The “diplomatic operation” for Alberto Fernández to occupy the presidency of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) shows, once again, the fragility of Argentina’s foreign policy.
Specifically, to achieve the “decisive vote” of Nicaragua, Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero had to assure the government of Daniel Ortega that from now on criticism of the legitimacy of his government will not be hinted at, elected with all the opponents imprisoned, in the best tradition of all electoral dictatorships (or democracies “, according to the French historian Pierre Rosanvallon).
Not just Nicaragua, where the Sandinista revolution became a regression to the times of Anastasio Somoza. The unanimity was assured by Venezuela and Cuba, two other “revolutions” that disguise the authoritarianism of the elite as dictatorship and the repression of opponents of the “anti-imperialist struggle.”
Of course, Latin America and the Caribbean represent a much broader horizon. The support of Mexico, which ended its presidency of CELAC, for Fernández’s nomination is fundamental. Together with Brazil, they represent the two leading economies in the region, and have specific differences. They both understand each other with Washington in business terms.
Brazil, historically, practiced a certain autonomy against the United States and already had strong commercial, industrial and technological ties with China, but it is not in CELAC by decision of Jair Bolsonaro.
Mexico, on the other hand, during the long local hegemony of the PRI, as in the conservative presidencies that followed in the 21st century, and now, with the self-proclaimed progressive Andrés López Obrador, it continues to be an unconditional partner of the United States.
Precisely, neither the United States nor Canada are in CELAC.
Against the OAS
This community was created in 2010 in order to “strengthen or renew multidimensional actions with the objective of giving governance and security to the region.” In other words, it was one more attempt to give political weight to the region against North America.
Fernández’s presidency comes at a particularly critical moment: although they hide it, there is a tendency to confront the Organization of American States, particularly the Uruguayan Luis Almagro, who is not tolerated by reports of human rights violations and to the democratic system in Venezuela and Nicaragua. They also link it with what was presented as a “coup d’etat” in Bolivia, when, in November 2019, the re-election of Evo Morales (violating a referendum against and the country’s Constitution) generated a popular revolt, in the that the same protesters on both sides spoke of “civil war”; the only thing verified is that the Bolivian Army refused to repress and recommended that Morales resign. And Morales resigned.
But this questioning of the OAS occurs simultaneously with the one that Russian President Vladimir Putin (with the endorsement of China) makes the United States for its policies at the UN, NATO and Eastern Europe.
This point should not be neglected. An insipid body like CELAC can place Argentina in a place that it is not in a position to sustain.
Putin, China and NATO
Before Fernández’s arrival, the Beijing government had agreed with CELAC to increase cooperation in all areas where China and the United States dispute world hegemony: digital infrastructure, telecommunications equipment, 5G, “big data”, computing in the cloud, artificial intelligence, Internet of things and smart cities, which add to exchanges and cooperation in the aerospace field, civil aviation, public policies in the energy industry.
Russia and China are very clear about their geopolitical strategy, regardless of whether it is a marriage of convenience between gigantic neighbors. Putin continues to consider that the former USSR is alive, in another way, but valid at last. His confrontation with Ukraine, which sparks a dispute smelling of mutual threats with Joe Biden, and his zealous control of the members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (ex-Soviet).
Putin and Yi Jinping are circumstantial allies, and Syria, Iran and North Korea appear under their aegis.
And its rivals are the US, Europe and NATO.
It is also true that China’s strategy for Latin America and the Caribbean is “not to alter and challenge the regional order established by US power.”
It proposes free trade, investment and financing and a network of new strategic relationships for the resolution of multilateral and bilateral conflicts.
In this regard, the academic Juan Gabriel Tokatlian warns that China does not promote new emancipatory postulates, but it is attractive for some movements due to the combination of high economic growth and strong authoritarianism.
The “moral realism” and its pacifist appearance contrasts with China’s relations with its neighbors. The violent incidents in Hong Kong, the prolonged blockade it is trying to impose on Taiwan, the border conflicts with India and Pakistan and the eternal enmity with Japan are antecedents that must be taken into account.
The authoritarianism of the current state capitalism, with the face of Mao and the philosophy of Confucius, had its most serious opposition manifestation, by Maoist students, and culminated in thousands of deaths on June 4, 1989, in Tianamen Square. .
President Fernández’s speech: “CELAC was not born to oppose someone”, is an expression of wishes; as ambiguous as the ratification of the principle of “non-intervention” that he himself applies in flagrant cases of Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, and that he forgets when he interferes in the internal affairs of Brazil, Chile, Bolivia or Peru.
Latin America is a region that, little by little, is being left out of the world agenda. Except for Mexico and Brazil, the subcontinent is becoming of little relevance. And the least it would do is to become a battlefield, a backyard in a war whose characteristics are unpredictable.
The fragmented region
The slow and prolonged agony of MERCOSUR and the sinking of UNASUR show that Latin American integration is excessively subject to the ideologies or leaderships of the day. The confrontation between populism and neoliberalism establishes a rift, which in reality is nothing more than the sign that common interests either do not matter, or it is not known how to defend them.
If we look at the political processes of recent years in Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Bolivia and Venezuela, particularly, from Argentina we should look carefully at the cost of both the lack of technological development seriously (not to settle for a park entertainment such as Technopolis) and the weakening of political structures.
Beyond the political cost, which demolishes the traditional parties, there is a glimpse of the social cost. Poverty, technological backwardness, the “popular economy”, the inability to generate jobs are the product of inertia. They are the result of fractured societies and political systems that fail to perceive, much less solve, local problems.
Alberto Fernández’s presidency has not yet been able to present a government plan at the national level and is engaged in crucial negotiations with the International Monetary Fund. One wonders how the leadership of a CELAC that appears between two fires on the world stage will lead to a successful conclusion.