|A World Safe from Natural Disasters - The Journey of Latin America and the Caribbean (PAHO-OPS, 1994, 111 p.)|
|Chapter 2: An overview of the region|
The democratic process in the Region was strengthened in the 1990s, and most authoritarian political systems were replaced, particularly in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The removal of the democratically elected president in Haiti in September 1991, the disbanding of the Peruvian congress in March 1992, and the military insurgencies in Venezuela during the same year, have raised fears that the authoritarian regimes of the past will make a comeback. Caribbean countries have also had their share of political violence, such as the civil unrest in Trinidad in 1990, and during elections in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Kitts and Nevis. However, the way in which serious political conflicts were faced in Brazil, Guatemala, and Venezuela, strengthens the hope that future crises will be resolved through the exercise of democratic principles.
The 1980s were violent and turbulent years in Central America, when hundreds of thousands of people died or were displaced because of armed conflicts in El Salvador and Nicaragua, and because of serious civil disturbances in Guatemala. Even though the situation in these countries is still fragile, a certain level of political stability has been attained, and some progress has been made in recovering the economic level that was lost during the decade. The peace accords signed in January 1992 between the government of El Salvador and the Farabundo Martí Front for National Liberation, and the conclusion of the armed conflict in Nicaragua were the results of a long peace process that began in 1983 with the work of the Contadora Group, formed by the governments of Colombia, Mexico, Panama, and Venezuela.
The Process of Subregional Integration
The processes of political and economic integration that have been seen in other regions of the world, particularly in Europe, have encouraged countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to promote subregional organizations that are based on economic cooperation (see Box 2.2). These organizations have had varying degrees of success largely due to the varying fortunes and development of the participating members. Commerce between member countries represents only a small portion of the Region's foreign trade, and the globe recession has had repercussions on intraregional trade.
Integration is relevant in the Region because of the cultural proximity of the countries, and because, in the context of natural disasters, neighboring countries share similar patterns of hazards and vulnerability. The objectives of these organizations have been to promote economic growth while strengthening the political identity of the members; generating financial cooperation; supporting exchanges in technical, scientific, and cultural development; and, in certain instances, by promoting support in disaster reduction between participating countries.
ORGANIZATlONS PROMOTING SUBREGIONAL INTEGRATION
Amazon Pact. Signed in 1978; member countries: Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela. This treaty provides for cooperation among members in the development of the Amazon Basin, rational use of its resources, and protection of its ecology. Each member has established a national commission to implement joint decisions.
Andean Group (Andean Pact). Founded in 1969; member countries: Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. It was established to improve the position of the member countries within the Latin American Free Trade Association and to increase the trade and development of the countries. Various complementary agreements exist, including the Hipólito Unánue Agreement. created in December 1971, which promotes, coordinates, and supports efforts to improve health; disaster preparedness is one of its priority programs.
Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM). Founded in 1973; member countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. and Trinidad and Tobago. Its objectives are economic integration based on a regional common market; cooperation in areas of culture, education, health, labor relations, tourism, and transportation; and coordination of foreign relations and defense policies. In 1991, CARICOM established the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) in Barbados to coordinate emergency response for disasters occurring in member countries.
Central American Common Market. Founded in 1960; member countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. It was established to increase industrialization and specialization by liberalizing intraregional trade. The Secretariat of Central American Economic Integration (SIECA) gives technical and administrative support to the organization.
Central American Integration System (SICA). Founded in 1991; member countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. Its main objectives are, among others, the consolidation of a new model of regional security based on corrective action in the social and economic areas, and the promotion of sustained economic, social, and political development of its Member States.
Central American Parliament (PARLACEN). Founded in 1987; member countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. A political forum, it aims to surmount the national interests which harm regional and economic integration. Together with SICA, it has played an important role in promoting future legislation with reference to disaster reduction measures.
Latin American Economic System (SELA). Founded in 1975; 27 Latin American member countries. It aims to accelerate intraregional cooperation particularly in the areas of selling primary commodities on the world market and providing a permanent system of consultation and coordination in economic and social matters.
Latin American Integration Association (ALADI). Founded in 1980; member countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela. This organization replaced the Latin American Free Trade Association, established originally to create an area of free trade forming the basis for a Latin American Common Market.
Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). Founded in 1981; member countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Because of concern that benefits derived from integration would benefit the larger CARICOM States, these smaller islands created this entity in association with CARICOM. The OECS coordinates development strategies between its members and provides cooperation in economic, foreign policy, and defense matters.
Southern Common Market (MERCOSUR). Founded in 1991; member
countries: Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. It aims to abolish barriers
to trade between Member States, establish a common external tariff, and
harmonize economic policies.