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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last week called for a NATO-like alliance of various South and Central American countries, as a bulwark against what he perceives to be the imperialism of the United States.
The anti-U.S. leader said that Nicaragua, Bolivia, Cuba and Dominica should create a united military alliance: “If the U.S. threatens one of us, it threatens all of us. We will respond as one” (BBC).
The five countries are already part of the trade alliance known as the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, named after South America’s independence leader, Simon Bolivar.
Mr. Chavez insists the U.S. poses a serious threat to the region. He recently accused Washington of attempting to destabilize the region via closer ties with Colombia. He even also suggested that the United States and Colombia were cohorts in an attempt to assassinate him, and/or initiate a military confrontation with Venezuela.
At the same conference, Mr. Chavez suggested that the countries in the region should remove their billions of dollars of international reserves from U.S. banks, suggesting that the collapse of the U.S. dollar and economy was imminent.
“We should start to bring our reserves here,” Mr. Chavez said. “Why does that money have to be in the north? You can’t put all your eggs in one basket” (International Herald Tribune).
According to the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Venezuela ranks 34th in reserves of foreign exchange and gold, ahead of such countries as Denmark, the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands. (Other nations in the potential trade alliance are well down the list and would not likely have a great impact.)
Trade alliances created to “compete,” “counter” or “balance” the U.S. are not new. Yet these are increasingly popular and powerful.
Consider for example the European Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN (and its extension to “ASEAN-plus three” or the “East Asia Summit”). Underneath any trade-alliance is the possibility or opportunity for a military alliance.
Mr. Chavez for the moment appears to be the most vocal for such in the South/Central American region.