Significant regional integration efforts, independent from the United States, have been among the most striking developments in Latin America and the Caribbean this century. The most ambitious of these projects is CELAC – the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States – founded at a summit in Caracas, Venezuela in December 2011. In conjunction with the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of our America (ALBA) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), there now exist very serious, regionally distinct, alternatives to both the existing Organization of American States (OAS), for decades dominated by the United States, and the now moribund (and also U.S.-dominated) trade agreement, the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
The European Union (EU) was for many years a key source of inspiration for regional integration in Latin America and the Caribbean. Understandably then, the current crisis in the EU, particularly in the Eurozone countries, might be expected to give pause to regionalist enthusiasm in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, the fundamental dynamics in the two regional projects are completely different. The EU is trying to build a regional bloc through neoliberal policies. By contrast, the new regionalism in Latin America and the Caribbean has emerged as a challenge to neoliberalism. We can anticipate a continuation of efforts to integrate the economies of Latin America and the Caribbean no matter how the Eurozone crisis plays out.
These are the first two paragraphs of an article published, August 30, in e-International Relations.