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Latin America through the prism of the current geopolitical confrontation: “left turn” and new canal

On June 5 2015, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia is not observing Latin America through the prism of the current geopolitical confrontation. He said that exactly when EU and Latin American parliamentarians were completing their joint assembly, where the Latin American MPs disappointed the US and the EU by objecting to a resolution against Russia and Venezuela.

Since the start of the “left turn” in Latin America, the central and southern parts of the western hemisphere have become a homefront for Russia in its political and economic opposition to the United States’ “new world order.” Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador have joined the oil Russian (Soviet) allies, Cuba and Nicaragua and have formed ALBA, a bloc that also involves three small Caribbean republics and is open for all Latin American nations with leftist presidents.

Big South American nations, like Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Chile, are being ruled by left-of-center presidents, who are trying to develop mutually beneficial relations with Russia without quarreling with the United States. Uruguay also has a leftist president. Paraguay has impeached an advocate of social justice, Chile has elected a rightist president after a long rule of leftists. Only Columbia has never been ruled by left-wing forces, but its right-wing president rules only part of his country, with the rest controlled by guerrillas. This gives us grounds to call Columbia “South American Ukraine.”

In Central America, the “left turn” is not as obvious. Besides Cuba and Nicaragua, only Salvador and Mexico have left-wing governments. Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama and Dominican Republic have mostly left-of-center rulers, but they do not seem to be very eager to cooperate with Russia as the Big Brother is too close!

Strange as it may seem, small Costa Rica has become the biggest barrier to Russia’s geopolitical project in Latin America. Its left-of-center president Luis Guillermo Solis has complained to the UN and the Hague Court that Nicaragua has broken the territorial integrity of his country. In the meantime, one of the most ardent opponents of the Somoza regime, Eden Pastora, is building border fortifications on the river separating Nicaragua from Costa Rica. The latter has no army and can show no resistance to the well-trained and armed Nicaraguan troops. Instead, it has professional diplomats who can cause very big problems to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his allies, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.

The point is that Costa Rica claims the territory where Nicaragua is going to build a canal. This facility is supposed to be constructed by the Chinese and to be guarded by the Russians. But until Nicaragua and Costa Rica have settled their disputes, this project seems to be problematic. Costa Rica is traditionally oriented towards the United States and will certainly seek support from the Americans, who will hardly wish to see one more Panama Canal in the region.

Georgy Kolarov, EADaily observer for Latin America

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