Hemispheric leaders gathered in Cartagena, Colombia this past weekend for the Summit of the Americas. From the onset, it seems one thing was made perfectly clear; the flock no longer fears the wolf.
The “wolf” helped in the deposing of democratically elected leaders in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Grenada, Nicaragua, Panama and El-Salvador through a coup or CIA/military intervention.
Decades of influence and meddling on the part of the United States left many Latin American countries as poor, failed states; a consequence of propping up puppet dictators across a continent.
The failed coup attempt in Venezuela back in 2002 to overthrow President Hugo Chavez marked the last known attempt by the United States to undermine the will of a foreign populace. Consequently, it also signalled a decade of growth for the country and the whole of South America, especially Brazil.
Latin America is emerging as a respectable and viable destination for foreign investment. Brazil is now the world’s 6th largest economy. Argentina, Columbia, Peru and Venezuela have all weathered the global economic downturn with relative ease and are growing at a significant rate.
This year’s Summit of the Americas reflected those changes on the ground and focused more on the increasing isolated policies of Canada and the United States; the ongoing exclusion of Cuba from the Summit and the failed war on drugs.
Cuba’s membership in the Organization of American States (OAS) was suspended fifty years ago. Canada and the United States are the only counties in the OAS who don’t support Cuba having a seat at the table.
“The isolation, the embargo, the indifference, the looking the other way, don’t work,” Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian President said. “This path is no longer acceptable in today’s world. It’s an anachronism that keeps us anchored in a Cold-War era that was overcome decades ago.”
The war on drugs is a huge deal to Latin American countries. The US policy of prohibition has brought enormous suffering to the people of those countries and has cost the lives of tens of thousands; it has done nothing to stem the flow of drugs.
The U.S. is the biggest importer of Latin American drugs and is not only the biggest exporter of their own prohibition policy, but the United States is also the biggest exporter of armaments the gangs and police use to fight the war.
A growing number of OAS countries are now in favour of decriminalizing or legalizing illicit drugs in order to curtail the violence that comes with the illegal drug trade. Stephen Harper and Barack Obama have both shown no interest is reviewing their drug policies. In fact, Harper refuses to discus the matter altogether.
Two years ago, members of the OAS created the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and it is essentially the OAS without the membership of Canada or the United States. While some member countries differ on its overall purpose, it is a further indication that the influence of the United States is weakening.
If Canada and the U.S. wish to participate in the affairs of South and Central American countries in the future and share in their economic success, it looks as if they’ll finally have learn how to speak their language, and I don’t mean Spanish.