Foreign Policy Blogs

Expanding Influence of the Southern Hemisphere, but Under Whose Lead?

Countries within the Southern Hemisphere are on the move.

This past weekend member states of UNASUR and the African Union met on Margarita Island, Venezuela, in order to strengthen ties between their countries and continents. One of the ideas proposed by President Hugo Chávez, as well as Moammar Gadhafi, of Libya, is an alliance among countries in the South, a southern NATO of sorts. More information can be found in this NPR story.

Meanwhile, a major outcome of the G-20 in Pittsburgh last week was the acceptance that it will now serve as the world’s major economic organization. This grants greater recognition to other nations such as Brazil and India, whose economies and populations are significant and are yielding greater influence. The G-8, organized in 1975, now fails to represent the demographic and economic realities of the 21st century. The expanded set of countries accounts for 5/6 of global GDP and 2/3 of its population.

Chávez continues efforts to position himself as a leader of countries opposing the historical dominance of the United States and Europe. He is charismatic and can be inspiring, but one wonders if he is truly the best man to lead the charge in this cause?

Brazil’s population and GDP make it the rising South American powerhouse, while Venezuela’s clout rises and falls with the price of oil. Over the long-term it seems that Brazil is in a better position, as its economic strength is based on diversified sources, rather than relying solely on global demand for energy. Notably, while the Presidents of Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina all traveled to the UN General Assembly last week, only Lula and Kirchner continued on to Pittsburgh.



David D. Sussman

David D. Sussman is currently a PhD Candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy (Tufts University), in Boston, Massachusetts. Serving as a fellow at the Feinstein International Center, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study the lives of Colombian refugees and economic migrants in Caracas, Venezuela. David has worked on a variety of migrant issues that include the health of displaced persons, domestic resettlement of refugees, and structured labor-migration programs. He holds a Masters in International Relations from the Fletcher School, where he studied the integration of Somali and Salvadoran immigrants. David has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and is fluent in Spanish. He has lived in Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Venezuela, and also traveled throughout Latin America. In his free time David enjoys reading up on international news, playing soccer, cooking arepas, and dancing salsa casino. Areas of Focus: Latin America; Migration; Venezuela.