What Role Can Latin America Play On World Stage Today?

Introduction

Latin America constitutes one of the core global regions interacting immensely with Europe, North America and East Asia. It is a fundamental test case for not only democratisation but also socialism, neo-liberal economics, and other strategies in the developing world (Kerr and Wiseman, 2017). A detailed look notes that Latin America has exhibited substantial evolution both grass-root mechanisms to empower local citizens and in regional institutional building. In the same vein, the tragedies of poverty and inequality in conjunction with legacies of adverse political perturbations are still alive and well in most of the region’s countries. Trends in Latin America have continually influenced the world’s community of nations; especially Europe, North America and Asia-Pacific countries. This study intends to harness the secondary sources in examining various political roles which Latin America nations can play on world stage.

An Overview of Democratic Quality in Latin America

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Covarrubias and Domínguez (2014) note the year 2013 was remarkable to the history of Latin America in the sense that it marked the 35th anniversary since the advent of third wave of democratization in the region. The transition began with the Dominican Republic in 1978, followed closely by the countries within the Andean region. In 1980s, Central America countries, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay conceived their third wave democratization; while Nicaragua experiencing its in 1990. Cuba stands out as the only exception in this trend. Besides, the year 2013 was special to the region because it conceived the beginning of a new electoral dispensation whereby 17 states held or scheduled to conduct presidential polls. Between the electoral cycles of 2009 to 2012, Latin America held 17 presidential polls, and then over a period of 8 years (2009 to 2016), more than 34 presidential polls were conducted. This observation is unprecedented in historical development of Latin America because never before has the region such a sustained sequence of elections in such a short span (Cleary 2018)

The prospects of democracy are better comprehended when examined over an extended time, to deduce how institutional structures of different nations meet democratic principles such as the quality of citizens and freedom (Grunwald, 2018). This implies that countries ought to put in place sufficient relationship between the production of wealth on the basis of economic prosperity and its fair distribution. Satisfying such standards is fundamental to the idea of proximity and openness towards democratic societies where populism and authoritarianism do not exist. Achieving fairness and equity in Latin America’s distribution of resources requires a political solution and therefore politics constitutes a prime indicator of the quality of democracy in the region. The jubilation of over thirty years of democratization is a nice occasion to reflect on the path taken and assess that which has been achieved and what remains to be done in the future; alongside the rapidly spinning wheels of political, social and economic dynamisms (Shifter, 2012).

The Integration Potential of Latin America

Throughout the corridors of history, Latin America has strived to integrate to uplift her political and economic statue in the global scale. The idea behind these pursuits hails from the axiom that increased cooperation amongst countries brings forth expanded markets for Latin American products, more pressure to the region in global discussions and increased independence from external powers such as China and the United States of America in the 21st century (Kerr and Wiseman, 2017).

Theoretically, the promotion of a cohesive and integrated Latin America is relatively easier based on the premise most of the nations under this sphere share almost similar cultural artefacts except for Brazil which is a Portuguese lingual country. In addition, the countries in the region are relatively stable politically and economically hence there are no quotable secessionist movements, and the region has experienced peace amongst themselves since 1930s (Kerr and Wiseman, 2017).

Since political independence from Portugal and Spain in the beginning of the 19th century, the leaders of Latin America have showcased willingness to establish strong ties, integrate their economies and develop a common say towards the rest of the world. The earliest proponent of this sort of unity was the independence hero, Simon Boliver in 1800s. A century later however, distrust and political stability among neighbouring nations for instance Brazil and Argentina have hampered the quests for integration (Wiarda and Kline, 2018).

Political Ideologies and Economies in Latin America

The consensus on political culture and the nexus between politics and economy in the United States yields a thin range of political ideologies driving politics. Many citizens and politicians are inclined towards moderate conservative to moderate liberal range, with majority of the people embracing liberal tradition build on the threshold of capitalism precepts. This conception sharply contrasts with the case of Latin America, whereby the fragmented political tradition has yielded a range of political ideologies from communism ad Marxism on the left to social democracy and populism in the centre, to authoritarian and extreme conservative such as fascism on the right. Majority of these philosophies have formed the basis of Latin American governance structures including communism in Cuba, and other brands of fascism and authoritarianism in nations such as Chile, Paraguay and Brazil (Booth, Wade and Walker, 2018).

In its broader array of political affiliations and economies, Latin America is more oriented to the Western continent than to the US. The distinction lies on the view that Western countries contain an agreement concerning political culture spinning around pluralist democracy and capitalism although in different forms from conservatives to democrats (Gwynne and Cristobal, 2014). Therefore, the broad array of ideologies and their interplay to economy have not induced political instability in Western Europe during the last 100 years as has been the in Latin America.

Latin America military is very distinctive from the rest of other liberal democracies (Perlmutter, 2014). Latin America military proclaim herself as the saviour of the country in times of political controversies and rule. Besides, unlike other liberal democracies, the military perceives self as constituting an internal law and order and not merely safeguarding and protecting the people from external invasion. Contrary, the military in Western Europe, the US and other liberal democracies is entrenched under civilian control of defence forces.

Latin America countries stand out in the world stage as nations which have had a roller coaster ride of political progress (Harris, 2018). The transition towards political democracy and larger participation has been superseded by scenes of authoritarianism, regression and violation of fundamental human rights. This perspective is unique from the rest of the Western Europe democracies, except for a few cases such as those of prejudice against the French Canadian in Canada and segregation in the South America. Despite these felonies, there has been clear, consistent and rising progress towards more political inclusivity and the slow expansion of civil liberties and rights (Gwynne and Cristobal, 2014).

The roller coaster ride of the region’s politics has hampered the establishment of solid and broadly acceptable roles for interest groups, political parties, judicial systems, legislative bodies, and executives; and especially the establishment of the association between government and political bodies (Harris, 2018). The old communist regimes or the stability of Western institutions have not been part of Latin America politics. The intrigues of governmental and political institutions are hard to master especially for someone educated and brought up in authoritarian system. The difficulty equally emanates from the personalized nature of most Latin America politics. Policies and politics have focused on individuals since independence; such as Juan Peron of Argentina, Getulio Vargas of Brazil and Alberto Fujimori of Peru (Gwynne and Cristobal, 2014). In many cases, loyalty to such persons is vested above that of political or government institutions as outlined in the constitution.

The political cultural properties of authoritarianism, populism, corporatism and corruption and the contemporary view that polls are not the only gateway to power have inclined to corrupt the inviolability and primacy of political institutions as they are perceived in liberal democracies. As a result, political institutions are presented as malleable in the region and are not guiding and indispensable frameworks for spearheading policy and political debate that they are forms of liberal democracies (Harris, 2018).

Latin America’s Politics in Relation to the Rest of the World

Mexico and Colombia conducted presidential polls characterized by massive degree if popular participation, reduce levels of violence and peaceful dispensation of power to an opposition candidate. In the region, the challenges of hyperinflation, military coups, bank runs and rigged elections are almost becoming things of the past. Despite the success accrued, many national challenges such as corruption, inequality, crime and drug trafficking still remain unarticulated. However, the region is standing on the brink of becoming a global economic and political beacon provided it can comprehensively address issues of authoritarian regimes in some of her countries and pave the way for the development of hemispheric cooperation through integration (Wiarda, and Kline, 2018).

Latin America countries enjoy a Democratic Space in which all member countries of the Organisation of American States (OAS) have commitment to ensure the thrive of credible and fair elections, independent institutions, independent press respect for human rights and term limits. Cuba is not a signatory to this orientation and enthusiasts of politics have conceded that Cuba is seeking to dismantle this democratic rubric by replicating its authoritarianism in three nations including Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia (Harris, 2018).

Venezuela is the richest country in this sphere but yet is sinking down in recession, hyperinflation, repression and scarcity. This is happening alongside other tragedies including failed drug control which as a result is expelling large number of refugees. Nicaragua under the leadership of Ortega Murillo dismantled term limits and appropriated Venezuelan capital for the enrichment of his family business, alongside plundering pension money and resorting to cruel repression. In Bolivia, the violation if the constitution by Morales by seeking to run for presidency for a fourth consecutive round has inhibited political stability in the region. These observations are absolute violation of the Organisation of American States, which then is a setback to regional economic and political development (North et al., 2019).

The preposition that Latin America has a marginal function in global political space ought to be intently evaluated. Nineteen out of the fifty one founding countries of the United Nations hail from Latin America. The importance of Latin America escalated during the Cold War, shortly after the end of World War Two (Wiarda and Kline, 2018). Adherence to the UN framework induced economic and social developments, alongside human right agendas. On the eve of the Cold War, and irrespective of expansion in international integration and cooperation, the region experienced an epoch of conflict, instability, corruption and violence which hampered its relevance to world issues. Three decades later after the Cold War, the region has welcomed in a period of increased global relevance culminated by widespread democratization and regional integration; with notable exceptions of Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba. Relative to three decades ago, the region today uphold the human right agendas and have recognised the role of oversight authorities, and deeper commitment by political elites to endorse agendas of activists and Non-Governmental Organisations.

Latin America equally plays a crucial role as an agent of global peace. Based on the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the region is the only one in the globe without armed conflicts and has lowest military expenditure in relation to her GDP. Following the adoption of the Tlatelolco Treaty of 1969, Latin America ascended as the first segment free from nuclear weaponry. This has exemplified why the region’s states have peaceful diplomatic akin on prohibition negotiations, nuclear disarmament, and diplomatic leadership.

According to Fauriol (2017), most of Latin America countries have tended to reverse the direction of their public policies in ideological turn. The metamorphosis which the regional countries are undergoing is reflected through electoral successes based on neoliberal ideology. These successes have been realised within a short span of time, resulting into renewed economies. The turn into neoliberal ideology has granted a new psyche to the region’s political intrigues.

Latin America geopolitical atmosphere is important in analysing the socio-political choices for nations within this spectrum. Current discussions on development choices put into considerations neoliberal ideologies and regard the likelihood of conducting development projects within the rubric of extensive capitalist system which is globalized and interdependent. Alternative as suppressed by the premise that capital flows happen between three major subsystems comprising of the system namely the European Union, North America bloc and the Southeast Asia led by Japan Ruhl and Mcdonald, 2019). Provided these dynamics, both international and domestic levels, questions ascend concerning the choices existing for peripheral nations, especially concerning Latin America which has done well considering the sequence of interventionist policies surrounding the framework of a model of industrialization and protectionism by import.

On the global stage, majority of Latin America countries stand an impeccable chance of securing an opportunity to curb the United States’ hegemony amidst the rise of China as the world power. Some Latin America countries have formulated strategies for diversification to lead their political and economic relations. China’s global elevation has pursued two cleat forms of Latin America namely investment and trade; and secondly political influence and financial cooperation (Hillman and D'Agostino, 2016).

Trade between China and Latin America is less diversified relative to the rest of the globe, and is concentrated on agricultural products, energy and metals. Concentration is equally apparent in trade cooperation, considering that two-thirds of China’s imports Latino America are extracted from Brazil and 95% of this from Uruguay, Argentina and Chile combined. Such discrepancies in trade pattern give a vivid impression of the region’s vulnerability.

Latin America is contemporarily perceived as a great player in the interplays between world powers and secondary powers. The rise of new world powers has not levelled the latitude but rather elevates differentially worldwide. The larger divide between great powers and small powers; such as Latino American, the higher the likelihood that the former seek to conduct trade within themselves (Tickner, 2009). Consequently, international leadership presume a form of G-world whereas developing powers integrate together in groups such as the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS). The two strategies tend to consolidate along prospects rather than regions. In totality, Latino America countries have situated the globe in a more fluid and complex threshold than ever before (Riggirozzi and Tussie 2012).

Brazil is one of the member states of the BRICS group which has conceded to the formation of a development bank and a common currency reserve. This proposal was unfertile, resembling a diplomatic concession which has failed due to distinctions in common interest.

Marostica (2018) observe that Latino America stands on a new multipolar pedestal which has not ignited to multilateralism or profound regional cooperation. Emerging economies such as Brazil, Turkey or India were deemed to attain dominance over their spheres; consequently to make them the framework and building blocks for international leadership. But the ability to act with a unison voice in global matters has not matures beyond Europe. Organizations including Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR) which is constructed by the strings of the European Union do survive but yet majority have not dismantled internal norms and in turn institutionalise external relations.

The multipolar landscape has not induced forward effectiveness in multilateralism since distinctions within Latin America countries have risen to be less pronounced, making agreement more elusive. This tragedy is examinable in current discussions concerning climate change, global trade and local crises transpiring in Ukraine, Syria, and Venezuela. A multipolar landscape has also not facilitated efficient sub regionalism in which a few players would have fostered smooth cooperation (Harris, 2018). In Latin America, countries recognize there sharing of neighbourhood but not a house. The countries might join hands to cooperate together but will not sign the same lease. Fewer chances are that the region’s countries will unite to confront contemporary global issues, as regional consensus appears doomed by scarce state capacities and political polarization.

Muñoz (2018) note that during the Cold War, the United States did not view Latin America a strategic battleground with a few exceptions such as the Central America’s civil wars in 1980s and the Cuban Missiles in 1962. Offering training funding and intelligence to allied combatants or governments and periodically sending them troops to discipline rebellious states. Political tensions remained at the notch during the entire era of Cold War. Upon the discretization of communist threat, the end of bipolarity searched for a chance to better inter-American relations.

Latino America played a key role during the Cold War when the battle between the West and the East protracted to Latino America (Steinberg and VanDeveer, 2019). It was this time that Fidel Castro of Cuba was one of the key players in the war. In today’s statue, Cuba’s communism is not a global issue and Venezuela’s pseudo-communist authoritarianism is largely an internal Latin America prospect. Cuba and Venezuela on the world stage today stands out as critics of the US and her allies, deeming them as a potential security threat. The question as to whether leadership of the US should militarily intervene in Venezuela has remained unanswered and if the US will intervene, it will stage yet another bigger wave of political chaos in Venezuela.

Flores-Macías and Kreps (2013) argue that Latin America currently lack an active role in global diplomatic issues courtesy of a common voice towards the large world. Lack of a common voice ascends from the continuous struggle for democracy, growing inequality, economic decline, corruption and fight against illicit drugs. These intricacies have assimilated substantial energy from political systems, consequently leaving limited capital for external diplomacy. A substantive sum of energy has been applied to currently 33 preferential trade agreements within Latin America out of which the Pacific Alliance comprising of Chile, Mexico, Peru and Colombia is one of the most important.

Global processes of Latin American states have concentrated in two major domains namely; the strategies of some of the region’s bigger countries and the economic nexus with the external world. In the domain of politics, Brazil’s resilience to accrue a permanent city in the UN National Security Council is worthwhile (Steinberg and VanDeveer, 2019). Brazil in conjunction with Germany, Japan and India has worked toward this aim but so far derived only the consideration of some of the new parameters to Security Council reform without substantial results.

Latin America’s worldwide influence is therefore more felt on economic parameters. However, Burges (2013) noted that the issues of economics are inextricably interwoven with issues politics. Whereas economics are concerned with matters of wealth and equal distribution of resources, the disturbances in these economic issues have political ramifications. Being the member states of the G-20, Brazil, Argentina and Mexico play a fundamental function in the quests to achieve more coordination of policies in investment, trade and finance. Based on the axiom that the current US governance under President Donald Trump has challenged the fundamental principles of free trade, Latin America has turned to become a crucial ally of other members of the G20 in pursuit to protect the liberal economic order.

For this rationale, the European Union has reviewed her negotiations on a trade treaty with the members of MERCOSUR (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay). The potentials of this revival will greater relative to treaties with Japan and Canada; four times and eight times respectively. The UN concluded this revival as part of the response against President Trump’s protectionist policies (Tulchin, 2016).

Latin America countries currently lack a common approach to global issues. Some governments have oriented their priority to the United States even if Washington does not perceive this. On the Other hand, Venezuela and Cubs have deemed the United States of America as a potential security threat with others for instance Colombia regarding the US as strategic and vital ally. Considering the uncertainty if the current US, the future of inter-America ties are classifiable into three main policy areas namely; economy, security and transnational issues which may need the architecture of regional governance (Sieder, Schjolden and Angell, 2016).

Territorial conflicts either intrastate or inter-state are likely to arise sporadically. Modern warfare are not expected in Latin America region and militarized inter-state feuds are not likely to rapture, but state collapses and failure are potentials which cannot be ruled out. Haiti exhibit this potential and Cuba especially in case her regime breaks down. The conflicts may be triggered by natural calamities to bad leadership and governance which induces secessionist demands; which consequently will result into failed states. The promotion if political stability to curb power vacuum and civil wars is likely to pose one of the most tremendous challenges in inter-American diplomacy (Tomes, 2014).

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Conclusion

In conclusion, Latin America’s profile in global issues is marked by America’s historical dominion over the region and its geographical situation away from various mainstream matters of global concern. The United States interventionist policies in conjunction with the region are past and present combat against revolutionary and leftist ideologies, quests to halt authoritarianism and struggle towards attainment of populism, democracy and economic stability, drug control and counter-terrorism have greatly defined Latin America externally. Relative to the rest of the world, Latin America is the beacon of peace, and has enjoyed good relations within and without themselves. As discussed in this study, Latin America has contemporarily played various roles in the stage of global politics, especially as a result of its interplays with Western Europe, the United States and China. This study acknowledges the scholarly gap on the influence Latin America has on Africa and recommend this as an area for future studies.

References

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