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21st Century Imperialism

El imperialismo del siglo XXI, EFE

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There have been many generations of Latin Americans who were formed understanding that imperialism was the superior phase of capitalism, just as Lenin said. Of course, no one ever wondered how it was possible to explain Chinese imperialism from the 221 BC to 1912 AD centuries or the Roman imperialism from the 31 BC to 476 AD centuries when the capitalism that was consolidated from the 19th century did not yet exist. Because the idea was not to understand history but to prosecute the United States, the leading country of capitalism.

Now those voices that were once called progressives tell us that we must take care of the United States and Europe because in this phase of global economic recomposition both regions are going to try to dominate the world. But when one analyzes trade flows, it turns out that both Europe and the United States need Latin America and Africa to stabilize their economies, therefore the bases of interdependence are established. And if interdependence does not materialize, it will surely be because the corrupt elites of those nations will prefer to sell birthrights for a plate of lentils, that is, for a juicy account in some tax haven.

Those same sources, however, do not seem to record the silent rise of a new form of imperialism on our continent. One that is less visible but, in my opinion, more lethal because instead of taking territorial possession it engulfs an institutional framework in order to destroy the economy; citizen participation and self-determination. We are referring, of course, to the way in which the Cuban regime extends imperialist tentacles over countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua and, to a much lesser extent, Bolivia. It also affects the foreign policy of Argentina, Brazil and Mexico and now also of Colombia. In short, it has more presence and intervention than the United States.

But the interventionist model also pursues two lethal objectives. The first extract economic rent to shovel the food and energy catastrophe created by his policies. The second is to prevent the conquered country from ceasing to be dependent on its economy and dependent on its international positions.

Thus the conquered nations become replicas of the political and economic disaster of Cuba generating poverty; migrations and despair. This weakens the economies of the rest of the Latin American nations and creates acute immigration problems in the United States. And in the end, these situations block any attempt at rapprochement by the United States with Latin America. In short, we are facing an effective and lasting neo-imperialism of which, apparently and in a very strange way, no one wants to talk, neither in Latin America, Europe or the United States.

Beatrice Rangel es directora del Interamerican Institute for Democracy, Managing Director de AMLA Consulting, responsable de negociar e implementar estrategias y adquisiciones de inversión corporativas en América Latina y el Caribe. Exmiembro ejecutivo de Wharton School de la Universidad de Pennsylvania // Beatrice Rangel is Director of the Interamerican Institute for Democracy, Managing Director of AMLA Consulting, responsible for negotiating and implementing corporate investment strategies and acquisitions in Latin America and the Caribbean. Former Executive Fellow of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.