Last month a coincidence of birth and death signaled a transition for
The former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet died even as leaders of South American nations concluded a two-day summit meeting in Cochabamba, Bolivia, hosted by President Evo Morales, at which the participants and the agenda represented the antithesis of Pinochet and his era.
In the Cochabamba Declaration, the presidents and envoys of 12 countries agreed to study the idea of forming a continent-wide community similar to the European Union.
The declaration marks another stage toward regional integration in
Previous attempts at independence have been crushed, partly because of a lack of regional cooperation. Without it, threats can be handled one by one. (
On Sept. 11, 1973, Pinochet’s forces attacked the Chilean presidential palace. Salvador Allende, the democratically elected president, died in the palace, apparently by his own hand, because he was unwilling to surrender to the assault that demolished
The official death toll for the coup is 3,200; the actual toll is commonly estimated at double that figure. An official inquiry 30 years after the coup found evidence of approximately 30,000 cases of torture during the Pinochet regime. Among the leaders at
The new Ecuadorian president, Rafael Correa, proposed a land-and-river trade link from the Brazilian Amazon rain forest to Ecuador’s Pacific Coast â€” a South American equivalent of the Panama Canal.
Other promising developments include Telesur, a new pan-Latin American TV channel based in
The Brazilian president, Luiz InÃ¡cio Lula da Silva, called on fellow leaders to overcome historical differences and unite the continent, however difficult the task.
Integration is a prerequisite for genuine independence. The colonial history â€” Spain, Britain, other European powers, the United States â€” not only divided countries from one another but also left a sharp internal division within the countries, between a wealthy small elite and a mass of impoverished people.
The main economic controls in recent years have come from the International Monetary Fund, which is virtually a branch of the U.S. Treasury Department. But
Because of the new developments in South America, the
The tempo is picking up. Also last month, Mercosur, the South American trading bloc, continued the dialogue on South American unity at its semiannual meeting in
Noam Chomsky is emeritus professor of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His most recent book is “Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy.”
© 2007 The International Herald Tribune