Representatives from 33 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean just finished meeting in Brazil. By all accounts, the atmosphere was convivial.
Believe it or not, this “Rio Group” summit marked first time that such a large regional event has occurred without the presence of the United States. So what does this mean for the hemisphere? It depends on who you ask.
The AP reports that President Lula da Silva of Brazil said:
In the middle of an unprecedented global crisis, our countries are discovering that they aren’t part of the problem,” Mr. da Silva said. “They can and should be fundamental players in the solution [...]
There was a time when our friend Chavez was all alone. Who would have imagined 10 years ago our beloved Evo Morales as president? Would would have thought that a liberation theology bishop could become Paraguay’s president?
President Chavez said:
The important thing is that we are here together, without the patronage of the empire. The way is beginning, a new way – our way from the South.
And of course, Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington had this commentary to add:
This is a healthy development and should not be seen as a rejection of the U.S. On the contrary, Latin America wants to deal with the U.S. and other major world powers, but it wants to do so on more equal terms than in the past.