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Guest Opinion: CELAC-EU Summit, an Absentee and the Voice of the South

The time of Latin American compliance is gone. The CELAC-EU summit is a sign that the unity of people can put a stop to the hegemony of a single country and help build a multipolar world based on joint and balanced development. 

by Brasil Acosta Pena

For the just-concluded summit between the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union (EU), it is just too difficult to ignore a great absentee — the United States.

The third CELAC-EU summit, held on July 17-18 in Brussels, Belgium, came against the backdrop that global economic and social conditions have changed significantly and several important issues stood out: the COVID-19 pandemic, the rebound of the Chinese economy, the harassment of the United States, who follows the hegemonic philosophy of sweeping away any global counterweights, and the situation in Ukraine, which has forced Europe to obtain gas from the United States and Venezuela.

It is interesting to observe how the two regions, which once maintained a conquered-conqueror bond and now both of which are crucial global economic hubs, came together in this meeting. In the past, Latin American and Caribbean countries have been a supplier of raw materials and a recipient of industrialized European products.

Nowadays, Europe, no longer a hegemon of the world, is often subject to the decisions of the United States, which, through sanctions on Russia and China, also wants to weaken Europe and force it to play the U.S. game.

Therefore, the CELAC-EU summit can be viewed as an instrument for various purposes, namely, taking away market shares from China, winning support for American and European moves against Russia, and sharing European capital that cannot be invested in Russia and China.

First of all, the EU has been committed to investing over 45 billion euros (51 billion U.S. dollars) to support the bloc’s reinforced partnership with Latin America and the Caribbean until 2027.

With restrictions targeted against China’s semiconductor industry, Washington seeks to remove its reliance on China and tends to see “more reliable” European investments in Latin America and the Caribbean, which was historically considered by the United States as its “backyard.”

Secondly, despite months of preparation, a joint statement was not released until the closing of the summit, due to a divergence over whether to condemn Russia over the Ukraine crisis.

That might indicate an implicit recognition of the delivery of deadly cluster bombs that belong to the U.S. arsenal, for which Ukrainians have to pay on their own.

Yet with the resistance of Latin American countries, the statement had to be limited to condemning the Ukraine crisis without mentioning Russia.

It expressed deep concern about the ongoing Ukraine crisis, which “continues to cause immense human suffering and is exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy, constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity and elevating financial stability risks.”

Thirdly, since the Russian market was closed due to U.S. sanctions, and European countries are forced to join the U.S. containment of China, the European capital that can no longer be invested in those countries has been redirected to Latin America and the Caribbean, not only to increase investment but also to implement a higher level of political interference in the region.

A Cuban diplomat (C) chants slogans during the “Jailed for What?” campaign, at the United Nations headquarters in New York, Oct. 16, 2018. (Xinhua/Li Muzi)

The truth is that Latin American countries, including Colombia, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Chile, are not submissive at all. On the contrary, they have raised critical voices against the U.S. blockades and sanctions as long as their interests are affected.

Latin America cannot continue to be seen as a supplier of raw materials, nor should European investment in the region be a source of debt.

The EU should make real efforts to reduce its pollution and contribute to improving environmental conditions, as well as make sure that their increased investment does not produce more pollution, and that their economic interests do not prevail over local development.

The time of Latin American compliance is gone. The CELAC-EU summit is a sign that the unity of people can put a stop to the hegemony of a single country and help build a multipolar world based on joint and balanced development.

Editor’s note: Brasil Acosta Pena is a member of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Congress of the Union of Mexico.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Xinhua News Agency.

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