from it to indicate why it was so important.

The South American leaders agreed to create a high-level commission to study the idea of forming a continent-wide community similar to the European Union. This is the presidents and envoys of major nations, and there was the two-day summit of what’s called the South American Community of Nations, hosted by Evo Morales in Cochabamba, the president of Bolivia. The leaders agreed to form a study group to look at the possibility of creating a continent-wide union and even a South American parliament.

The result, according to the AP report, left fiery Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, long an agitator for the region, taking a greater role on the world stage, pleased, but impatient. It goes on to say that the discussion over South American unity will continue later this month, when MERCOSUR, the South American trading bloc, has its regular meeting that will include leaders from Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Paraguay and Uruguay.

There is one – has been one point of hostility in South America. That’s Peru, Venezuela. But the article points out that Chavez and Peruvian President Alan Garcia took advantage of the summit to bury the hatchet, after having exchanged insults earlier in the year. And that is the only real conflict in South America at this time. So that seems to have been smoothed over.

The new Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa proposed a land and river trade route linking the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest to Ecuador’s Pacific Coast, suggesting that for South America, it could be kind of like an alternative to the Panama Canal.

Chavez and Morales celebrated a new joint project, the gas separation plant in Bolivia’s gas-rich region. It’s a joint venture with Petrovesa (PDVSA, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA. Pronounced “pedevesa”), the Venezuelan oil company, and the Bolivian state energy company. And it continues. Venezuela is the only Latin American member of OPEC and has by far the largest proven oil reserves outside the Middle East, by some measures maybe even comparable to Saudi Arabia.

There were also contributions, constructive, interesting contributions by Lula da Silva, Brazil’s president, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, and others. All of this is extremely important.

This is the first time since the Spanish conquests, 500 years, that there have been real moves toward integration in South America. The countries have been very separated from one another. And integration is going to be a prerequisite for authentic independence. There have been attempts at independence, but they’ve been crushed, often very violently, partly because of lack of regional support. Because there was very little regional cooperation, they could be picked off one by one. (Read the rest of this long article on countercurrents).

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