dilemma: how to avoid the trap of being forced
to choose between the Scylla of interventionism and the Charybdis of neglect. Striking a
balance to escape from this dilemma is one of
the great challenges facing the future incumbent of the White House, as far as U.S. diplomacy in the Americas is concerned.
A proper understanding of the region
should be paramount. The Americas today is a
diverse, heterogeneous and hard-to-define mixture of different regions, countries, cultures,
and societies, all searching for their place in a
fast-changing, globalized world. Even the term
Latin America may turn out to be misleading
if it does not include the Caribbean or fails to
acknowledge the many ethnic, linguistic and
cultural identities of our region.
A rich agenda for For some U.S. policymakers, not well
integrationhas acquainted with the region, this diversity
looks like a conundrum of intractable propor-
brought effective tions. Others seek reassurance by relying upon
results in the awkward generalizations about “Latins south
fields of social of the border.” In reality, the picture is much
more intricate. Apart from often being offen-
policy, health, sive, generalizations are, in the end, detrimen-
education, tal to sound policy.
culture, and the In this article, I will confine myself to Bra-
zil’s closest neighborhood: South America.
environment, If we examine it closely, we see a whole con-
among othe:rs. tinent trying to transform itself. “Change” is the name of the game for millions of people who rightfully feel they have been excluded from the benefits of progress. Elite-dominated poli-
tics is no longer tolerated. In some countries,
the stakes are so high that calling it “social rev-
olution” could perhaps be more appropriate.
Governments elected by popular vote, however, are confronted with numerous hurdles
on the path to development. History has
bequeathed to the region a complex array of deep-rooted economic and social inequalities that are
extremely difficult to surmount. Accommodating old grievances with the rise of new political
forces has always been a painful process everywhere. South America is no different.
In this context, the establishment of the
Union of South American Nations (Unasul in
Portuguese) in May 2008 might well be seen
as a historic breakthrough. This new regional entity aims at strengthening the political
dimension of an all-encompassing integration
effort already under way. Trade agreements
94 americas quarterly fall 2008
foster closer economic relations. Investments
in transport and communications unite populations across borders. A rich agenda for
integration has brought effective results in
the fields of social policy, health, education,
culture and the environment, among others.
Rarely has so much been done in such a short
period of time. South American presidents
meet regularly and coordinate more closely
than they ever have in the past.
Integration is actually the key for a future
of peace, stability, democracy, and development with social justice. To achieve this goal
more fully, we must confront tensions and
avert divisive conflicts. Peaceful settlements
must be encouraged by making full use of
established multilateral fora or available institutional mechanisms. Brazil has been playing an active role in forging unity in ways
that give due consideration to regional asymmetries and to each country’s specific reality.
Through bilateral ties, as well as through Mer-cosul and Unasul, Brazil will continue to do its
utmost to promote the spirit of fellowship in
South America and to strengthen the region’s
sense of belonging together.
Mr. President-elect, we hope you will
approach the region with an open mind and
a genuine desire to personally engage in an
exchange of views in all areas of common
interest, with no preconditions.
On the bilateral front, Brazil and the U.S.
already maintain a continuing political dialogue on a wide variety of issues of both regional and global relevance. The U.S. has interests
across the globe. As President Lula’s active
diplomacy has shown, Brazil is prepared to
take on greater responsibilities in international affairs. Presidents Bush and Lula have built
a solid, working relationship, as witnessed by
their exchange of visits in 2007. Topics on the
agenda range from climate change and WTO
negotiations to UN Security Council reform
and the G8 outreach meetings, not to mention
combating hunger and poverty worldwide.
Our shared values allow for enhanced cooperation in a number of important areas, from
business contacts to human rights. A good
example of the latter is the joint action plan to
eliminate racial discrimination and promote
equality, which was signed during the latest
visit of the secretary of state to Brazil.