Skip to main content

Argentina Breaks With Venezuela Over Free Trade And Middle East

(Nov. 24, 2007) Argentina's President Elect Cristina Kirchner distanced herself from the political agenda of Venezuela President Chávez on Monday by proposing a Mercosur-Israel free trade agreement (FTA) during her visit to Brazil. The proposal is a diplomatic counter punch to Venezuela's open support for Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the OPEC meeting in Saudi Arabia last week.

The proposal was greeted by Brazilian President Lula Da Silva and will be presented officially by Kirchner at the Mercosur reunion of heads of state in Montevideo, Uruguay in December. The announcement was also a signal that Chávez would not control the political agenda of Mercosur if Venezuela is accepted as a member, as seems increasingly probable after Brazil's Senate voted yes to Venezuela's petition to join the union. During the Senate debate it was noted that Chávez would do less damage inside the group than outside of it.

That the proposal was announced by Kirchner in Brazil and on her first visit as a future head of state signals a shift in Argentina's foreign policy. Until now Argentina closely backed Chávez's foreign policy because of the debt of gratitude it owed Venezuela for buying US$3.1 billion of Argentina's debt in 2006. However, Monday's announcement was a clear sign that Kirchner will support liberal economic policies over Chávez's brand of twenty-first century socialism, further isolating Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador within the South America community.

It now remains to be seen what effect the proposed FTA with Israel will have on the upcoming December reunion in Uruguay and whether Chávez will withdraw his country's bid for admission to Mercosur. Ironically, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa recently invited Venezuela back to the Andean Community (CAN) after it withdrew in 2006 in opposition to proposed FTA's between the U.S., Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador, in favor of the more "left-wing" Mercosur. It now seems that Chávez is rethinking this decision and will discuss Venezuela's possible return to the Andean Community at a meeting also to be held in December.

All of this shuffling between sub regional blocks begs the question of what happened to Unasur, the 12 nation South American union created in 2004 to unite Mercosur, CAN, and the non-member nations of Chile, Guyana, and Suriname. Internal disputes, largely by and about Chávez, seem to have distracted the region from issues of strategic interest. Perhaps Argentina's new tack will isolate Venezuela's president enough to allow the rest of the continent to rise above the petty squabbling seen at the recent Iberoamerican Summit in Santiago, enabling leaders to return to the more pressing challenge of alleviating poverty and developing their human resources at home.

By Nathan Gill - Southern Affairs


Popular posts from this blog

Moving to the Suburbs: Reducciones in Recent Latin American Historiography

In 1503, the Spanish monarchy issued its first decree for the resettlement of indigenous groups in the Caribbean so that they would “live together” and “not remain or wander separated from each other in the backcountry.”[1]

As the European conquest spread to North, Central, and South America, these new settlements – known as reducciones and congregaciones in Spanish and descimentos in Portuguese – became sites of forced labor, evangelism, experimental agricultural, and refuge. Through a series of imperial policies decreed over the next decades and centuries of colonial rule, Spanish and Portuguese officials attempted to reshape the New World, including its human and natural landscapes. How colonial historians explain this process and indigenous peoples’ reactions to it is the focus of this essay.

In a review of the recent historiography of reducciones, several trends emerge that signal a shift in our understanding of the practice. As this paper will show, one common element is that …

"Open" and "Closed" Regionalism Theories

(Apr. 3, 2008) The terms "Open" and "closed" regionalism refer to the degree in which regional blocks allow nonmember nations to access their markets. In this sense, an "open region" is one with few, if any, external trade restrictions while a "closed region" can be defined as one whose external trade policies seek to restrict commerce with nations outside the region.Closed regionalism as practiced in Latin America grew out of the policy suggestions made by UN ECLAC/CEPAL school of dependency theory in the early 1960s. As discussed earlier, proponents of this policy argued that states should form regional alliances with a series of trade barriers against foreign products to foment regional industrialization and assure captive local markets for these manufactured goods. The failure of this system of integration to meet Latin America's economic goals became apparent during the 1980s and was further highlighted by the strong economic performanc…

Greetings From Gringolandia

Bloomberg Businessweek, March 28 — April 3, 2016
Susan Lamy and her husband, Jean Pierre, owned a successful interior design business in Westport, Conn., but they still worried about how they would make ends meet in retirement. “Just paying for the basic necessities was killing us, and we could see that there was no way that we would ever be able to stop working,” says Lamy. 
The search for an affordable retirement spot led the couple to Cuenca, a Unesco World Heritage site in Ecuador’s southern Andes. They settled there in 2013 and now live in a spacious apartment with a terrace overlooking the Yanuncay River. Lamy says she and her husband enjoy a high standard of living in Cuenca for around $2,500 a month, paid for by their Social Security checks: “This seemed to be the best possibility for having a really terrific life on a fixed income.” 
The combination of a subtropical climate, well-preserved colonial architecture, and low cost of living has made Cuenca a magnet for North Ameri…