Opinion, by Michael Royster
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – President Dilma has just returned from Caracas, where she and representatives of 32 other countries located south of the Rio Grande signed into effect yet another international organization whose principal purpose is to combat the Monroe Doctrine – CELAC, or the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States.
CELAC’s creation, if not its silly-sounding acronym, was proposed at a 2010 meeting of the Rio Group, yet another amorphous international grouping of countries in our hemisphere.
At the time, the usual left leaning luminaries, led by Hugo Chavez, hailed the idea of a group to act as a clone of the Organization of American States (OAS) which was set up in 1948 by the ‘Yanqui Imperialists’ to ensure domination of their backyard. Therefore, CELAC excludes both the U.S. and Canada, but includes Cuba.
This is not the first group of its ilk. In 2008, the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) sprang into being, purportedly a customs union joining the Andean Pact and Mercosur. Formed for political and economic purposes, UNASUR also has a Defense Council.
“Defense against what?” you ask, and “Against the U.S.” the Curmudgeon answers. UNASUR is against the creation of American military bases in South America, it’s against the creation of the U.S. Fourth Fleet, whose purview is South American waters, it’s against the boycott of Cuba—and it’s in favor of turning the Falklands into the Malvinas.
CELAC has yet to draw up statutes saying what it will do and how it will do it, but it has at least chosen a headquarters location—Costa Rica, starting in 2014. In this, at least, CELAC has improved upon UNASUR, which designated Quito Ecuador as its headquarters location, Cochabamba Bolivia as the site of the Latin American Parliament and Caracas Venezuela as the seat of the Bank of the South. In other words, three guaranteed anti-yanqui locations.
CELAC’s choice of Costa Rica, which enjoys excellent relations with the U.S., shows a less ideological approach to these questions, and it has carefully managed to pair leftists with rightists — Chavez is co-chair of the charter committee, along with Chile’s conservative President Piñera. Similarly, Chile will be next year’s pro-tempore lead country, Cuba will follow in 2013 and Costa Rica will inherit the mantle in 2014.
The Curmudgeon knows what Chavez does not: namely that the Monroe Doctrine fell terminally ill fifty years ago at the Bay of Pigs debacle and been lying dead in the water ever since. The Curmudgeon also knows that in order for the Monroe Doctrine to subsist there must be valid reasons for it, and the fact is that Latin America today is still not as important to the U.S., either politically or economically, as Europe or Asia. Perhaps it should be.
Will anything come of this new grouping, save a way to give diplomats and politicians from 33 Latin American countries a chance to get a cushy new job in a nice safe little town where people speak Spanish?
No one knows for sure, just as no one knows for sure how the entity will be financed. The only guarantee is that the U.S. will not be financing it.
Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, moved here thirty-plus years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)