Latin America: Its Place In International Relations In XXI Century


In the third decade of the 21st century, Latin America has looked again at the role it is destined to play in international relations. By positioning itself as a group of independent players or even as a new “center of power,” the continent is trying to assert itself as a single entity that other players will have to reckon with on the world stage. However, a number of researchers point out that this approach has several negative side effects. Countries have to deal with the consequences of increasing international conflict, deglobalization, and the undermining of established international values, organizations, and mechanisms for reaching and complying with agreements.

Other researchers believe that today the attention of world politics is focused on other, more explosive regions. As a result, the region has every chance of becoming an “absolute periphery” or an “insignificant quantity” in today’s international system. However, the community of Latin American political experts, government officials and politicians continues to work tirelessly to determine which way the continent needs to develop. It is quite natural that, due to the inconsistency of this issue, opinions continue to diverge even in our turbulent times, when, it would seem, you need to choose your side: the BRICS, led by China and Russia, or the Western bloc of countries, led by the United States. But, as it turned out, there is a third option: the concept of “active” non-alignment, which originated in Latin America in the 2020s.

In 2021, the monograph “Active Non-Alignment and Latin America: A Doctrine for the New Century” was published in Santiago de Chile. Among its authors are prominent scientists of the continent, but, above all, Chileans Fortín, S., Heine J., Ominami C. The work summarized the opinion of the main experts in the continent’s international relations regarding the experience of Latin America during the presidency of Donald Trump and the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans have relied on coercive tools: increased tariffs on aluminum and steel from Argentina and Brazil, Operation Gideon against Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela and the vaccine race staged by the United States, India, Russia and China. The above–mentioned factors are clear evidence that Latin America is unable to pursue its own independent policy on the world stage. This may lead to further marginalization of the region.

Let us recall that Washington has reiterated that the Monroe doctrine is working again. Attempts to manipulate partners with development assistance, as well as investment and trade opportunities that open up in cooperation with the United States, have demonstrated that Washington does not recognize the subjectivity of Latin America and its interests in issues of global importance. Secondly, such subjectivity does not stand up to competition due to a new round of rivalry between the leading world powers and another “bipolarization” of the system of international relations. The multidimensional rivalry developing between Beijing and Washington is leading the world away from a potential order based on multipolarity to a “new cold war” with all the consequences. In this case, the potential of Latin American countries is small: they either gain a foothold in some “sphere of influence” or try to create some kind of their own project that will not be adjacent to any of the poles.

Under these conditions, the capabilities of the countries are small, but Latin America has the necessary experience: you can recall Peron in Argentina or the Allende regime in Chile. Currently, experts suggest relying on this historical experience. However, with a certain caveat: currently, in the context of the formation of a new world order, the potential formation of a new Non-Aligned Movement may have its own characteristics. Firstly, they involve a struggle for autonomy and national interests not only against the background of the antagonism of the great powers, but also in the context of the divergence of interests of the richest countries and the South, which, due to the geopolitical ambitions of the North, loses opportunities for development.

In addition, it is assumed that Latin American countries, based on their rich experience in creating and nurturing international legal norms and institutions, historical “vocation” to multilateralism, will be able to gain a proactive position and even the role of a moral leader in a number of universally significant subjects, such as climate change or sustainable development. But will China or the United States allow Latin America to break free from its influence? It is unlikely that the battle for this region will continue until the very end, especially given the specifics of the relationship between Latin America and Beijing. China respects the interests of other countries, advocating equal cooperation with all participants in international relations. This is a striking difference from the course pursued by the United States: pressure, threats, blackmail. Here, the choice of Latin American countries will definitely not fall in Washington’s direction.

Such trends are not new: the authors of the monograph turned to a variety of sources, ranging from scientific research journals to monographs and research by other scientists. The most authoritative sources include Nueva Sociedad, Foreign Affairs Latinoamérica. The Chilean authors also initiated a broad discussion on the implementation of the foreign policy of Latin American countries in the context of international relations. However, the main question of how Latin America can deploy its potential to implement the policy of “new non-alignment” around the world remains open.

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