December 10, 2006

II Summit of the South American Community: Balance

MABB © ®

The II Summit of the South American Community is over and here is the balance. In few words, it can be said that the summit was NOT successful, even though the government, for logical reasons, might have an opposite view. Although, in one aspect, it was a hit.

If one criteria for success was South American integration, a la Boliviar, then the summit failed to lay the grounding stones. The presidents and other representatives, all, agreed on one single thing: Integration. However, pretty much all disagreed on how the integration should be carried out. There were basically two observable currents. The one, following the Chavez and Morales agenda has populist, socialist and communitarian undertones. It concentrates on "taking care of the people". The other current is that of Alan Garcia and Michelle Bachelet, and perhaps, Lula da Silva. That is, it also has social undertones, but is does not define itself as enemy of globalization and neoliberalism. This las part is one of the most important ideological differences.

The summit failed to create a mechanism to start the planning and coordination stages. Instead it created a High Officials Commission, which would further work on the integrationist goal. It also failed to create consensus among the participating governments. In their speeches, many Presidents, such as Chavez, Da Silva, Bachelet, Garcia, and even Morales himself, conceeded that consensus was not present and even criticized the summit as not productive.

One of the highlights was though, the rapprochement between Peru's Alan Garcia and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez. The two had exchange insults during and right after the Peruvian elections. Both countries had pull their top diplomats out of the respective countries.

Additionally, the summit was plagued by confusion, disorganization and lack of facilities to hold a meeting of that calibre. The organizers admitted the problems and made it clear they warned Morales of all those problems.

Meanwhile, the oppostion did not waist time and sought several meetings with some presidents. Prefect of Cochabamba, Manfred Reyes Villa, met with Vazquez and Lula da Silva. He wanted to explain the details of the crisis in the Constituent Assembly over the voting methodology. Former president Rodriguez Velze, wrote a letter to Da Silva to also express his opinions and inform him in detail.

It seems a bit ironic to me hosting the summit and speaking of regional integration when at home is being talked about "independence".