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Latin America and the rebirth of the “Third World”

Latin America and the rebirth of the “Third World”

Quito, (Prensa Latina)European colonialism in America took advantage of Spain in almost the entire continental territory, of Portugal in what is now Brazil, while the Caribbean was a zone in dispute between the colonial powers.

In any case, after the independence of the United States in (1776), the independence processes in Latin America and the Caribbean, between1804-1824, marked the historical end of European colonialism on the continent, although some territories remainedawaiting (such as the Guyanas or Malvinas), as well as Cuba and Puerto Rico, which became independent in 1898.

On the other hand, although European colonialization of Africa had a long previous history, it was the Berlin Conference of 1884 that resolved the division of this continent among the European imperialisms of the time, under the assumption of avoiding conflicts between them.

The beneficiaries were, in order: France, United Kingdom, Portugal, Germany,Belgium, Italy and Spain. Consequently, the independence processes of almost all the countries, better defined as decolonization of Africa, only took place from the 50s and extended until the 90s of the 20thCentury. Several of those processes were bloody.

The liberation of Latin American countries, despite the external dependency that occurred during the 19th (United Kingdom) and 20th (United States) Centuries, permitted the construction of National States, the development of sovereign policies in different moments and the modernization of the economies with certain autonomy. It was not so in all of Africa, because its delayed liberation affected general progress.

In both continents, European colonization marked the conditions for underdevelopment, dependency and deep internal social divisions in almost all the countries. But, likewise, since the birth of the “Third World”, in the Bandung Conference (Indonesia, 1955), which inaugurated the Movement of Non-aligned countries, a long process of accumulation of forces, wills, consciences and policies took root, and it has driven the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America to demand respect for their sovereignty, independence and autonomy, with the aim of building their own economic systems and political regimes.

Also, the “Cold War”, which Manicheally divided the world between those who have “freedom” and “democracy”, versus those of “communist slavery”, was a long-lasting obstacle. A duality built by the USA with the support of the Western European capitalist powers, who for decades justified direct or indirect interventionism in the “underdeveloped” countries to impose their interests.

The end of the Cold War and the triumph of globalization

The duality of the world created by the Cold War collapsed with the fall of Soviet and Eastern European socialism. Transnational globalization seemed triumphant forever. But, the rise of China, Russia, the BRICS and the “Third World” countries, which assert themselves as never before since the beginning of the 21stCentury, has once again altered the world map. Today, the traditional Western powers cannot impose, as they did in the immediate past, their vision and interests.

This situation is the result of a set of contemporary historical processes, among which the following are worth highlighting: the experiences of interventionism have accumulated growing rejection and resistance in the people; the advancement of education and the technological progress of communications spread citizen-awareness, information and knowledge available to all, making deception impossible or difficult; economic modernization and material progress favor autonomous decisions and have expanded relations between countries and diversified “dependencies”; markets articulate new relationships; social movements and progressive and democratic forces (usually identified with the Left) emerge, andare committed to a different society; governments are also formed with projects aimed at strengthening sovereignty; and in Latin America regional identity is growing.

The people rebel

Under these new conditions of world development, the old colonial powers are being challenged. Very recently, unprecedented events accumulated: French President Emmanuel Macron, traveling through four African countries (former colonies), said he will reduce the military presence, questioning the rapprochement with Russia and China; but, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Felix Tshisekedi confronted him, demanding that he be respectful and said that “the way Europe treats us has to change”; at the same time street protests against France multiplied in Western and Northern Africa; and, similarly, in Namibia, President Hage Gaeingob criticized the German ambassador for his claim about the greater presence of Chinese rather than Germans in the country.

With singular audacity, Republican Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar warned the Argentine government that if it builds Chinese fighter planes, the US will not sit idly by in the face of this “pact with the devil” and threatened that “there are two worlds, the free world and the world of slaves, I hope that Argentines remain in the free world”, something Argentina´s Government House spokespeople have had to answer.

With even greater audacity, Republicans Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and John Kennedy (Louisiana) have proposed that the US Executive authorize the use of armed forces to intervene in Mexico against drug trafficking, to which President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has replied with words that represent the broad feelings of Latin American people. He criticized the “mania” and “bad habit” of the US of “considering itself the government of the world”; he added: “But, it is even worse that they want to use military force to intervene in the public life of another country. That is, invade another country with the excuse that they are going after terrorist drug traffickers. Of course, this is pure propaganda. However, we must reject all of these claims of pretended interventionism”; and, he concluded by stating: “Mexico is not a protectorate of the United States. Mexico is a free, independent, sovereign country. We do not take orders from anyone”.

The pressures on Latin America to take sides in the war in Ukraine also want to define the region in favor of the interests of the Western world, while what is at stake in these lands is to preserve its status as a Zone of Peace, without being defined by any of the powers that act in a conflict alien to Latin American sovereignty interests, although the war has already deserved regional condemnation.

No rush, but no pause

There is a take-off, still slow, but historically unstoppable, of the dependent countries, which has been possible due to the rupture of the hegemony of the West and the formation of a multipolar world.

In this nascent Mundus Novus of the 21st Century, the ideals of Bandung take strength and deserve to be renewed, something which creates conditions for the rapprochement of Latin America with the other nations of the Third World, for the purpose of creating a geopolitical front that also affects the international arenas, based on new forms of political integration for the defense of sovereignty, against the intentions of the Western powers to divide the world, once again, between the supposed bloc of “democracy” and the diabolic sphere of regions of “authoritarianism”.


*Ecuadorean historian and analyst.

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