Belt and Road spreads in US ‘backyard’ – Latin America and the Caribbean

Introduction

The US has long considered Latin America as “America’s Backyard” – its exclusive neo-colonial zone following decline of European colonial powers. Since 1823, the “Monroe Doctrine” and US actions over the past 2 centuries to subjugate Latin America and the Caribbean, have made it clear that the US was, and still is determined to ruthlessly establish and maintain itself as the absolute hegemon in the region.

However, rapid changes in the world economy, in particular, the emergence of China and the Belt and Road Initiative, have and continue to transform the strategic strength of the US empire. The US is now clearly in fundamental decline.

Perhaps the clearest demonstration of this is the increasing role of the China and the BRI in Latin America and the Caribbean. China’s relations with the region have evolved far beyond the point of being a mere incipient challenge to the existing order. To compound this for the US regime, a growing wave of leftist, anti-US political movements and election outcomes are sweeping the Latin America and the Caribbean region.

The following consists of extracts from the Asia Times, 8 January 2022.

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Energy projects have become a major target of Chinese investment in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), with more than a dozen energy infrastructue projects with an average investment of over US$1 billion. Various renewable energy projects are currently underway, as are negotiations to build a new nuclear power plant in Argentina

As of December 2021, 19 out of 33 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean had signed up for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In addition to Cuba, they include Jamaica and six other island states in the Caribbean; El Salvador, Costa Rica and Panama in Central America; and Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Uruguay in South America.

But some of China’s biggest Latin American investment partners – notably Brazil, Argentina and Mexico – have not yet formally signed up to the BRI.

Brazil has received the most Chinese attention in the region, but investments and infrastructure project loans directed at Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia and Mexico have also been significant.

China is now the largest trading partner of Brazil, Argentina and most of the rest of South America – the exceptions being Colombia, Ecuador and the Guianas.

China – Latin America-Caribbean Forum

On December 3, 2021, the third ministers’ meeting of the China-CELAC Forum was held in the form of a video conference.

Founded in 2011, CELAC (Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y del Caribe or, in English, Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) is an association for dialogue among its 33 members and with other countries and regional groupings including the European Union, China, the Russian Federation, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, Turkey, the Republic of Korea and Japan.

The ministers adopted the “China-CELAC Joint Action Plan for Cooperation in Key Areas (2022-2024)”, a long and detailed document covering:

  • Political and Security Cooperation
  • Trade and Investment
  • Finance
  • Agriculture and Food
  • Science and Technology Innovation
  • Industry and Information Technology
  • Aviation and Aerospace
  • Energy and Resources
  • Tourism
  • Customs and Taxes
  • Infrastructures in the Area of Quality
  • High-Quality Infrastructure Cooperation
  • Public Health
  • Sustainable Development and Eradication of Poverty
  • Culture, Art and Sports
  • Higher Education, Think Tanks and Young People
  • Media and Communications
  • Local and Community Exchanges
  • Sustainable Development
  • International Affairs and Subregional and Interregional Cooperation

Cuba and the Belt & Road

In October 2021, Cuba became a member of the BRI Energy Partnership. Established in 2019 to promote cooperation in renewable energy, it now has 32 members in Asia-Pacific, Central and South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America.

On December 25, 2021, Cuba and China signed a cooperation plan for the joint promotion of the BRI, after formally joining Belt & Road in 2018. The cooperation plan, in the words of China’s Global Times, clarifies the “key… projects for China and Cuba … including infrastructure, technology, culture, education, tourism, energy, communications and biotechnology, which are in line with Cuba’s development plans for the short and long term.”

The US trade embargo has held down the Cuban economy since 1960. As an instrument of regime change, the embargo has failed. As a means of forcing the Cuban people into poverty unless and until they kowtow to the US, it has so far succeeded.

China Environment editors:

Now China and the BRI are giving Cuba (and all the Latin American and Caribbean countries) a chance for economic development without American hegemonic participation (i.e. control).


SOURCE: Asia Times, 8 January 2022.
https://asiatimes.com/2022/01/belt-road-encircles-latin-america-and-the-caribbean/?fbclid=IwAR38kSqaJF1nZWoYLimPaBq23zahukXIEJwit2GGw-XTPYVQYEa34PW0cAI

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