Laura Richardson, the Chief of the U.S. Southern Command, which oversees military operations in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean, spoke about the importance of Latin America’s resources for U.S. foreign policy in an interview with the U.S. think tank Atlantic Council. “Why is this region important?” Richardson asked. “With all its rich resources and rare earth elements, there is the lithium triangle, which today is necessary for technology. Sixty percent of the world’s lithium is found in the lithium triangle: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile.” She also pointed out that “the largest oil reserves, including light and sweet crude, [were] discovered off Guyana more than a year ago.” The general also mentioned Venezuela’s rich oil, copper, and gold resources. She highlighted the importance of the Amazon as “the lungs of the world,” and added that “we have 31 percent of the world’s fresh water in this region.”
Founded in 2011, CELAC, or the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, is a multilateral group of 33 countries from across the Western Hemisphere that excludes Canada and the United States It was created to be an alternative forum for Latin American countries. Inaugural leaders, such as Venezuela’s Hugo Chávez, envisioned the group as a counterweight to the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS), which they viewed as dominated by the United States. CELAC, unlike the OAS, allows Cuba to be a member. Its stated goals are to promote regional integration and cooperation. CELAC represents 600 million people. The Seventh Summit of CELAC leaders was held Tuesday, January 24 in Buenos Aires hosted by CELAC President Pro-Tempore Alberto Fernandez, current President of Argentina.
On January 24, the 7th Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) will be held in Buenos Aires, attended by around 15 presidents of the region, including Lula da Silva, and chaired by the host Alberto Fernández. It is obvious how important it is for Argentina’s government that the CELAC Summit be successful, with the delicate internal political situation that the country is going through, with a presidential election on October 22. That the summit and the transfer of the pro tempore presidency (to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, an ALBA member country) go well would help improve the image of Argentina throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. However, the Latin American right wing, hand in hand with the US State Department and its intelligence agencies, are conspiring to prevent the development of CELAC, strengthened recently with the addition of the progressive governments of presidents Gustavo Petro in Colombia, Gabriel Boric in Chile, and Xiomara Castro in Honduras—a country that will soon join ALBA.
On Tuesday, 33 countries of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) signed the "Buenos Aires Declaration," through which they pledged to deepen integration, climate action, democratic institutions, and multilateralism. The 111-point agreement highlights the importance of consolidating Latin America as a zone of peace, advancing food security, and deepening cooperation in health. At the close of the event, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves, highlighted the efforts that Argentina and Mexico made to consolidate CELAC in 2022. "We will work for peace, social justice, prosperity, and security for all," he said upon receiving the CELAC pro tempore presidency.
Coup attempts have gone viral this winter season in Latin America. The contagion spread first to Argentina, then Peru, and finally Brazil on January 8. In addition, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua continue to suffer from long-term US regime-change efforts. Coverage of this political pandemic by the US liberal press (i.e., the preponderance of mainstream media that endorse a Democrat for the presidency) reflects politically motivated agendas. Its spin on Brazil in particular reflects a trend among Democrats to greater acceptance of the security state. Current vice-president and former president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, was the leading contender on the left for the 2023 elections. But on December 6, she was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption and barred from running for office. Although she is appealing what is considered a “lawfare” frameup, the right is anticipating a comeback in the upcoming October 2023 presidential election.
2023 marks the 200th anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine. This imperial fiat arrogates to the US the unilateral authority to intervene in the affairs of sovereign states in the Western Hemisphere and to exclude any other power from meddling in what is viewed as Washington’s backyard. Two centuries later, the doctrine faces a fragile future. Going into the new year, the neoliberal model for regional development has been discredited in Latin America and the Caribbean The socialist model is under siege, and the social-democratic model is encountering unfavorable conditions. Paradoxically, the very problems that the progressive movements protested against, which brought them into power, now have become theirs to solve, once in power and in a time of mounting economic distress.
Continuing the wave of progressive wins in 2021, Latin America saw two new critical electoral victories: Gustavo Petro in Colombia and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil. When President Biden’s June Summit of the Americas excluded Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, several Latin American leaders declined to attend, while others used the opportunity to push the United States to respect the sovereignty of the countries in the region.
The International Labour Organisation’s Global Wage Report 2022–23 tracks the horrendous collapse of real wages for billions of people around the planet. The gaping distance between the incomes and wealth of 99% of the world’s population from the incomes and wealth of the billionaires and near-trillionaires who make up the richest 1% is appalling. During the pandemic, when most of the world has experienced a dramatic loss in their livelihoods, the ten richest men in the world have doubled their fortunes. This extreme wealth inequality, now entirely normal in our world, has produced immense and dangerous social consequences. If you take a walk in any city on the planet, not just in the poorer nations, you will find larger and larger clusters of housing that are congested with destitution.
An encore broadcast with journalist, author, activist and educator Roberto Alvarenga Lovato. Roberto Lovato is the author of Unforgetting (Harper Collins), a “groundbreaking” memoir the New York Times picked as an “Editor’s Choice.” Newsweek listed Lovato’s memoir as a “must read” 2020 book which the Los Angeles Times listed as one of its 20 Best Books of 2020. Unforgetting was also shortlisted for the 2022 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. Lovato, a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is also a journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston Globe, Guernica, Le Monde Diplomatique, La Opinion, Der Spiegel and other national and international media outlets.
More than a dozen countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have condemned the coup in Peru and backed democratically elected President Pedro Castillo. Meanwhile, the US government has staunchly supported the coup regime, which has suspended civil liberties, imprisoned Castillo for 18 months without trial, and unleashed extreme violence on Peruvian protesters, killing dozens and wounding hundreds. On the other side, Peru’s unelected coup regime has the strong support of the United States and Canada, as well as Brazil’s far-right Jair Bolsonaro administration and the right-wing governments in Ecuador, Uruguay, and Costa Rica. Chile, led by liberal President Gabriel Boric, is the only country with an ostensibly left-of-center government that has joined the US and the region’s right wing in backing the coup in Peru.
The Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), the left-wing economic and political bloc uniting countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, has forcefully opposed the coup d’etat in Peru and expressed its support for the country’s democratically elected President Pedro Castillo. ALBA member states released a joint declaration stating that they “reject the political trap created by the right-wing forces of that country against the Constitutional President Pedro Castillo, forcing him to take measures that were later used by his adversaries in parliament to oust him from office.” The alliance condemned the violent “repression by the law enforcement agencies against the Peruvian people who are defending a government democratically elected at the polls.”
On December 7, 2022, Pedro Castillo sat in his office on what would be the last day of his presidency of Peru. His lawyers went over spreadsheets that showed Castillo would triumph over a motion in Congress to remove him. This was going to be the third time that Castillo faced a challenge from the Congress, but his lawyers and advisers—including former Prime Minister Anibal Torres—told him that he held an advantage over the Congress in opinion polls (his approval rating had risen to 31 percent, while that of the Congress was just about 10 percent). Castillo had been under immense pressure for the past year from an oligarchy that disliked this former teacher. In a surprise move, he announced to the press on December 7 that he was going to “temporarily dissolve the Congress” and “[establish] an exceptional emergency government.”
The governments of Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, and Bolivia released a joint statement supporting Peru’s democratically elected President Pedro Castillo, saying he is the victim of “anti-democratic harassment.” Castillo was overthrown in a coup d’etat on December 7, led by the infamously corrupt right-wing opposition that controls Peru’s unicameral congress, which has an approval rating of between 7% and 11%. The US-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) and State Department have openly supported the coup, backing unelected leader Dina Boluarte, who declared herself president in collaboration with the congress. Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia, and Colombia wrote that they “express their profound concern for the recent events that resulted in the removal and detention of José Pedro Castillo Terrones, president of the Republic of Peru.”
December 3, 2023 will mark the 200th anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine. It will also mark its obsolescence in the face of popular resistance and the Pink Tide of progressive governments in Latin America that have been elected over the past two and a half decades. The prevailing ideology of these left and left of center movements rejects the “Washington Consensus” and opts for a new consensus based on the decolonization of the political, economic, social and cultural spheres. This consensus is accompanied by encounters and conferences that advance liberatory traditions developed since the 1960’s as well as those deeply rooted in indigenous cultures. It is Washington’s failure to respect and adjust to this political and ideological process of transformation that precludes, at this time, a constructive and cooperative U.S. foreign policy towards the region.
Latin America’s leftist presidents are leading the campaign to free Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks journalist has the support of Brazil’s Lula da Silva, Mexico’s Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Argentina’s Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, Colombia’s Gustavo Petro, Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, Bolivia’s Evo Morales, and Honduras’ Manuel Zelaya. A movement is growing in Latin America to demand the freedom of political prisoner Julian Assange, the Australian journalist persecuted by the United States for his work exposing its war crimes. Most of the major leftist leaders in Latin America have called for Assange to be released from the maximum-security British prison where he has been held since 2019 and subjected to torture.