Latin America Makes an Impact at Copenhagen Amidst
Conflicting Charges of Lula’s Leadership and ALBA’s
A frustrated group of European politicians has, over the past several days, come down hard on a number of Latin American countries whom it considers to have thwarted attempts to reach a legally binding agreement at the climate change talks, which ended in Copenhagen on Friday, December 18. Leading the chorus of blame has been the British Energy and Climate Change Minister, Ed Miliband, who authored a damning op-ed in the December 21 edition of the Guardian, which mainly accused China of standing in the way of a more definite deal. However, a front page article in the same newspaper claimed that Miliband’s aides “made it clear that he included Sudan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Cuba, which also tried to resist a deal being signed.” The minister’s message to those countries was unequivocal: “we will not allow [you] to block global progress.” Miliband was joined later that same day by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who in a webcast posted on the Downing Street website said, “never again should we let a global deal to move towards a greener future be held to ransom by only a handful of countries.”
Nevertheless, the Guardian’s editorial that day succeeded in finding one positive development that could legitimately be seen in the aftermath of the conference: “The rich world was forced to haggle with the bigger emerging economies on more equal terms than ever before,” it observed. Indeed, this point was illustrated most clearly by the presence of Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva among the exclusive group of five last ditch negotiators working overtime to save face on the final day of the talks – his partners in that effort being the leaders of Asian giants China and India, South Africa, and, of course, the United States’ Barack Obama. Ostensible saboteurs on one hand, vital power brokers on the other, Latin America’s leaders emerged from Copenhagen having been spun in wildly different directions by the various public relations mega-machines present there. In reality, however, post-conference rhetoric helped establish that Lula, Venezuela’s Chávez, Bolivia’s Morales and the Castro administration are united on the most important point: that the United States, along with its kowtowing friends in London and the rest of Europe, has done perhaps the most damage to the prospects for some of the world’s poorest people, over the past two-and-a-half weeks of Copenhagen.