12/11/2006 11:28 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Washington's "Cold War" in Latin America Takes Another Blow at South American Summit

By Mark Weisbrot

The Bush Administration has pursued a long-term strategy of trying to "isolate" Venezuela from its neighbors, and gather allies against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, in a repetition of Washington's Cold War approach of the 1980s and previously. This strategy took another hit this weekend at the South American summit in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where only one of the Latin American leaders who had bad relations with Chávez made peace. President Alan García of Peru had since this past summer traded a number of insults with Chávez and the two countries had recalled their ambassadors. García on Saturday:

"The two of us are well-mannered and cordial people, so any kind of argument, any previously made statements, remain a closed chapter," García told Peru's Radioprogramas from Cochabamba, Bolivia, where the second South American Community of Nations summit was held. He said that he felt "good chemistry" with Chávez.

Later the same day in Peru, Ecuador's President-elect Rafael Correa, speaking to reporters at the presidential palace where he met with García, said his country's relations with Peru were at their best ever."

Beginning last May, the major US media ran a series of lengthy articles about how a number of inter-American conflicts among Latin American countries (Bolivia with Brazil and Argentina over natural gas, Venezuela with Peru and Mexico, Uruguay and Argentina) would overwhelm any attempts at Latin American unity as a counterweight to the United States' historically powerful influence in the region. Chávez was portrayed as a particularly divisive influence. The summit in Cochabamba indicates that the trends toward increasing regional co-operation, political independence, and economic integration are still growing.