Today in Latin America, Andes Pact

After a ten day hiatus, I am back.

Andean Community of Nations

Andean Community of Nations

Today marks 40 years since the Andes Pact was signed by Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru. It would remain this way until 1996, when it changed its name to the Andean Community of Nations (Comunidad Andina, CAN), encompassing a much larger chunk of the Hemispheric landscape.

The Andes Pact was somewhat courageous as well as predictable given its time. It is at once neoliberal while, given the relative number of years before neoliberalism brief triumph over the continent, at the same time defiant of the protectionist sentiments and Washington manipulation of countries against one another. For example, the freedom of movement and goods has been a double-edged sword for much of South America’s recent history – both were spearheaded by the Andes Pact.

In the end, It wasn’t neoliberal enough for Pinochet, who removed Chile from the pact in 1976. Venezuela became a member in 1973, only to abdicate from the movement in 2006 after Chavez called the pact “dead” because of Colombia and Peru’s insistence on free trade agreements with the US. By 1991, an economic pact involving Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina and Brazil formed, the Mercosur, offered a second independent trade area. Venezuela quickly joined after leaving in 2006; Chile had joined as an associate member in 1976.

Aside from just pacts, these two organizations signaled a shift that is becoming ever more apparent – it is breaking away from Washington, slowly but surely. CAN and Mercosur both integrate with one another, making the full members (the original members) of one, associate members of the other. But, fundamentally, these association create an arena, which when sanctified, can become a positive force for economic justice (not the case in CAN’s first, oh, thirty or so years) and has made policies independently. Mercosur, who founded a Parliament in 2004, recruit members to discuss inter-American policies openly, without confrontations of public violence or threats.

Union of South American States

Union of South American States

Panamericanism can be seen as a positive thing – one has to wonder with Bolivar would think. Sure, the Union of South American Nations is positive and the hopeful integration of both pacts into one large market seems closer than ever. Trade done correctly, if it can be achieved, will alleviate the problems the US has been “trying” to end since the 1960s from the top down. This scenario is still “top-down,” but from a much lower ceiling. It will, of course, be the goals of social and political groups to exert pressure on their leaders and members of these parliaments as they must, for the vitality of South America, speak through the people and not the economically powerful.

Along with Mercosur, the Andean Community of Nations show at once the integrated regional economic outposts of South America as well as the propensity to fall back upon national boundaries and old antagonisms. Both organizations have basically incorporated the entirety of South America without making it official (The Union of South America is still only an idea on a piece of paper, the jaws are to come if it is something truly desired). Regardless, the US is not a part of the the equation and that is positive.

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~ by Daniel on March 25, 2009.

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