A partnership of HuffPost and the

The United Countries Of The Americas?

I'm on my annual global adventure and thus far have posted on:

- "Japan: Seven Months After the Cataclysm," and

- "A Simple Solution for Europe."

This current tour through Brazil, Argentina and Peru brought to mind an obvious future for the region south of the USA. I have been through many of the cities and environs of these 33 nations over the past few decades, and on this trip finally organized in my mind something I have long been wondering about: a United Countries of the Americas.

They all speak Spanish, except for Brazil, where the language is Portuguese, and some of those island communities, where English and French come into play. However, Spanish is the only language for the key countries (save for Brazil). I might note, though, that two of the PIIGS (those countries pulling down Europe) are Spain and Portugal.

Simon Bolivar 200 years ago hinted about some Spanish American alliance. Then, a century ago, there was some talk of a Pan American Union.

The Organization of American States (OAS) was created a half century ago next month. There are 35 members, including the USA and Canada. The usual politics regarding Cuba and Honduras occupy their time, but the fact of the matter is that the United States dominates. Plus, OAS has Spanish, English, Portuguese and French as official languages.

Almost no one realizes that the Union of South American Nations (USAN) came into force a few months ago. Colombian former Foreign Minister Maria Emma Mejia is the Secretary General, and headquarters are in Ecuador. They have a population of just about 400 million and an area twice that of either USA or China, and four times the European Union.

This is certainly a formidable political bloc, and they are also developing a military presence. I ask, though, why??? Spend your money on infrastructure and the people. Be as smart as Japan, and, until recently, China. Let the USA protect the world. If past history is any indicator, you can count on us. We don't want to conquer you anymore.

Okay, so as difficult as it will be for the USAN to attain a kind of solidarity, I ask a second question: Why not also include Mexico, Central America and those viable island states? The United Countries of the Americas (UCA) would then have a population of 500 million and a million more square miles.

What is lacking is a Simon Bolivar. The only dominating leader is Cesar Chevez, and, fortunately enough for the future of UCA, he has colon cancer and will soon recede. Pele? Greatest soccer player of all time, not a politician, plus he is my age... old. No Evita (although she never held any office) nor Che Guevara-type.

Faced with the reality that the Soviet Union is no more, China could well also be headed in that direction some day, and a struggling European Union, why would any rational mind even consider anything like a UCA today? For one, if Asia decides to integrate, that could become a trigger. There is the Asia Cooperation Dialogue of 18 nations formed in 2002. But dialogue?

So a simple answer to the title question is a resounding no because of:

- no compelling reason why an encompassing alliance like this would form today,

- no obvious leader, and

- the dominance of Brazil, which speaks a different language from the rest.

As a final aside, one unexpected surprise was the appearance of several Best 100 World Restaurants in South America. Sao Paul has three, and I went to #7 D.O.M. and #74 Mani, while Lima has two, where I enjoyed meals at #42 Astrid Y Gaston and #87 Malabar. You can only be impressed with the vitality of cuisine in this part of the world when there is only one such restaurant each in San Francisco (#75 Coi) and Los Angeles (#84 The Bazaar), and that French Laundry in Yountville is only #56.

Anyway, after just experiencing what I think is the greatest city on planet Earth, Rio, the most extraordinary natural wonder, Iguassu Falls, and mesmerized by the awe of Machu Picchu, something greater for this physically endowed and linguistically congruent portion of the World, which has never before ruled the globe, is a conception worthy of reflection by the future generations of Mexico, Central America, South American and the Caribbean.