A recent summit of left and center-left parties in Latin America and the Caribbean suggests that the Kremlin is not alone in encouraging the spread of anti-Western sentiments.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (left) stands next to Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff during his visit to Latin America, July 14, 2014. Photo: AP
In late July and early August, Mexico City hosted the annual meeting of the Sao Paulo Forum (SPF), which brings together left and center-left parties in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Although the meeting in Mexico City did not attract the attention of the world’s leading media, the SPF remains one of the key non-political associations in the Western Hemisphere.
Within the framework of today’s international left-wing movement, the SPF is perhaps unique in its format. No other platform anywhere else in the world unites such a vast left-wing political spectrum — from Trotskyism to social democracy.
Created a quarter of a century ago at the initiative of Fidel Castro and the founder of the Workers’ Party and Brazilian President (2003-2010) Lula da Silva, the Forum has evolved into the most influential party-political cartel in the Latin American region.
The SPF includes parties that play decisive roles in the governments of Cuba, Nicaragua, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay and Chile.
As noted by delegates themselves at the SPF summit in Mexico City, “In contrast to other regions of the world, ours remains an example of implementing a policy alternative to neo-liberalism, involving a wide variety of economic models and autonomous regional integration projects.”
The left’s influence is evidenced by at least one fact: Today in South America there are only two countries (Colombia and Paraguay) without left-wing presidents.
How the Latin American left views US foreign policy
It goes without saying that at the top of the SPF agenda in Mexico City were the processes of inter-American integration under the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and MERCOSUR (the South American trading bloc. - Editor's note) formats — integration processes which the Latin American left has consistently supported and promoted.
At the same time, the outcome document of the Forum gives other topics in world politics plenty of coverage.
In particular, the outcome document offers an assessment of current U.S. policy. This is no coincidence if one bears in mind that the Latin American left, for the most part, traditionally adheres to an anti-U.S. and anti-imperialist agenda.
Aware of the modifications in U.S. foreign policy that have taken place under President Barack Obama, SPF participants were nevertheless adamant that, “In the field of foreign policy the U.S. administration has retained the aggressive nature and logic of the Cold War.”
According to various parties and movements represented at the Forum, the United States continues to carry out subversive activity in respect to the progressive governments of Latin America with the dual aim of reversing the social gains achieved by the region’s incumbent leftist governments and restoring U.S. political and economic supremacy in Latin America.
Drawing attention to the erosion of U.S. global might and the appearance of new “centers of power,” the Latin American left also notes that Washington continues to play a negative role in various regions of the world: the Greater Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.
Leftist parties at the SPF also expressed considerable concern about the confidential nature of the negotiations on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which, in their view, is “a collusion between the American and European elites who want to keep their profits.”
Potential Latin American allies: Russia, China and the BRICS
While the United States has always been quite hostile to Latin America’s leading leftist forces, the SPF argues that, in the current global political environment, “We are entering a phase of competition for hegemony and of acceleration towards political and military conflict.” For that reason, Latin American and Caribbean countries need geopolitical partners.
And judging by the final declaration of the recently concluded summit, it appears that Russia and China are the most likely candidates.
With China, everything is clear. The country has become a major economic partner and the leading foreign investor for most Latin American countries; moreover, there are clearly mutual political sympathies between Beijing and Latin American leftists.
As is generally known, Russia’s relations with many Latin American countries in the political and economic spheres have rapidly intensified in recent years.
Brazil, Argentina, Cuba and Venezuela have all expressed interest in developing comprehensive relations with Russia. Of course, one cannot discount the “historical factor” (the Latin American left traditionally has a soft spot for Russia).
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But the “pragmatic factor” appears still to be the priority: Left-wing governments in Latin America see Russia as a natural counterbalance to “the Empire,” as they usually refer to the United States.
The outcome document of the latest meeting of the Forum notes in particular that the United States and its allies have continued the process of NATO expansion in Eastern Europe, and the escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine is largely an expression of the conflict of interests between the United States and NATO on one side and Russia on the other.
It is noted that the main aim of the rigid policy pursued by the United States and the West is to punish and weaken Russia, which, in turn, wants to pursue a balanced policy in favor of a multipolar world and “is working on closer economic and political ties with China and other developing countries.”
The Sao Paulo Forum also confirmed its favorable attitude to the BRICS, which, in its view, is working to establish a more equitable global financial and economic order.
From this point of view, the SPF proposals to develop a “civic agenda” within the BRICS framework and promote the “social character” of BRICS infrastructure projects (i.e. ensure they are not farmed out exclusively to very large exporter companies) appear to have a substantive basis.
The documents adopted at the SPF summit in Mexico City suggest that Latin America’s present-day left has little sympathy for the socio-political model of modern Russia. But in terms of international politics, the Latin American left still sees Moscow as a privileged geopolitical partner for its region.