quarta-feira, agosto 05, 2009

483) Editorial do Financial Times sobre Brasil e America Latina

A hollow cone
Financial Times, August 4 2009 19:23

A Latin America asimmer with tension between Venezuela and Colombia is nothing new. Nor, sadly, is the region's recent display of creeping authoritarianism, caudillos, and a coup d'état. Hopes for a new dawn of democracy and development are slowly morphing into resignation at a return to the past.
Bogotá has sparked the easily ignited wrath of Hugo Chávez, Venezuela's president, by offering the US military Colombian replacements for Ecuador's Manta base. Mr Chávez is threatening to cut trade relations. Similar threats have proved empty in the past, but Colombia is wise to take them seriously: Venezuela is its second largest export market, and Mr Chávez is not a leader to mind the cost to his own people of a trade war with a neighbour he despises.
But north Andean skirmishes are just a symptom of a deeper problem: Latin America's inability to get out of the rut in which it has been stuck for too long, held back in its development by strongmen and internecine rivalries.
US influence in the region is nowadays limited to anti-narcotics efforts that at best soften the effects of its own futile "war on drugs". Other policy areas are neglected because of US priorities elsewhere or self-inflicted impotence earned by past US conduct.
US neglect could have proved benign -- more so, certainly, than the activism that propped up right-wing dictatorships from Chile to Guatemala. But Latin America's opportunity to shape its own destiny will be stillborn until one of its constituent nations takes up the mantle of regional leadership.
Mexico, battered by repeated crises, is too bound up with its northern neighbour to lead its southern ones. Colombia is mired in a battle against left-wing insurgents and narco-traffickers. The real alternative to cheap populism comes from pragmatic left-of-centre leaders in the southern cone: Chile's Michelle Bachelet and Brazil's Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva demonstrate better ways of being on the left than Mr Chávez's Bolivarian revolution.
Chile lacks critical mass to pull the region with it; however, Mr Lula da Silva chooses not to. His domestic achievements are undeniable and his efforts to play a global role impressive, but regional policy is lost in the cracks.
The result is a continent adrift -- economic integration proceeds at snail's pace -- and a leadership vacuum in which Mr Chávez grows from mere nuisance to dangerous troublemaker.
Leading by example is necessary, but not sufficient. Brazil must help put Latin America on a road to the future, or no one will.

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