Venezuelan constitutional crisis' a propaganda'
Jan. 5, 2013: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (above) may have to take the oath of office for his next term before the Supreme Court at a later date if he isn't fit to be sworn in next week and, the news of a brewing constitutional crisis and the necessity to hold fresh election 'is a propaganda', according to experts. Vice-President Nicolas Maduro said the government may seek to postpone Chavez's scheduled inauguration as the 58-year-old president is yet to recover from a severe respiratory infection after undergoing cancer surgery in Cuba.
Heads of State from 33 Latin American & Caribbean nations formed CELAC grouping in Caracas on December 2
Regional grouping ignores USA & Canada
(Global Review Special)
An over-obsession with geopolitics during economic turmoil can turn costly. The US is busy in luring away nations bordering China, including Myanmar and Bangladesh, while its grip in the hemisphere falters and it’s loathed by its immediate neighbours.
These are desperate moments for many national leaders who have little appetite to play politics. While inaugurating the formation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on December 2 in the Venezuelan capital Caracas, President Hugo Chavez declared the Monroe Doctrine dead.
“There will be no more conflicts among us. Enough of them pitting us against one another; which they sometimes succeeded in doing. … Either we build a grand fatherland or there will be no fatherland … The Monroe Doctrine was imposed here: America for Americans, the Yankees. They imposed their will during 200 years, but that’s enough," a cancer-stricken but defiant Chavez informed the 33 heads of governments who have signed to form the new regional grouping.
Asian nations have much to learn from this unprecedented Latin-Caribbean unity. The newly created union is the world’s one of the largest regional blocs. It aims to supplant the US-dominated Organization of American States (OAS) and bypassed taking on board the USA and Canada. Cuban President Raul Castro hailed the move as the most important event to have taken place in Latin America over the last 100 years.
The summit itself made an instant impact due to its anti-imperialistic and anti-US rhetoric and underpinnings. Related to it or not, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper rushed to Washington to meet President Barack Obama for an emergency consultation.
The 33 summiteers were united in their rejection of the US economic, commercial and financial blockade of Cuba and demanded the end of what they termed as ‘unilateral and extraterritorial US policy’ that has continued since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The leaders said they aim to reduce US involvement in regional matters.
The political significance of the birth of this giant hemispheric club was best summarized by one Raúl Zibechi who writes for Mexico's La Jornada newspaper. Zibechi said, "The creation of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States is part of a global and continental shift, characterized by the decline of U.S. hegemony and the rise of a group of regional blocs that form part of the new global balance.”
The impact of the grouping will be felt intensely in the decades old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). One of its members, Mexico, chose to join the CELAC without any formal consultation with the other two NAFTA members, USA and Canada.
A lot of it is economic-necessity-driven. While the US and its European allies are beset with debt and deficits, strong demand in Asia for commodities like iron ore, tin, and gold has resulted in huge Asian investment, particularly from China, in the Latin American and Caribbean economies. Most of these countries now trade more and more with Asia and their focus has shifted to the far, to the continent of Asia.
The growing need for commodities from the Latin American countries has already led to China surpassing the US as Brazil’s top trading partner. Beijing is also the second largest trading partner of Venezuela and Colombia. In 2005, the same countries refused to sign the US-mooted Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA). Now they did it without the USA and Canada.
China and Russia aside, the CELAC is the new economic muscleman of the American hemisphere, a fact witnessed last week when IMF’s Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, made a whirlwind to Brazil, Mexico and Peru to encourage their leaders to provide aid to the struggling Euro zone economies for which IMF has created a $390 billion war chest, but little of that fund is as yet available for disbursement.
The World Bank says the Latin American economy will grow by 4.5 percent this year. It could be more. Brazil’s growth last year surpassed 9%, and, it is a rare country to have had a budget surplus to the tune of 3% of the GDP.
The CELAC is expected to make a major contribution in reviving the plunging global economy. One of the startling observations in the economic performances of 2010 and 2011 is an evident lack of cohesiveness between the two economic calendars. In 2010, G-8 nations grew slower but robust growth in the developing economies compensated for the shortfall.
That picture has changed in 2011. As the emerging BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) scrambled to rein in inflation by tightening money supply amid soaring commodity prices, they too have endured reduced growth in 2011. Latest data indicates Brazil’s sizzling hot economy slowed steadily while growth in India registered only 6.9 % in the second quarter of 2011. In November, both Brazil and China experienced sharp decline in manufacturing activities.
The European debt crisis constitutes a major part of the problem; the EU nations, hitherto, being the leading importers of commodities from emerging economies. Coupled with dried up lending and flow of investment from European banks, capital repatriation from Europe to the developing economies came to a grinding halt in 2011.
This new reality is here to stay for a while, or, maybe for years to come, hence the role of CELAC’s combined strength in reviving growth among the emerging economies.
Besides, Europe is not resource rich, the emerging economies are. But the emerging economies are worried of being dominated by the rich economies and they want to move alone in this perilous journey. Many of them think the rich nations have failed them.
Another observable historic pattern is: the Europeans and the USA often indulge in military adventurism whenever their domestic economies begin to sink. That proclivity having proven disastrous, it must be challenged head on.