The impetus for geopolitical recomposition during this decade of the 21st century has been strengthened since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. China, with its military power and, above all, its economic power, has been taking steady, significant steps in its quest to expand its influence. Moscow, likewise, while recognizing its limitations, has been trying to occupy the vacuum left by the United States during decades of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and related economic crises.
Last February, when Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to advance westward and launched the largest European war campaign in 30 years, the world was forced to define its priorities and choose sides. Condemnation of Russia, fostered by the United States and the European Union, has been widespread on this side of the hemisphere.
The Kremlin, however, received some support from Asia and Africa. China, in a calculated move, preferred to either remain silent or to communicate discreetly; after decades of careful tending, the Asian giant diplomatically cannot throw its imperialistic designs overboard. Whatever the case, far from taking a neutral position, Xi Jinping seems closer to Putin than to the West.
The recent announcement that China and Russia will carry out joint military training in the latter’s territory in August and September corroborates that they are a bloc. To calm the waters a bit, Beijing gave assurances that the exercises have been in the planning stage for a long time and have nothing to do with the current international situation. Whatever they say, the consequences of carrying them out are clear.
And as China strengthens militarily, its economic growth is impressive, attracting nations that see an opportunity for diversification in the huge Asian markets. Overall, despite the evidence of decades of encroachment by anti-Western interests, the stakes for regional hegemony in Latin America are bound to grow. Once again, the search for raw materials will spearhead the recomposition of alliances in the region. Added to that are infrastructure development projects, technology and even vaccines. Sputnik V [Russia’s COVID vaccine] did its part during the pandemic.
Washington and Brussels know this. Their governments claim to be readying trade proposals to avoid being left behind in what for decades was their turf. Latin America is waiting.
In a conflict of this magnitude, the subcontinent may come out on top. Each country will have to weigh the offers being made carefully, with established coalitions on the one hand and the generosity of newer ones on the other. It is imperative that careful assessment be made of the situation, so changed from the status quo of only a few decades ago.