In your article, “Venezuela Proposes Food Crisis Fund at Controversial Trans-Atlantic Summit” (May 20), James Suggett discusses the links being formed between Latin American countries and the European Union (EU) at the two-day summit in Lima. The meeting suggested the basis for a working relationship between the EU and participating Latin American countries, which is more than can be said about current inter-American relations. Indeed, Washington’s relationship with the region is deteriorating proportionally to the decline of its credibility in the region. The opportunity to develop a productive hemispheric partnership to overcome the harmful neoliberal policies of the 90s was lost in self-serving posturing by State Department and Treasury officials.
For example, the Summit of the Americas held in November 2005 failed to constructively alter hemispheric ties between the two regions over the issue of U.S. insistence on making no concessions on its subsidized agriculture. It was on that occasion that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez attended the People’s Summit in Mar de Plata to explicitly protest Bush’s proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and its subsequent Summit of the Americas. It is no exaggeration to say that the U.S. needs to at least find a better way to keep Latin American leaders engaged at the discussion table as the EU at least managed to do in Lima.
COHA Research Associate Susan Schaller