On Wednesday, February 7th Rex Tillerson returned from a week-long trip to Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Jamaica warning in dark terms the six Latin American nations, which will be holding presidential elections this year, of the existential danger posed to them by China and Russia’s increasing involvement in their economies and political affairs respectively. Rather aggressively, he insisted that “Latin America does not need new imperial powers that seek only to benefit their own people”. Taking particular aim at China and at what he described its predatory trading practices he repeated over and over: “China’s offers always come at a price – usually in the form of state-led investments carried out by imported Chinese labor, onerous loans and unsustainable debt. The China model regularly includes extracting precious resources to feed its own economy, with disregard for the laws of the land or human rights”. It should be noted that currently, China is the largest trading partner of Chile, Argentina, Brazil and Peru and in January, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi met in Chile with 33 members of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States to invite them to join in China’s “Belt and Road” mega free trade initiative – notably excluding the United States. For the four year period of 2015 and 2019 China is now on course to pump 250 billion Dollars in direct investment and 500 billion Dollars in trade into Latin American Economies which are finding it virtually impossible to secure traditional international financing because of poor governance, corruption and disastrous economic policies. This, now makes China their only option to get desperately needed roads, railways and ports which are then used by China to transport raw material to feed its growing economy and population!
Mr. Tillerson also had extremely harsh words for Russia, saying that Russia’s growing destructive interference in elections and political dynamics in the region – principally through cyber attacks, hackers and trolls in social networks – is extremely alarming. According to him, Russia is focused on destabilizing democratic institutions and promoting regimes unfriendly to the U.S. Then, he alarmingly followed that up by threatening that “on occasion we have forgotten the Monroe Doctrine and what it has meant for our hemisphere. It is now as important today as it has been in the past… to deal with the threats which now present themselves in Latin America”. His ominous reference is to the Roosevelt Corollary of 1904 to the Monroe Doctrine which holds: “Chronic wrongdoing, or an impotence which results in a general loosening of the ties of civilized society, may on the American Continent, as elsewhere, ultimately require intervention by some civilized nation, and in the Western Hemisphere the adherence of the United States to the Monroe Doctrine may force the United States, however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to the exercise of an international police power!”
Are we now to see U.S. Marines storming the capitals of Latin American Republics?
It is very clear that the United States perceives a complicated world scenario with two major problems that prevent it from achieving its imperialist purposes. These two problems are called Russia and China. On the one hand Russia is playing a decisive role in international politics by wanting to intervene in the electoral processes of different regions of the world. It is known that Russia intervened in the presidential elections of the United States and that would be intervening in the pre-electoral campaigns for president through a left-wing political party in Mexico, which represents a threat to the interests of the United States in our country and in Latin America. Likewise, China has increased its commercial presence in the region, taking advantage of President Trump's disagreements regarding its commercial partners that seek to continue with its economic stability and commercial exchange. However, the United States has a different perception of how commercial relations with its partners should be. Apparently, some measures such as the Monroe Doctrine seem to emerge as a means of control of the United States to confront its two great rivals internationally and send them a clear message of who is responsible for setting the rules of the game.
By: Dr. Juan Carlos Botello and Dr. Werner G.C. Voigt, (Independent external contributor)