Latin American and Caribbean Voices in a Multipolar World

Latin American and Caribbean Voice in a Multipolar World

Latin American and Caribbean Voice in a Multipolar World

2024 and 2025 hold significant potential for multilateralism in the Latin American and Caribbean region. In March, leaders will convene at the 8th Summit of the Latin American and Caribbean Community (CELAC), followed by their participation in the China-CELAC Forum later this year.

Looking ahead to 2025, the region will engage in the X Summit of the Americas and the EU-CELAC Summit. These gatherings bring together regional leaders with their Chinese, U.S., Canadian, and European counterparts, presenting a distinctive opportunity for the region to navigate an increasingly intricate and multipolar global order.

However, in order to seize these opportunities, Latin America and the Caribbean must collectively identify their priorities and strive to present a unified voice.

Collaboration and Competition in the Americas: A Historical Overview

Throughout history, collaboration and competition have been prominent themes in the Americas. The Latin American and Caribbean region has a rich history of coordination efforts dating back to the Congress of Panama in 1826. This led to the establishment of the Pan American Union, which later evolved into the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1890. The region has also played a significant role in the development of international organizations.

However, despite these efforts, there have been challenges in developing a unified approach to foreign policy. The creation of numerous regional organizations, along with frustrations regarding their functionality and ideological differences, has resulted in overlapping memberships and mandates. This has limited their effectiveness in bringing about meaningful change and collaboration. As a result, there has been a tendency to form additional minilateral forums to address specific issues, often intentionally including or excluding certain countries or perspectives.

Former OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza once humorously remarked that there have been approximately 100 organizations in the past 100 years, all of which have been dissolved because the governments that created them are no longer in power. This proliferation of organizations has led to a loss of faith in their efficacy, rendering many of them defunct.

The challenge lies in finding ways to address the issues within existing regional organizations and fostering a unified regional voice, rather than constantly resurrecting “zombie” organizations. The recent CELAC Summit in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines exemplified this challenge, with only eight presidents in attendance, highlighting the difficulty in building consensus within the region.

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Embracing Opportunities in a Multipolar World

In a world characterized by multiple geopolitical power centers, Latin American and Caribbean find themselves in a unique position. While major global tensions are brewing elsewhere, this region remains relatively untouched by such conflicts. However, it is not immune to the interests of Europe, the United States, and China, who are eyeing its resources and influence. By leveraging this distance from global tensions and its own resources, Latin American and Caribbean can potentially turn the U.S.-Chinese rivalry to their advantage, opening up new opportunities for growth and development.

Collaborating to formulate cohesive strategies for engaging with Europe, China, and the U.S. will be crucial for the region’s success. Finding common ground and fostering healthy competition among these major players could lead to increased investment and engagement in key sectors. Yet, achieving this unity will be a challenging endeavor.

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Overcoming ideological differences, economic competition, and a strong emphasis on sovereignty will be necessary for countries in the region to come together and speak with a unified voice. The Caribbean Community’s struggles in this regard serve as a reminder of the obstacles that lie ahead.

It should be acknowledged that achieving this goal is not an insurmountable task. Despite the historical obstacles faced in establishing a unified foreign policy, the years 2024 and 2025 present a crucial window of opportunity for the region to collectively assert itself on the global stage. This necessitates a shift in focus towards identifying shared interests rather than emphasizing differences in a region that is deeply divided. By determining key areas where the region seeks to engage with the European Union, China, and the United States, they can actively participate in these discussions and utilize existing rivalries to ensure that the outcomes of these summits align with their own interests. However, if the region remains divided, it will squander the potential benefits that these summits offer, ultimately undermining both the region’s progress and the advancement of multilateralism in the Americas.

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