Tuesday, July 30, 2013

VOXXI: Will Paraguay fully return to the inter-American system?

Will Paraguay fully return to the inter-American system?
W. Alejandro Sanchez
July 30, 2013
Originally published:http://www.voxxi.com/paraguay-return-inter-american-system/

Now that Paraguay successfully held presidential elections on April 21, the inter-American system will welcome back the landlocked South American nation as a member of regional institutions.
On August 15, President-elect Horacio Cartes will take the presidential seat, and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), will lift their suspension on the country’s membership to these organizations.
However, it is debatable if Asuncion wants to become a full member of MERCOSUR once again.

A mixed regional response

Paraguay has undergone a tumultuous year, following a mid-2012 political crisis that culminated in a constitutional coup, which removed then-President Fernando Lugo from power and replaced him with Vice-President Federico Franco.
The controversial removal of Lugo brought about swift criticism from governments and organizations across the hemisphere, but it quickly became obvious that there was no unified response to the crisis, but rather governments reacted to it depending on their national interests.
South American agencies like MERCOSUR and UNASUR suspended Paraguay’s membership after Lugo was overthrown. But while this move would normally be perceived as a statement that such agencies wanted Paraguay to respect its democratic process, these initiatives also brought about criticism.
Not long after Paraguay was suspended, Venezuela was accepted as a member of MERCOSUR. Asuncion had been an opponent of Caracas’ membership to that particular bloc, hence, it was no surprise that Asuncion critiqued its fellow MERCOSUR members, arguing that the bloc’s members were capitalizing on Paraguay’s suspension to advance their own agendas, namely to accept Venezuela.
On the other hand, Paraguay was not suspended from other hemispheric agencies. For example, the Organization of American States (OAS), kept Asuncion as a member.
Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere at the State Department, famously declared that there was no need to suspend Paraguay from the OAS. Similarly, Jose Miguel Insulza, OAS Secretary General, declared that Paraguay would not be suspended. Thanks to this diplomatic support, Insulza received a medal by outgoing President Franco during the his recent visit to Asuncion.
Finally, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean State (CELAC) failed to create a unified stance on Paraguay. For example, while CELAC expressed that Paraguay was not suspended from that particular bloc, the country was not invited to participate in a January 2013 summit between CELAC and the European Union. Prior to the start of the summit, Paraguayan Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Felix Fernandez stated that Chile had requested to CELAC that Asuncion should not participate in the high level meeting. In other words, there were conflicting positions by Latin American multinational agencies, as well as individual governments, regarding how to treat Paraguay after Lugo’s removal.

Paraguay’s hemispheric future

Latinamericanist scholars and analysts generally assume that come August 15, when President-elect Cartes is inaugurated as head of state, Paraguay will return to MERCOSUR and UNASUR. But this may not be the case. There have been reports that Paraguay does not want to return to MERCOSUR as long as Venezuela is a member.
For example, Cartes has drafted a legal document, known as the “Cartes Document,” in which he argues that “Venezuela’s incorporation as full member of MERCOSUR in July 2012, have not kept to the legal norms to which must comply the incorporation of a new member.”
It is also worth highlighting the remarks that the Paraguayan Ambassador to the U.S., Pfanni Caballero, gave during an on-the-record event on July 23 at the Center for Strategic & International Studies, a think tank in Washington DC (click here for an audio of the presentation). In his speech, Ambassador Caballero was somewhat ambivalent on whether it was just a matter of time before Paraguay returns to MERCOSUR or if may not do so at all.
The diplomat also declared that “the fact that you [MERCOSUR] violate your own norms and regulations and laws […] make it very hard for us to consider reentering MERCOSUR without the necessary guarantees that [this] won’t happen again.”
Such sentiments will make for tense diplomatic times in South America’s immediate future. Certainly, it will be interesting to see what initiatives the Paraguayan government will want to carry out in MERCOSUR regarding Venezuela’s membership in the organization, if Asuncion actually returns to that organization.
Declarations by President Cartes and Ambassador Caballero suggest that, unsurprisingly, there is still resentment by Asuncion over its suspension to MERCOSUR.
Meanwhile, from the side of the Latin American community in general, the 2012 Paraguayan crisis brought about condemnation, including suspending the country from regional agencies and recalling ambassadors. Nevertheless, there was no regional consensus on how to deal with Asuncion after Lugo was deposed.
Given the plethora of organizations and trade blocs in the region, with varying political and economic motives, as well as overlapping membership (i.e. all of MERCOSURs members also belong to UNASUR, CELAC and the OAS), it is no surprise that there has been a lack of harmony among the region in response to Lugo’s deposition.
If Latin America’s history is any indicator, the region will likely see another internal political crisis before it is able to create a common diplomatic policy to deal with political incidents such as what happened in Paraguay.

Read more: http://www.voxxi.com/paraguay-return-inter-american-system/#ixzz2aYkYXToI

Thursday, July 25, 2013

VOXXI: Act II in Mexico: Keeping former Zetas leader, Miguel Trevino, in prison

Act II in Mexico: Keeping former Zetas leader, Miguel Trevino, in prison
W. Alejandro Sanchez
July 24, 2013
Originally published: http://www.voxxi.com/keeping-zetas-miguel-trevino-in-prison/
On August 20, 2012, I wrote a commentary for VOXXI debating whether or not the U.S. or Mexico should eliminate Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, leader of the dreaded Sinaloa Cartel , if given the chance. In that piece, I argued that some high-profile criminals are too dangerous to be kept behind bars, particularly in countries with problematic prison systems.

Fast forward to July 15 of this year: the Mexican government announced the capture of Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, alias Z-40, leader of the Zetas Cartel, another one of Mexico’s major cartels.

Understandably, Latin Americanist scholars are busy discussing what the capture of the Z-40 means for this illegal organization, particularly whether it will remain united or break apart into smaller groups.

But not much attention has been given to the fate of Z-40 himself. Where will Trevino Morales be sent to prison? And will he actually remain imprisoned, without managing to escape or communicate with his cartel subordinates?
Unfortunately, in spite of some important initiatives, the recent history of Mexico’s penal system has a plethora of problems, including prison breakouts and the lavish lifestyle that prisoners enjoy.

Therefore, Trevino Morales’s imprisonment should serve as an impetus for policymakers to address Mexico’s failing prison system and to consider creating a legal means for dealing with especially high-profile prisoners.
The problem Mexican prisons

The Mexican penal system has been in a terminal state for several years. Ever since former President Felipe Calderón’s decision to deploy the Mexican military to actively and aggressively pursue Mexican cartels (circa 2007), the overpopulation of Mexican prisons has become even more evident. Sadly, examples of the troubling state of these prisons are abundant.

First, it is important to recognize that Mexican prisoners have been alarmingly successful at escaping from their detention centers. In September 2012, a major breakout occurred when as many as 131 prisoners escaped from the Piedras Negras detention center in the state of Coahuila, situated close to the U.S. border.

The inmates, men and women, managed to dig a tunnel that was 30 meters wide and three meters deep to regain their freedom. Not long after, in December 2012, inmates in the city of Gomez Palacio, in the state of Durango, tried to orchestrate a massive escape. At least 11 inmates and six guards were killed in the attempt before the Mexican army reached the center and restored order.

Given the numerous (successful) escape attempts, it is no surprise that the Mexican Commission of Human Rights has stated that inmates control up to 60 percent of Mexican prisons.

However, this data does not provide a complete image of the luxurious conditions in which some inmates live, especially former high-level members of criminal syndicates. For example, inmates in a prison in Acapulco are able to organize cockfights and easily smuggle prostitutes into the prison’s wings.

Meanwhile, one prisoner in a state prison in Sonora reportedly occupied a comfortable cell that included an air conditioner, a television (with cable), and a microwave.

The future
In spite of the aforementioned examples, it would be unfair to argue that neither former President Calderon nor current President Enrique Peña Nieto (EPN) have taken initiatives (namely building more prisons) with regards to improve Mexico’s penal system. The problem is that neither president has done enough.

For example, in 2012, Calderon’s last year in office and the beginning of EPN’s six-year presidency, Mexico’s government constructed several new prison facilities. One facility was a detention center inaugurated in early 2012 in Rincon, in the western state of Nayarit. Later, in October of the same year, a new prison, called Centro Federal de Readaptacion Social Numero 11, opened up in Hermosillo, in the state of Sonora.

The prison is known for having state-of-the-art technology, including scanners, X-ray machines and over 1,000 security cameras. During a tour of the facilities, then-President Calderon memorably declared that “this may be the biggest prison in the world, we may look into it going into the Guinness book of records.”
Trevino Morales behind bars

In my August 2012 article, I discussed whether it would be better for Mexican (or U.S.) security forces to eliminate Chapo rather than attempt to capture and imprison him. Leaving the morality of killing a human being aside, such high-profile arrests beg the question of whether the Mexican penal system can manage to keep these individuals safely incarcerated escaping or being able to communicate with their cartel henchmen.
The current state of Mexico’s prisons, provides a grim picture of whether the recently captured Trevino Morales will be able to remain behind bars.

This is not to say that Mexican security authorities have not been able to successfully imprison high-profile individuals in the past. Mario Aburto Martinez, who murdered a PRI presidential candidate in 1994, has spent his jail sentence behind bars in maximum security prisons in Juarez and Jalisco.

In addition, the famous cartel hitman, Edgar Valdez Villareal (alias La Barbie), has been imprisoned since 2010. However, while some major criminals are still behind bars, others have managed to escape. For instance, Sinaloa’s Chapo Guzman himself escaped from the Puente Grande prison in 2001.

Hopefully, Trevino Morales will not only remain behind bars, but also stay incommunicado from the outside world. While his capture is a major victory for the EPN presidency, a potential escape of the Zetas would likewise prove to be a major embarrassment. Finding and capturing the Trevino Morales was challenging enough for Mexican authorities, but making sure that he remains in prison may prove just as difficult.

Read more: http://www.voxxi.com/keeping-zetas-miguel-trevino-in-prison/#ixzz2a4A01CPe

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

VOXXI: Mexico’s people call for action and peacekeeping

Mexico's people call for action and peacekeeping
W. Alejandro Sanchez
July 23, 2013
Originally published: http://www.voxxi.com/mexico-call-for-action-and-peacekeeping/

Mexico’s people have spoken. On June 24, 2013, the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs presented the findings of a major survey compiled by the Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas (CIDE), a well-regarded Mexican research center. The survey collects the opinions of Mexican citizens and policymakers regarding various foreign policy issues, including whether Mexican security forces should participate in the United Nations’ peacekeeping operations (PKO). In general, most of the nearly 3,000 respondents expressed their support for a greater Mexican involvement in the UN ’s operations.
Allowing the Mexican military or police to take part in PKOs is more complicated than writing a presidential executive order; the country’s constitution will need to be amended. Nevertheless, the results of the CIDE survey, along with recent declarations by Mexican policymakers demonstrate that the public would likely welcome significant policy changes. The international community would also benefit from this development given the numerous conflict zones that exist across the globe.

Evolving Views

The Mexican constitution states that the government must maintain a policy of non-interference with regards to the affairs of other nations. Namely, Article 89, Section X, describes that it is the duty of the president to uphold the principle of non-intervention, while Article 76, Section III, explains that the legislature must authorize the deployment of troops abroad. This means that Mexico, while an active participant in the international community, has only seldom participated in peacekeeping operations, and even then its role has been very limited.
However, the recent CIDE survey makes apparent the shift in popular opinion of both Mexican citizens and policymakers in favor of a growing Mexican role in peacekeeping operations. The CIDE explains that between 2004 and 2012, popular support grew from 48% to 58%.
However, it is worth noting that support for this initiative among policymakers, who were also interviewed for the survey, is lower, at 52%, although several prominent Mexican officials have publically declared their support. For example, Ambassador Juan Manuel Gomez Robledo, deputy secretary for multilateral affairs at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, has declared that “it is necessary to have a debate” regarding Mexico’s role in PKOs. The goal of this proposal would to promote greater governmental support for this to happen.
Despite the inability of the Mexican government to reach a consensus on the issue regardless of the political party in power, the country’s military is already preparing itself for this eventuality. For example, a Mexican army general has been assigned to the Mexican mission to the UN to learn more about current peacekeeping operations. Furthermore, the Secretaria de Defensa Nacional has begun carrying out civic projects to gain further civilian and governmental support for Mexican participation in peacekeeping operations. Such initiatives hint that there’s a desire by some Mexican military officers to participate in them.

Reasons To Serve

Certainly, a decision to deploy a country’s armed forces to a UN peacekeeping operation should be made only after a healthy debate among the government, military, scholars and civic society. There are potential threats to consider when negotiating the possibility of contributing to these operations, including the likelihood that deployed soldiers could lose their lives on foreign soil. As recently as mid-July, seven UN peacekeepers were killed by rebels in the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Sudan’s Darfur.
The concern for deploying soldiers to war zones is expressed in the CIDE poll. While Mexicans are generally in favor of PKOs, support varies depending on the type of UN mission Mexican soldiers could be deployed to. Only 37 percent support the deployment of soldiers to conflict zones (with 46 percent against). On the other hand, 89 percent of the polled citizens were in favor of sending troops to other countries to help with relief operations after natural disasters.
But even with significantly positive numbers, we will not see an increased Mexican involvement in peacekeeping operations anytime soon. Constitutional reform will require an amendment (or re-interpretation) of the concept of non-intervention. In Mexico, one of the congressional chambers will have to first propose a constitutional amendment. After it is passed, it will be sent to the 31 state governments, plus Mexico City, for approval. Only when 17 out of the 32 states have approved the motion, the President will receive it for final approval. In other words, this process can take years.
In a February VOXXI commentary, I discussed the future of Mexican foreign policy under President Enrique Peña Nieto. Specifically, I assessed the tools the Mexican government has at its disposal to increase its leadership role in Latin America. A greater role in peacekeeping operations will have the positive effect of aiding people in conflict zones.
What’s more, from a more real politik perspective, participation will increase the international pedigree of the Mexican government and military. Mexican military personnel themselves would also benefit from gaining more battlefield experience as well as monetarily, as soldiers are generally well-paid by participating in peacekeeping operations. As a point of comparison, Brazil has certainly profited diplomatically from its proactive role in the UN, including PKOs like in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
With that said, Mexican troops should not be put needlessly at risk simply for diplomatic gains considering the threats that peacekeeping troops are exposed to. But greater Mexican involvement in UN peacekeeping operations would likely result in overarching benefits for global security and Mexican standing in the international community. Especially considering the recent evolution in public opinion, President Peña Nieto should waste no time in pushing this initiative.

Read more: http://www.voxxi.com/mexico-call-for-action-and-peacekeeping/#ixzz2ZugShlpP

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Blouin Beat: Correa’s PR hire highlights Ecuador’s shaky foreign policy

Correa's PR hire highlights Ecuador's shaky foreign policy
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Blouin Beat: World
July 19, 2013
Originally published: http://blogs.blouinnews.com/blouinbeatworld/2013/07/19/correas-pr-hire-highlights-ecuadors-shaky-foreign-policy/

U.S.-Ecuador relations have become tangled. In June, president Rafael Correa made headlines when he  offered NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (who has been living in an airport terminal in Moscow for weeks), political asylum. This was considered an attempt by Correa to demonstrate that he was not controlled by “el imperio” (the empire, as Washington is labeled by several left-leaning Latin American governments). But Quito ultimately withdrew its offer and, in baffling recent news, has hired a public relations firm, Van Scoyoc Associates (VSA), based in Washington, D.C., to improve its relations with the U.S. government.
The Snowden proffer was not an isolated incident. Since Correa assumed the presidency in 2007, one of his leadership trademarks has been diplomatic clashing with Washington. In 2009, he famously terminated the U.S.’s lease with Ecuador regarding a military facility in Manta. The base had been an important part of Washington’s efforts to combat drug trafficking in South America. In June, in a move largely overshadowed by the Snowden affair, Ecuador terminated a bilateral trade agreement with Washington, the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (the ATPDEA) — though it is worth noting that the treaty was close to expiring and the U.S. Congress was unlikely to renew it. The cancellation of ATPDEA occurred essentially simultaneously to Correa offering Snowden asylum in his country. Hence, both initiatives were interpreted as back-to-back acts of defiance against Washington’s historical, but currently changing, influence over Latin America.
While the Snowden affair was supposed to showcase Correa as a leader who could pose a viable challenge the U.S., as the late Hugo Chávez had successively (and successfully) done, the Ecuadorian leader ended up worsening his position. As Snowden waited in a Moscow airport, some of Correa’s own government officials called into question the rationality of offering him asylum. Moreover, rumors started spreading that there was concern within the Ecuadorian government that it wasWikileaks’ founder, Julian Assange, who was the puppet master and was coordinating Snowden’s trip to Quito. (Assange himself has been living in Ecuador’s embassy in London for over a year to avoid a possible extradition to Sweden).
Given this complicated situation, VSA’s staff will certainly have their hands full if they aim to improve Washington-Quito relations. According to reports, the contract between the Ecuadorian government and this D.C.-based PR firm will last six months and will cost $300,000. The public relations company’s goal is to “provide counsel to the Embassy of Ecuador on strengthening the Embassy’s ties to the United States government and relevant U.S. institutions.”
Since Snowden did not manage to fly to Ecuador, there is room for improving diplomatic relations between the two governments, particularly as media attention has quickly switched gears to other Western Hemispheric issues (it’s currently fixated in as the North Korea-bound ship that was stopped in Panama, carrying Cuban weapons). Van Scoyoc will probably want to lobby key U.S. government officials that handle commercial issues — such as the new U.S. Trade Representative,Michael Froman — and highlight the advantages of continuing trade ties with the South American nation. Imports of agricultural and nursery products (particularly flowers) to the U.S. will probably be one of the cornerstones of renewed bilateral relations, should VSA be successful.
But if the Snowden affair and the hire of a D.C.-headquartered PR firm have shown anything, it is the lack of consistency in Ecuador’s foreign policy. These recent contradictory decisions make analysts and scholars alike wonder exactly how Ecuador’s foreign policy decisions are being formulated. What kind of advice is Correa receiving from his foreign minister Ricardo Patiño, or from his ambassador to the U.S., Nathalie Cely? Indeed, even as ATPDEA was falling apart, Cely published an op-ed in the Huffington Post this past June discussing (and generally advocating for) U.S.-Ecuador trade relations. That’s what you call a mixed message.
If Correa was hoping that offering Snowden asylum would be a milestone in his presidential term and would cement his international pedigree within Latin America and the ALBA bloc, he made a severe tactical miscalculation. He’s laying out a hefty chunk of change to help rectify that error. But every day that his administration delays rebuilding a unified foreign-policy message is going to cost him even more.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Blouin: The real culprit behind Peru’s ruined ruins

The Real Culprit behind Peru's Ruined Ruins
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Blouin Beat: World
July 16, 2013
Originally published: http://blogs.blouinnews.com/blouinbeatworld/2013/07/16/the-real-culprit-behind-perus-ruined-ruins/

Peru’s booming tourism industry has been a cornerstone of the South American country’s economic growth. This makes the destruction in July of one of the twelve 4,000 year-old pyramids in the El Paraiso archaeological complex all the more grim. Besides the known culprits, real-estate developers, there’s an additional and unlikely cause: Machu Picchu.
That citadel of the Incan Empire is the country’s flagship tourist destination. A recent survey named Machu Picchu as the third most popular tourist destination in South America.
However, the Peruvian government is unfortunately not giving the same care and priority to other archeological centers as it gives to Machu Picchu.
Reports explain that the developers – Inmobiliaria Alisol S.A.C. and Provelanz E.I.R.L. — used heavy machinery to harm and subsequently burnt one the pyramids at the El Paraiso complex, located not far from Lima. “[These people] have committed irreparable damage to a page of Peruvian history,” says Marco Guilen, the director of an excavation project at El Paraiso. When the developers arrived to destroy one of twelve pyramids located there, the center was not guarded. They argue that they had legally purchased 50 hectares of land where the El Paraiso site is located and planned to build a housing complex. After the destruction of the pyramid was made public, guards were deployed to prevent further damage. Meanwhile, Peru’s Ministry of Culture, in charge of overseeing the conservation of archeological sites, has started a lawsuit against the developers.
Worryingly, the destruction of the El Paraiso pyramid is not an isolated event. An example of similar unsalvageable archeological destruction occurred in May in Belize. There, a construction company destroyed an ancient Mayan pyramid at the site of the Nohmul (meaning Big Mound) in order to build a road.The archeological center is at least 2,300 years old and is (or was) the most important site in northern Belize. But the loss of one of the twelve El Paraiso pyramids serves as a stark reminder that some sites receive more priority by authorities when it comes to conservation and protection initiatives. Both Peru and Belize have laws that protect archeological sites, but such laws are useless if they are not properly and actively enforced. If only for financial-related reasons, Peruvian authorities should protect archeological sites around the nation due to their contribution to tourism and local economies.
Tourism in Peru benefits from a plurality of archeological centers and historical attractions in the county’s highlands, such as the Valley of the Incas, the Sacsayhuaman fortress and the cathedral in the city of Cuzco. Most of these sites date back to the Incan Empire and pre-Incan cultures, and have made the region a paradise for tourists, archeologists, and even television producers — a Brazilian soap opera, called Amor a Vida, filmed several episodes in Cuzco this past April.
It should be remembered here, as well, that tourism to Machu Picchu is growing — and so is concern that the massive flow of visitors to the citadel will put the safety of the ruins in jeopardy. Furthermore, authorities are also concerned that the expansion of Aguas Calientes, a nearby town, could affect the ruins. In May 2012, specialists from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) visited Machu Picchu and provided suggestions to local authorities on how to protect the citadel. The Peruvian government, specially the Ministry of Culture, needs to listen — and apply those suggestions nationwide to protect its wealth of cultural history.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Quoted in: Le Figaro:L'affaire Snowden indigne l'Amérique du Sud

"L'Affaire Snowden Indigne l'Amerique du Sud"
By: Lamia Oulalou
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Le Figaro (France)
July 12, 2013
Originally published: http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2013/07/12/01003-20130712ARTFIG00528-l-affaire-snowden-indigne-l-amerique-du-sud.php

Réunis vendredi à Montevideo, les chefs d'Etat du Mercosur, dont certains ont offert l'asile politique au «lanceur d'alerte» américain, devaient émettre une résolution sur l'espionnage.
En prenant vendredi, pour la première fois, la présidence du Mercosur, le Venezuela a déclenché une polémique avec le Paraguay. Sans l'exclusion temporaire d'Asuncion, après la destitution en juin 2012 du président Fernando Lugo, leVenezuela n'aurait pas pu devenir membre permanent du bloc sud-américain. Le climat de division qui aurait dû entacher le sommet de vendredi à Montevideo a toutefois été balayé par le «tremblement de terre Snowden», comme le qualifie la presse brésilienne.
D'abord lointaine - des révélations faites, en Asie, par un espion américain sur des écoutes en Europe - l'affaireSnowden s'est brutalement invitée en Amérique latine quand la France, l'Italie, l'Espagne et le Portugal ont interdit le survol de leur territoire à l'avion du président bolivien Evo Morales, en pensant que l'ex-agent de la CIA était à bord.
Sans possibilité de revenir à Moscou, l'appareil a dû faire un atterrissage d'urgence à Vienne, où l'ambassadeur d'Espagne s'est proposé de vérifier personnellement si Snowden était dans l'appareil, au mépris des règles diplomatiques. Humilié en Europe, Evo Morales a été accueilli en héros à Montevideo - la Bolivie est membre associé du Mercosur - et l'organisation devait hier exiger des excuses aux pays impliqués.

Promesses et menaces des États-Unis

La tension est montée d'un cran la semaine dernière, avec la révélation par le quotidien brésilien O Globo, que des activités d'espionnage auraient été effectuées à partir de Brasilia. «S'il y a eu participation d'autres pays, cela constituerait certainement une violation de souveraineté et des droits de l'homme», a déclaré Dilma Rousseff à Brasilia, en se gardant toutefois de citer les États-Unis. Le Mercosur devait émettre hier une résolution sur l'espionnage, et déposer une action devant des organisations multilatérales et dans le cadre de conventions internationales des droits de l'homme, telle la Convention de Vienne.
L'affaire Snowden complique d'autant plus les relations entre la région et les États-Unis que deux des trois États qui ont offert l'asile à Snowden, le Venezuela et la Bolivie - outre le Nicaragua - faisaient partie du sommet. Depuis dix jours, Washington n'a pas caché son activisme, entre promesses et menaces, pour demander aux chefs d'États latino-américains de ne pas accueillir l'ex-espion. Le vice-président américain Joseph Biden a ainsi appelé le président équatorien Rafael Correa, avec un certain succès: Quito, qui s'illustre déjà en abritant Julian Assange dans son ambassade à Londres, s'est fait plus discret à l'égard d'Edward Snowden.

«Les menaces américaines à l'encontre de la Bolivie et du Venezuela n'ont pas beaucoup de poids», confie Alejandro Sanchez, analyste au Council on Hemispheric Affairs, basé à Washington. Pour lui, seul le Nicaragua aurait beaucoup à perdre à tenir tête au géant américain, auquel il est lié via des accords de coopération économiques et militaires. «L'affaire Snowden est un exemple de la perte d'influence progressive des États-Unis dans la région», poursuit-il, même si elle ne remettra pas en cause ses alliances stratégiques, notamment avec le Mexique et la ­Colombie.