I found this excellent article from Argentina so insightfull that I had to translate it for all.
Politically, a failure for all by Joaquin Morales Sola en La Nacion (Argentina).
If democracy is an arithmetic of
majorities and minorities even if, from the start, it is not only that, we have
to agree that the US took almost all of the Americas in Mar del Plata, that
Venezuela remains as an isolated “mono” block and that Mercosur has the size of
a small neighborhood party.
The extreme ideology of both sides (in favor and against
ALCA) and certain diplomatic ineptitude managed to give George W. Bush an international
victory, which he had not achieved in a long time, after a number of defeats in
Instead, if Mar del Plata is observed from a political point
of view, the failure belongs to all of us, including the White House, that was
absent for too long from the rest of America. A document split into two is
certainly a very poor result.
Kirchner had promised to be a kind and aseptic host of the
summit. He would carry with him the success or the failure of the meeting. There
was, in the end, more of the latter than the former, despite the effort to exhibit
a better result. But he changed course in the middle and lost his neutrality in
the opening speech. Like a textbook Argentinean (which is what he is), he
overdid the contemplation of his own navel. He wasted a large part of the
speech, as the owner of the home court, with talking about the urgencies of Argentina and
his misadventures with the FMI. He could have, instead, placed his eyes on the common
conflicts of Latin America. It is the zone of
the planet with the biggest social inequality. It registered, in the last few
years, advances and reversals, both in the economy as well as the quality of
its democracy. And there are different concepts and alternatives for the region
to change the state of things. A consensual piece is what was expected from a
Perhaps he did not like that Bush avoided to frontally
commit his position with respect to the FMI; that backing was Kichner’s obsession
up to the point he shook Bush’s hand. Perhaps he liked less that the Chief of
the White House made his the proposals of others foreign leaders and of many
investors about the need for legal protection and clear rules of the game in
the country. And he was certainly petrified with stupor that Bush expressed to
reporters the need to fight against corruption. That word is just not mentioned
in Kirchner’s Argentina.
But even from before then, things were not looking good. There
were thirty countries, with differences in nuances and plans, in favor of a
free trade agreement for the hemisphere. Four others established intransigent positions
and one was keeping vigil over a corpse which is not dead. The addition and
subtraction pour off a correlation of forces that looks too much like a defeat
for the minority.
There was a lack of diplomacy, even if the argument that
conditions for integration have to be analyzed carefully is reasonable. There
are no identical situations in Latin America.
But watching over the content does not mean you withdraw from the indispensable
dialogue, which is what has not happened in the last few years. Mercosur fell
sleep with its convictions and Washington
with theirs. Despite all, efficient diplomacy always has a formula to dress up its
divergences. Those possible diagonals were what was missing in Mar del Plata. Brazil also suffered a serious
misstep; its efforts to create a South American community of Nations was reduced
to a bunch of photo opportunities. With Bush sitting at the table, that project
turned into air particles. Except the four nations of Mercosur, where the
natural leadership of Brazil
is present, the rest were all just closer to Washington.
Surely there was no political adhesion to Bush on the part of
the majority of the Latin American leaders, but a different vision to the
solution of their national problems. Why not respect them? Why not find the
words that would comprise the interest of some and the others?
is a case apart, from the beginning. But, what is left of the Bolivarian ambitions
of Hugo Chavez when his speech only penetrates a club of excited militants and
no other country in the region is ready to follow him? The only thing left is
his oil and his petrodollars. Without them, Chavez would be less insignificant from
what he already is in Latin America.
Kirchner and Lula will no longer be able to cover up for him
without conditions for much longer; they run the risk of catching the isolation
of the Venezuela
one. Containing Chavez, which was promised by Kirchner, did not work in Mar del Plata: the
populist Venezuelan leader shouted and offended without measure or limit, very
close to the correct and classical Presidents.
Is Mercosur one? Apparently it is. But appearances do not
show everything. There is in Uruguay
a sort of tiredness because of the eternal fights between Brazilians and Argentineans
within Mercosur. On top of that-one has to say it-Tabare Vazquez disappointed both
Brasilia and Buenos Aires with his airs of independence. And
Paraguay established its own
relationship with Washington,
especially in matter of Defense.
In Mar del Plata,
there was a deep fight, which did not compromise Kirchner or Bush. It was staged
by Mexico and Brazil, the two most powerful countries in Latin America. Mexico
had, it needs to be said, more echo than Brazil among Latin American
Presidents. Argentina did
not treat Mexico
well, a country with which it has important trade agreements, which are
essential for its economy. It is true that Kirchner could not offer to have bilateral
meetings with more than 30 Presidents, but Mexico
is not part of the bunch, it is the first economy of Latin
America. Kirchner found time to meet alone, once again, with Chavez,
why not to listen to Vicente Fox?
Fox asked more than a year ago, in the Argentinean city of Iguaçu, its incorporation
to Mercosur. Nobody replied anything to him, ever. In that extended Mercosur
meeting, Fox saw first the incorporation of Venezuela to the commercial alliance,
proposed by Lula. Venezuela
will be, in December, a full member of Mercosur. Fox complained, from the
initial discussions of the Mar del
Plata meeting, about the need for regional attention
for the problem of migrations, which is a priority of his Government. They did
not even devote one minute to the matter.
It also happens to be a prejudice without foundation to
suppose that Fox and Chile’s
Lagos act as spokesmen for Washington. Fox and Lagos
gave Bush a notable defeat in the Security Council when Washington tried to give the Iraqi war international
coverage. They have been more firm, when push comes to shove, than the rhetoric
of Kirchner or than the verbal incontinence of Chavez.
The permanent equilibrium between ideology, history and
practice led the main leaders of Mar Del Plata
to ignore the gravest of all the things that have recently happened in Latin
America: the inexplicable decision by Peruvian President Toledo to extend its
sovereignty of his country over the sea, which directly affects the security of
You don’t do that to Chile
without any consequences. Toledo, with his
popularity indices rubbing the bottom of measures, imitated Gaitieri when he
grabbed the Falkland Islands to give oxygen to
his already unpopular dictatorship. The crisis between Chile and Peru places at
risk peace in Spanish speaking America and block any solution of a way out to
the sea for Bolivia , which Jose Maria Insulza had been working on, first from
Chile and now from the OAS. Insulza could ask for help from another intelligent
head in Latin America, Enrique Iglesias, now executive
secretary of Iberoamerican summits.
could be the solution to many Latin American problems, because it has energy
reserves in a region starving for energy. But it could also show, if its destabilization
or its secession were to happen, the tragic specter of broken peace in the
southern part of America.
Argentinean diplomacy has lots to do, if it abandoned its comfortable position
of doing nothing, in Bolivia,
in Peru and in Chile
To do that, Argentinean foreign policy has to stop looking at its navel. The world
is neither a geographical error nor a geographical excess, and Latin America lacks solutions. It does lack indeed
leaders of the stature of Insulza and of Iglesias, ready to accept that it is
not the same thing to put things in their place than to recognize the place for