Is a United States of the South in the Making?

Undersecretary of Council for the Laity Views Latin American Integration

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ROME, APRIL 2, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The future of Latin America depends on its capacity to make progress in the process of integration, including the possibility of a South American confederation, says a Vatican official.



Guzmán Carriquiry Lecour, undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, developed his thesis in a book entitled "A Challenge for Latin America" ("Una Scommessa per l'America Latina"). Published by Le Lettere, it was presented to the Italian Senate last week.

"To speak of Latin America means to recognize ourselves in a singular fraternity that is based on common origins," said Carriquiry, a native of Uruguay. He said that the process of integration should not just be based on free trade treaties, but also on the cultural wealth of Latin America's peoples.

"Latin America should say 'enough' to the litany of useless complaints, it must stop regarding itself as the 'victim' that leads it to blame others for its failures," he insisted.

"At the same time, it must be careful not to deny its Ibero-Indo-American and Christian roots, so as not to fall into the quagmire of unrestrained capitalism," he cautioned.

In this context, the council undersecretary considers of utmost importance the study of Latin America's relations with the United States. "All spent ideological clashes between the United States and Latin America are sterile," he stressed.

"Latin America needs the United States in a global framework of serious and worthy relations," he said. "In this connection, it will be interesting to see how Washington intends to involve itself in ALCA [Free Trade Area of the Americas], which for Latin America would mean access to the most important market in the world."

"Will the champions of free trade maintain customs barriers against our products?" he asked. "More than aid, Latin America needs free access to the markets, abolishing protectionism."

"At the same time, it is clear that to negotiate ALCA, Latin Americans will have to be commercially integrated; otherwise it will seem to be a case of many dwarfs before a giant," he said.

Carriquiry believes that Mercosur, the South American common market, has a key role to pay in consolidating the Brazil-Argentine axis, in order to galvanize other states around it.

He also highlighted the key contribution that believers must make to this process.

"Our roots are Christian," he said, "Our culture is Christian. Catholicism will be the decisive factor for national construction and for Latin America's integration in world globalization."