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Showing posts from June, 2008

Unasur Defense Summit Unable To Reach Consensus

June 27, 2008 (Southern Affairs) -- One month ago the presidents of South America formally created the Union of South American Nations.

While no one was fooled by the momentary goodwill for very long, the proposal to create a South American Defense Council did raise heads. Well, those heads can go back to whatever it was they were doing earlier; South America has proved once again that it is all talk and no walk.

At the Defense Council Summit, held on June 23 and 24 in Santiago, Chile, representatives of all the South American nations except Colombia were unable to agree on any of the basic issues outlined in the Brazilian proposal. Some of the topics discussed included the sharing of best practices and past experiences, combined military exercises, and more cooperation in peacekeeping missions like the one in Haiti.

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the summit was the fact that it was even called in the first place. Given the wide-spread and in some cases escalating conflicts that…

Democracy Strikes Again: The End Of 21st-Century Socialism?

By Nate Gill
June 25, 2008 (Southern Affairs) -- The resignation of the President of Ecuador's Constitutional Assembly Alberto Acosta on June 23 is the latest in a series of setbacks for Latin America's 21st century socialists. With political conditions deteriorating in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Ecuador, it makes sense to ask – what happened to Latin America's socialist revolution? Where is the change their leaders promised to bring?
Acosta's resignation comes just five weeks before a national referendum to approve the new constitution he and his party have spear-headed. Citing a disagreement with the president and his governing political party Alianza Pais (AP) over his concerns that the constitution was not ready for a national referendum at the end of July, Acosta said in an interview with Reuters that he had been asked to step down by AP party officials.
The announcement came on the same day that the southern Bolivian province of Tarija approved a referendum for grea…

Interview About Unasur With KALW 91.7FM San Francisco

Peru's Halts Jungle Highway Construction After Investigation Shows Design Wasn't Done

June 9, 2008 (Southern Affairs) -- Peru's Transportation and Communications Minister VerĂ³nica Zavala announced May 27th that Unasur's highest profile project, an inter-oceanic highway connecting the Brazilian Atlantic with the Peruvian Pacific, was being investigated after discovering that it did not have a budget or engineering plans.

The minister told a Congressional Committee that while construction on the highway had already begun, it was unclear how much it would actually cost because engineers had plans for only five of the total 1000 kilometers. The 2004 contract estimated that the highway would cost US$810 million but the contractor has since revised its estimates upwards claiming that it will take an additional US$569 million to complete the project. It is unclear what the figures are based on though, given that engineers have yet to finish designing the project. The revelation raises serious questions about how South America plans to integrate the continents infrastr…

Unasur 2008 Summit: All Circus No Bread

June 7, 2008 (Southern Affairs) -- It is unclear what the recent Unasur summit in Brasilia actually accomplished. Six months late and set against the backdrop of the worst regional conflict since the 1990s, the 12 presidents of South America tried hard to hide the growing divisions between their governments with lofty rhetoric of fraternity and integration but were unable to conceal the fact that after eight years of "integration," the continent was further from this goal than when it began.

Underscoring the union's inability to unite is the fact that the so called "constitutive" charter signed on May 23 was actually the second one the group has signed in just four years. When you consider that South America's presidents have been meeting on an almost annual basis since 2000, Brasilia's fireworks seem somehow out of place; especially given the fact that the 2008 charter effectively killed the idea of uniting the Andean community and Mercosur into one re…