After the failure of the Lima Group, Latin American right-wing former presidents created a new group to continue interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, such as attempting to overthrow the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. This new Lima Group is named Liberty and Democracy Group, which includes the former presidents Iván Duque of Colombia, Mauricio Macri of Argentina, Jorge Quiroga of Bolivia, Guillermo Lasso of Ecuador, and Mario Abdo Benítez of Paraguay. The idea for creating this Lima Group 2.0 came from the late Sebastián Piñera, former president of Chile.
Between December 5-7, 2023, in San Antonio, Texas military planners from the United States, Canada, Barbados, and other CARICOM entities met to make plans for Tradewinds ’24. There, it was determined that the 39th iteration of Exercise Tradewinds (EXTW24) would take place, at least in the first phase, in Barbados. Although Exercise Tradewinds “began” in 1984, EXTW24 will only mark the 39th iteration of these exercises versus the 40th iteration, given that no exercise was held in 2020 given the (ongoing) global COVID-19 pandemic. Between January 29, 2024, and February 2, 2024 military planners met again, this time at the Hilton Resort in Barbados, to survey the terrain for EXTW24.
Upon assuming the US presidency, Joe Biden asserted in his first major foreign policy address, “America is back!” For Latin America and the Caribbean, this has meant an “aggressive expansion” of the US military in the region. In just the last year, US Marines and special forces landed in Peru in May 2023, brought in by the unelected rightwing government to address internal unrest. In October, the US got the UN Security Council to approve the military occupation of Haiti using proxy troops from Kenya. Also in October, the rightwing government of Ecuador resorted to deploying US troops to deal with their domestic insecurities.
While the Monroe Doctrine ingenuously claimed to protect hemispheric independence from foreign interference, HR 943 charges that the policy has, in fact, been used as a “mandate” to give the US license to interfere in the internal affairs of other states to promote its own narrow interests. The resolution forcefully begins with noting the “massive, forced displacement and genocide of Native peoples” by the North American colonialists. The resolution goes on to enumerate the further progression of the US imperium on the hemisphere. Back in the 1840s, the US took 55% of Mexico.
On Christmas Eve, a caravan of close to 10,000 migrants from dozens of nationalities began its journey from Mexico’s southern border northward up the American continent. It is possibly the largest this year and comes just days before a high-level U.S. delegation visits Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to discuss new measures to contain migration in the region. Latin American and Caribbean nationals who come from more than 20 countries, left last week from Tapachula, a city in the state of Chiapas that borders Guatemala. The first stop was Álvaro Obregón, where they spent a complex Christmas between hardships and deprivation.
The UN General Assembly proclaimed December 18 International Migrants Day in 2000. It took into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world. It aimed to further the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. The Convention recognizes the human rights of migrant workers and promotes their access to justice as well as to humane and lawful working and living conditions. It provides guidance on the elaboration of national migration policies and for international cooperation based on respect for human rights and the rule of law.
December 2 marked the 200th anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine, which proclaimed US dominion over Latin America and the Caribbean. Left-leaning governments in the hemisphere have had to contest a decadent but still dominant USA. Challenges in the past year include a world economic slowdown, a continuing drug plague, and a more aggressive hegemon reacting to a more volatile and disputed world order. The progressive regional current, the so-called Pink Tide, slackened in 2023 compared to the rising tide of 2022, which had been buoyed by big wins in Colombia and Brazil.
The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, with a few notable exceptions, have been critical of Israel’s ongoing campaign of genocide in Gaza. Perhaps more than any other region, they have expressed their solidarity with Palestine. Most recognize that the partnership between US imperialism and Israeli Zionism applies not only to Palestine, but also to Israel’s role as attendant to US domination in this hemisphere. President Gabriel Boric of Chile condemned Israeli’s attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. The largest Palestinian population outside of the Middle East (more properly West Asia) resides in Chile. Belize and Peru, likewise, joined the denunciation of Israel.
December 2, 2023 marked two hundred years since U.S. President James Monroe’s address to Congress, which came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine. It has become a household name for U.S. foreign policy over the past several centuries and will likely continue to be used indefinitely into the future. Although it was periodically supplemented by other doctrines and concepts. However, it was under James Monroe when it was categorically stated “America for the Americans”, and the European powers had no business there, even though they had overseas possessions.
On December 3, 2023, a large number of registered voters in Venezuela voted in a referendum over the Essequibo region that is disputed with neighboring Guyana. Nearly all those who voted answered yes to the five questions. These questions asked the Venezuelan people to affirm the sovereignty of their country over Essequibo. “Today,” said Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, “there are no winners or losers.” The only winner, he said, is Venezuela’s sovereignty. The principal loser, Maduro said, is ExxonMobil. In 2022, ExxonMobil made a profit of $55.7 billion, making it one of the world’s richest and most powerful oil companies.
It was 200 years ago that President James Monroe delivered a speech that would later become the framework for the Monroe Doctrine. Activists around the world are now trying to bury the document. Some of those activists met on UVA Grounds Saturday, December 2, for a mock funeral service to put the doctrine and its ideals to rest. “This idea that somebody doing something the U.S. government doesn’t like thousands of miles away is a threat to U.S safety? That means you can go and attack Iraq and call it defensive, and this has been done for 200 years,” World Beyond War Director David Swanson said.
Every day since 7 October has felt like an International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, with hundreds of thousands gathering in Istanbul, a million in Jakarta, and then yet another million across Africa and Latin America to demand an end to the brutal attack being carried out by Israel (with the collusion of the United States). It is impossible to keep up with the scale and frequency of the protests, which are in turn pushing political parties and governments to clarify their stances on Israel’s attack on Palestine. These mass demonstrations have generated three kinds of outcomes.
As anger increases in the United States, Canada, and Europe over their leaders’ refusal to take a firm stand against the ongoing Israeli atrocities against Gaza, it is Latin America that is leading the way. On October 31, Bolivia announced that it was severing diplomatic relations with Israel — the first country in the Americas to do so since the beginning of the “al-Aqsa Flood” some three weeks before. In a statement, the nation’s foreign ministry explained that this was “in repudiation and condemnation of the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive occurring in the Gaza Strip, which threatens international peace and security.” Announcing the decision before the General Assembly of the United Nations, its spokesperson added that Israel is a state “that is disrespectful of lives, of peoples, of international and humanitarian law.”
One of the curiosities of our time is that the far right is quite comfortable with the established institutions of liberal democracy. There are instances here and there of disgruntled political leaders who refuse to accept their defeat at the ballot box (such as Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro) and then call upon their supporters to take extra-parliamentary action (as on 6 January 2021 in the United States and, in a farcical repetition, on 8 January 2023 in Brazil). But, by and large, the far right knows that it can attain what it wants through the institutions of liberal democracy, which are not hostile to its programmes.
The headline is provocative: “The Kremlin’s Efforts to Covertly Spread Disinformation in Latin America.” This was a statement on the US State Department website, posted on November 7, 2023. The United States government accused two companies—Social Design Agency and Structura National Technologies—of being the main agents of what it alleged is Russian-backed disinformation. The statement named the heads of both of the firms, Ilya Gambashidze of Social Design Agency and Nikolay Tupkin of Structura. On July 28, 2023, the European Union sanctioned several Russian individuals and firms, including SDA and Structura.