LATAM BREAKS AWAY FROM THE WEST

Twelve South American nations which in the last two years have formed one of the world’s potentially more powerful groupings, have issued warnings to Western nations that they intend to ramp down the world’s current status quo and no longer would tolerate political dictates from the West and multilateral agencies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) which boasts leaders like outgoing Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula DaSilva and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez met for a day in Caribbean trade bloc headquarters in Guyana last Friday and declared their intention to wean themselves from the West and run their own affairs as they see fit.

They made clear they no longer have the respect and fear of big nations like the United Kingdom and the Unites States, especially having watched how Washington and Europe have plunged into economic recession and have struggled to recover, even while still telling continental nations that withstood the global crisis how to run their affairs.

Lula said many leaders have had to endure the ignominy of being lectured to by “any third rate secretary” who sent them back to do their homework. For many on the continent, this is a thing of the past, he said.

“Today they don’t get to do that anymore; to give us the recipe, because they know that we are like them. Our difference is that we today have more sovereignty and self-determination than we had 10 years ago. When the crises are in their own countries they don’t know how to solve them,” he said.

He said Brazil, Latin America’s largest and the world’s No.8 performing economy, has created more than two million jobs between January and September, while neighboring states are doing the same.

Venezuela’s Chavez is UNASUR’s senior statesman but Lula is the one who appears to be the most highly regarded for his relentless determination to forge continental unity in the region. He demits office in just over a month.

“I will now hand my country to my comrade Dilma Rousseff,” he said. “We do not owe any money to the IMF. The IMF owes me $14 billion because we sold money to the IMF and almost $300 billion in hard currency reserves.”

The one-day meeting was highlighted by extensive discussions on the drafting of a democracy clause to be inserted in UNASUR’s founding treaty because of the Sept. 30 coup attempt in Ecuador.

Leaders said they agreed to insert the clause to quell the ambitions of any potential coup leaders in South America and to let them know their regimes will be fully ostracized, land and sea borders will be closed to them, economic sanctions will be imposed and expulsion will flow from groups like UNASUR.

“We are not going to allow any violation of constitutional order,” Guyana’s president and new UNASUR chairman, Bharat Jagdeo, sharing a head table with Ecuador’s Rafael Correa who barely survived the coup attempt, told reporters.

UNASUR has pledged to act on a call from Correa to set up a commission of inquiry to probe events that led up to the coup and to determine who the real players were.

“This clause imposes sanctions for any disruption of the democratic order. We hope not to have that problem in the region again,” Correa said. The protocol has “complete measures, no rhetoric. I think that is the greatest difference.”

The protocol also calls for air and sea blockades and a cut-off of energy supplies and services to the offending coup makers and nation by extension.

Jagdeo made it plain that he has been lobbying, albeit unsuccessfully, for CARICOM to enact a similar clause because the region was powerless to deal with the coup makers in Haiti when they overthrew Jean Bertrand Aristide in early 2004.

“The protocol gives us the tools to do things like that,” he said.

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