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Volume 65 / Social Sciences

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: SOUTH AMERICA (except Brazil)


ALDO C. VACS, Professor of Government, Skidmore College

THE PUBLICATIONS ON THE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS of the South American countries (except Brazil) reviewed in this section continue to demonstrate a high level of interest in nontraditional topics. Analyses of the processes of integration, impact of free trade agreements, relations with extra-hemispheric and global organizations, and the new approaches to regional security continue to predominate in the literature. The rise and consolidation in power of a number of nationalist populist and left-of-center governments has also generated new concerns about the evolution of relations with the US and the possibility of intraregional conflicts while resulting in the need to formulate and implement common policies aimed at promoting democratic stability and peaceful relations in the region. Among the more traditional issues addressed in recent foreign policy studies are territorial disputes and historical confrontations. However, the number of works of this kind has declined, and the analyses have become less antagonistic and more aimed at proposing negotiated solutions. Studies on bilateral relations continue to be focused on neighboring countries and the US, but there has been a noticeable increase in studies dealing with European countries and organizations, China and Japan, and Africa. As in the past, most of the publications on international relations are still coming from the largest countries in the region, but there has been an important increase in publications from smaller countries and a distinct shift from a focus on the policies of individual countries to an emphasis on multilateral relations and international organizations.

A substantial number of publications are devoted to international economic issues, particularly the analysis of processes of regional and subregional integration and discussions of the negotiation of free trade agreements and their impact. Among those studies related to regional economic integration, a majority are concentrated on Mercosur (Common Market of the South) and the Andean Community. The research on Mercosur has been focused on the recent institutional evolution and enlargement of the market (item #bi2008000292#), the role of presidents and parliaments in its consolidation (items #bi2008000549#, #bi2008000461#, #bi2008000462# and #bi2005003191#), and on exploring the possibilities of converting it from a free trade area to a customs union (item #bi2008000459#) and creating a common currency (item #bi2008000296#). Other works are focused on the Andean Community, analyzing its development (item #bi2005004308#) and exploring the prospects for cooperation that it creates (item #bi2008000293#). Another political economic topic that has generated great interest during this period is the possibility and convenience of signing free trade agreements with the US and creating a Free Trade Area of the Americas. In most cases, authors coincided in foreseeing negative consequences for their countries and the region (items #bi2008000294#, #bi2008000457#, #bi2008000471#, and #bi2008000540#), or had mixed opinions about the opportunity to sign these agreements (items #bi2008000286# and #bi2008000465#). One issue that became the focus of renewed attention was the establishment of relations with extrahemispheric organizations, particularly the EU, and its advantages for the region (items #bi2008000541#, #bi2008000284#, and #bi2006002029#).

In security terms, most of the attention has been concentrated on Colombia's internal conflict and relations with the US (items #bi2008000291#, #bi2008000295#, and #bi2008000544#), as well as its impact on the region, particularly on the security of the neighboring countries (items #bi2008000280#, #bi2008000281#, #bi2008000469#, and #bi2008000550#). In most cases, the authors criticize the growing militarization of the conflict and the role of the US while stating their concern with the spillover effects of the Colombian conflict on neighboring countries. Traditional security issues and territorial disputes are no longer the focus of attention of most analysts, particularly as the Argentine-Chilean, Ecuadorean-Peruvian, and other conflictive situations appear to have been resolved peacefully. The main exception is the Bolivian-Chilean dispute over the perennial demands by Bolivia to regain access to the Pacific Ocean. This problem continues to generate discussions both on the Bolivian (item #bi2008000298#) and Chilean (items #bi2008000289#, #bi2008000468#, #bi2008000470#, and #bi2008000547#) sides, while in some cases the studies also include the role of the third actor historically involved in the dispute, Peru (items #bi2008000548# and #bi2007005140#). Recently the rise of national populism in Bolivia and the issue of the exportation of Bolivian natural gas seem to have generated a worsening of relations, although both sides still insist that they are looking for a peaceful resolution of the dispute.

The relations between individual countries and regional organizations with extrahemispheric counterparts have also generated some interesting analyses focused on reviewing the evolution of these relations and exploring the opportunities for mutually advantageous links. In this regard, the focus of attention seems to be on relations with the EU (items #bi2008000541#, #bi2008000284#, and #bi2006002029#); Asian organizations and countries, particularly Japan and China whose economic importance is recognized (items #bi2007000186#, #bi2008000297#, and #bi2008000542#); and, in the case of Argentina, on relations with Africa (items #bi2008000287# and #bi2008000290#).

A number of studies are also devoted to the historical and more recent evolution of the foreign policies of some countries in the region, including Argentina (items #bi2008000283#, #bi2007005109#, and #bi2007000427#), Bolivia (item #bi2008000451#), Colombia (items #bi2006001888# and #bi2008000454#), Ecuador (item #bi2008000460#), Peru (items #bi2008000285# and #bi2008000545#), Uruguay (item #bi2006003883#), and Venezuela (item #bi2005002982#). Most of these works offer informative examinations of the evolution of the international relations of the respective countries and updated critical analyses of recent foreign policy approaches and initiatives.


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