The decision of the South American majority to stand up to North America, at the recently concluded Summit of the Americas in Colombia, is quite significant. It is the first time in the recent history of The Americas that the South has clearly told the North: "Enough is enough."
Latin American and Caribbean nations put on a united front in telling the USA and Canada that it would be the last Summit they would attend without Cuba. The latter has been traditionally barred from attending the Summit, following Washington's orders.
The leaders also insisted their support for Argentina's claim to the Malvinas would be listed in the Final Communiqué, but Washington and Toronto again objected. Therefore, for the first time in its recent history, the summit ended without a Declaration.
As occurs at the Organization of American States (OAS), where Cuba is also traditionally barred from the annual General Assembly (at Washington's insistence), and at the United Nations, where the rest of the world annually votes against the 50-year-old US economic blockade against Cuba, Washington continues to wield its Big Stick policy of "Might is Right."
But what the USA and Canada have just experienced at the recent Colombia Summit is just a taste of what tomorrow's world will be like. The developing nations of the world will continue to assert their strength in order to demand necessary global changes. They will especially do so regarding institutions that are supposed to be international entities, to which the nations of the world subscribe.
The signals have been increasingly clear and the demands ever louder, but neither the Europeans nor the North Americans have been listening. Instead, they continue to turn a deaf ear to the increasing global calls for institutional changes and adjustments. Such changes would allow eligible candidates from developing countries fair and equal access to top positions in international institutions.
One of the clearest absurdities about the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, is that although they are subscribed to by all the world's developing nations, no candidate from any developing country has ever been elected or appointed to hold the top position of either.
Opportunities for change came knocking at both institutions' doors, but were outright rejected.
The fall of disgraced ex-IMF Executive Director Dominic Strauss-Kahn last year, gave rise to a unique opportunity for Europe to show it was ready to embrace change and transparency in appointing his replacement. But Europe largely ignored demands that the next head of the institution be more understanding of the real economic and financial needs and concerns of developing nations.
The US got a similar opportunity when the time came last week to appoint a new World Bank President. But Washington too opted to ignore the calls for considering a non-American candidate. The candidate in question this time was the Nigerian Minister of Finance who, as a former senior official within it, also knows and understands the workings of the World Bank quite well).
The US and Europe have, respectively, appointed the candidates for leadership of the two Bretton Woods institutions established after the Second World War as they've always done, ever since establishment of the World Bank and the IMF in 1946.
The South's reaction to the North at the Summit of the Americas was strong, as the majority of The Americas' leaders made it absolutely clear there may very well not be another summit, if Cuba is not invited.
The Latin Americans are tired of Washington's continued punishment of Cuba for its 53-year-old revolution -- especially incidents like last year's cancellation of a reservation for Cuban President Raul Castro and his delegation at an American-owned hotel in Trinidad & Tobago, under pressure from Washington. The Cubans were in Port of Spain to attend two regional summit meetings involving Caribbean and Latin American nations and the hotel said it had been told their stay would violate the US' anti-Cuba Helms Burton Act.
The fact that the South American leaders were able to put the possible legalization of drugs on the Summit's agenda, and get the US President to participate in the discussion, is another indication the winds are changing, as Latin American leaders seek more workable alternatives to the US-led war on drugs, that continues to take a high death toll.
As President Obama is approaching the end of his (first) term, Washington can be expected, at least for the rest of this year, to flex its muscles even more, whereas Latin America is likely to stiffen its resistance to orders from north of the border.
Times are changing indeed.
The cracks are widening and it's very clear that the relationship between North and South America is quickly starting to resemble one of The USA vs The Americas.
However, unlike in the past when no one dared to even question Washington's actions in its so-called backyard, the vast majority of current Latin American leaders seem ready to stand up to Uncle Sam. And when it comes to Cuba, they can tell him exactly where to go!
The author is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit: http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/earlbousquet.htm
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